Acting US ambassador to Pakistan met with Code Pink, discussed ‘classified’ drone casualty counts
Richard Hoagland, the acting U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, discussed with Code Pink and anti-Israel activists what he said was classified information, during an October 3 meeting with the groups in Islamabad.
Code Pink, a liberal anti-war organization known for disrupting Republican and conservative public events, uploaded a video of the meeting to an Internet video sharing website on Oct. 5.
“I looked at the numbers today before I came here, and I saw a number of civilian casualties — officially U.S. government classified information,” Hoagland said at the meeting. “Since July 2008 it is in the two-figures. I can’t vouch for you that that’s accurate, in any way, so I can’t talk about the numbers. Alright. I wanted to see what we have on the internal record. [It’s] quite low.”
Realizing what he had said, Hoagland told the activist gathering: “I probably just, you know, got into big trouble with what I just said.”
The left-wing delegation to Pakistan included Medea Benjamin, the co-founder of Code Pink, and Robert Naiman, the policy director of a left-wing group called Just Foreign Policy, whose board members include Julian Bond, the former NAACP chairman, and Tom Hayden, the 1960s radical and former California politician.
During the five-minute video, Naiman hands the ambassador a petition, which he claims was signed by more than three thousand people, calling for an end to U.S. military drone strikes in Pakistan.
Naiman also is seen giving Hoagland an anti-drone letter from left-wing American activists, including Alice Walker, Noam Chomsky, Juan Cole and Oliver Stone.
“We demand an immediate moratorium on the drone strikes,” the letter reads, in part. “We demand that U.S. policy in Pakistan be brought into compliance with U.S. and international law, that the U.S. government come clean about civilian casualties, that civilian victims and their families be compensated, and that ‘signature’ drone strikes and attacks on civilian rescuers be permanently abandoned, in Pakistan and everywhere else.”
Naiman, the policy director of the Just Foreign Policy organization, is a longtime anti-Israel activist who participated in an attempt to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza in 2011.
Several days after meeting with the anti-war activists, a Pakistani news outlet reported that Hoagland vowed that the U.S. would continue to deploy all resources, “including drones,” to fight terrorism coming from Pakistan, noting a new wave of terrorism there that began with the shooting of 15-year-old education activist Malala Yousafzai.