Both claims can’t be true.
So we decided to narrow it down to just one issue: have the administration’s own claims been consistent?
We collected claims by the administration about deaths from drone strikes in Pakistan and compared each one not to local reports but rather to other administration claims. The numbers sometimes do not add up. (Check out our interactive graphic to explore the claims.)
Even setting aside the discrepancy between official and outside estimates of civilian deaths, our analysis shows that the administration’s own figures quoted over the years raise questions about their credibility.
There have been 307 American drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004, according to a New America Foundation count. Just 44 occurred during the Bush administration. President Obama has greatly expanded the use of drones to attack suspected members of Al Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban, and other groups in Pakistan’s remote northwest region.
Obama officials generally do not comment by name on the drone strikes in Pakistan, but they frequently talk about it to reporters (including us) on condition of anonymity. Often those anonymously sourced comments have come in response to outside tallies of civilian deaths from drone attacks, which are generally much higher than the administration’s own figures.