* The first U.S. drone missile
strike took place in 2002 under President George W. Bush, in Yemen. The pace of attacks has reportedly increased under President Obama, although there are no statistics because the program is considered top secret.
* The independent Bureau of
Investigative Journalism has tallied 363 U.S. drone-fired missile strikes in Pakistan and 100 more in Yemen. Its estimated death toll ranges from roughly 3,000 to slightly more than 4,500. And its research suggests that anywhere from 545 to 1,071 of the dead were innocent civilians, including women and children. A study by professors at the Stanford and NYU law schools suggested that only 2 percent of those killed by drone missiles were "high-value targets."
* In September 2011, a drone
strike in Yemen killed two American citizens, Anwar al-Awlaki - an Islamic cleric and high-level al Qaeda activist - and Samir Khan, editor of the terror group's Inspire magazine. Two weeks later, a U.S. drone over Yemen fired a Hellfire missile that killed the dead cleric's 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, a native of Denver and an American citizen. U.S. officials have never explained why the teenager was targeted for death.
* Other nations are hungry for
drone technology. That includes Iran, which made a global splash on Thursday by releasing footage that it said was extracted from a U.S. surveillance drone that came down there in late 2011.
- Will Bunch