The Obama administration has been accused of misleading the American public - and the world - about its drone programme after leaked intelligence files revealed that it was targeting unidentified militants who posed no immediate threat to the United States.
Despite President Barack Obama's public promise that the CIA's armed Predators and Reapers were only targeting those suspected of plotting against America, top-secret documents reveal that in one year alone almost half of those killed were simply listed as "unknown extremists", reports The Independent.
The documents, obtained by US news agency McClatchy, also revealed Pakistan's intelligence agency was co-operating with the US at the same time as its government was condemning drone strikes on its soil.
Jennifer Gibson, a lawyer working with the British human rights charity Reprieve, said there is now mounting evidence that the Obama administration is misleading the American public - and the world at large - about the drone war it is waging in Pakistan.
Gibson said the reports show a significant number of the strikes have nothing to do with al-Qaeda. Instead, they may have been a quid pro quo exchange between two countries' spy agencies. The result is that the US often doesn't know who it is killing, he added.
The US has come under increasing international pressure to open up its decision-making process to scrutiny following claims that the drone programme has killed hundreds of civilians among an estimated death toll of 2,500, predominantly in Pakistan and Yemen.
Preparations are in place to transfer more control of the programme from the CIA to the Pentagon, in a move said to herald greater transparency.
The US intelligence reports leaked to McClatchy covered most of the drone strikes in Pakistan during 2006 to 2008 as well as 2010 to 2011.
At least 265 of the 482 people killed by the CIA programme in the 12 months up to September 2011 were listed as Afghan, Pakistani or "unknown extremists", contradicting sharply with US administration's claim that drones are only used to target "senior operational leaders" in al-Qaeda, those involved in the 11 September 2001 attacks or individuals plotting imminent attacks on the US. (ANI)