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This page lists all the sources used throughout this website as well as a few details on the technical tools we used to make this project. You can also download our annotated bibliography if you would like overview & analysis of select sources.

The "Three Layers" of Digital Humanities Projects


Our research studies the relationship between U.S. presidential administrations and the deployment of drone warfare in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. We are using a combination of four datasets from The Bureau of Investigative Journalism regarding the U.S. drone campaign in four different countries. In addition, we plan to use a combination of books, journal articles, and websites to provide perspective on the dataset. As external insight on US drone strikes beyond the data provided by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, these documents provide background to the numbers in our dataset and help our team approach analysis of the dataset understanding the US drone strike situation in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia from an objective standpoint. Using the information available in the dataset and insight from additional reading, we were able to develop computationally tractable research questions.

Our comparative methodology makes our project unique. Most projects using drone-enabled airstrike data, including the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, either focus on one country at a time or one administration at a time, but never compare country-to-country or administration-to-administration. We are use four discrete databases (one per country), which, to our knowledge, has not been done in a single project.

Our literature review shows that scholars have tried comparing the different political, geographical, humanitarian, and legal contexts of the countries to each other. Generally, President Obama is attributed to have been the pivotal actor in how wars are fought. However, most of this literature was written before Donald Trump came into office. Our data does include updates with Trump’s deployment of drones and is included in our analysis to determine discrepancy or continuity between his patterns and President Obama’s patterns. Overall, we believe our project manipulates and highlights the data in ways that have not been previously done, in an overall attempt to beg the question, "is drone warfare worth it?" 


Our data is provided by the Journal of Investigative Journalism in four individual Google Sheets, one for each country. We exported these datasets and created our own database in Google Sheets. This allowed us to clean the data as necessary for our maps and data visualizations, combine data across countries, and order data according to presidential administration.

The maps we created are important for showing the geographical and temporal contexts in which drone strikes are happening. We used the HamsterMap Geocoder and Google Maps to geocode the locations in our data into latitudes and longitudes. Our maps were made in CARTO, a location intelligence software, and Tableau.

Tableau and RAWGraphs were also used to create the data visualizations. Data visualizations are important for comparing data and patterns across the four different countries and three different presidential administrations. There are many data visualization options with Tableau and RAWGraphs, and the ability to save our data input and experiment with what we can create allowed us to create the visualizations that would be best suited to convey our information and narrative. Additionally, Adobe Photoshop was used to overlay graph elements created in RAWGraphs and allow for more comparisons within the data.

A major benefit of CARTO and Tableau is that they are all GUI-based softwares that are free and relatively intuitive to pick up. This accessibility and user-friendliness of the softwares allowed everyone to contribute towards creating the visualizations.


We used Mobirise to build and design the website. Mobirise is a web design application that is free, based on a user-friendly interface, and has many templates and plugins available. Additionally, with Mobirise, the final version of the site can be published to Github. Github is free, web-based hosting service, which allows for our site to remain available after the Digital Humanities 101 course is over.

Our Complete List of Works Cited

Aslam, Wali. "Great-Power Responsibility, Side-Effect Harms and American Drone Strikes in Pakistan." Journal of Military Ethics, vol. 15, no. 2, Feb. 2016, pp. 143–162., doi:10.1080/15027570.2016.1211867.

Becker, Jo, and Scott Shane. "Secret 'Kill List' Proves a Test Of Obama's Principles and Will." The New York Times, 29 May 2012,

Benjamin, Medea. Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control. Verso, 2013. Print.

Bolland, Thomas, and Jan Andre Lee Ludvigsen. "‘No Boots on the Ground’: the Effectiveness of US Drones against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula." Defense & Security Analysis, vol. 34, no. 2, Mar. 2018, pp. 127–143., doi:10.1080/14751798.2018.1478184.

Breitenbücher, Danielle. "U.S., Lethal Operations against Al-Qa’Ida Leaders." ICRC Law,

Boyle, Michael J. "The Legal and Ethical Implications of Drone Warfare." Legal and Ethical Implications of Drone Warfare, 2015, pp. 1–22., doi:10.4324/9781315473451-1.

Brennan, Josh O. "Transcript of Remarks by John O. Brennan, ‘The Efficacy and Ethics of U.S. Counterterrorism Strategy.’" Wilson Center, 30 Apr. 2012,

Byrne, Max. "Drone Use ‘Outside Areas of Active Hostilities’: An Examination of the Legal Paradigms Governing US Covert Remote Strikes." Netherlands International Law Review, vol. 64, no. 1, 2017, pp. 3–41., doi:10.1007/s40802-017-0078-1.

Byrne, Max. "Consent and the Use of Force: an Examination of ‘Intervention by Invitation’ as a Basis for US Drone Strikes in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen." Journal on the Use of Force and International Law, vol. 3, no. 1, Feb. 2016, pp. 97–125., doi:10.1080/20531702.2015.1135658.

Chen, Kai. "Invisible Victims of Drone Strikes in Afghanistan." Peace Review, vol. 27, no. 4, 2015, pp. 456–460., doi:10.1080/10402659.2015.1094326.

Cooper, Helene. "U.S. Strikes Killed Nearly 500 Civilians in 2017, Pentagon Says." The New York Times, The New York Times, 1 June 2018,

Gunaratna, Rohan, and Anders Nielsen. "Al Qaeda in the Tribal Areas of Pakistan and Beyond." Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 30 Dec. 2008, pp. 775–807., doi:10.1080/10576100802291568.

Hudson, Leila, et al. "Drone Warfare in Yemen: Fostering Emirates Through Counterterrorism?" Middle East Policy, vol. 19, no. 3, 2012, pp. 142–156., doi:10.1111/j.1475-4967.2012.00554.x.

Johnston, Patrick B., and Anoop K. Sarbahi. "The Impact of US Drone Strikes on Terrorism in Pakistan." International Studies Quarterly, vol. 60, no. 2, Apr. 2016, pp. 203–219., doi:10.1093/isq/sqv004.

Kaplan, Fred. "The First Drone Strike: How a Cold War Idea Became the Dominant Weapon in the War on Terror." Slate Magazine, Slate, 14 Sept. 2016,

Kaempf, Sebastian. "US Warfare in Somalia and the Trade-off between Casualty-Aversion and Civilian Protection." Small Wars & Insurgencies, vol. 23, no. 3, 2012, pp. 388–413., doi:10.1080/09592318.2012.661608.

Dilanian, Ken, and Courtney Kube. "Trump Administration Wants to Increase CIA Drone Strikes." NBC News, 18 Sept. 2017,

Kube, Courtney, et al. "U.S. Airstrikes against Yemen Terror Groups Grew Sixfold under Trump.", NBCUniversal News Group, 1 Feb. 2018,

Lewis, Michael W. "Guest Post: Pakistan's Official Withdrawal of Consent for Drone Strikes." Opinio Juris, 10 June 2013,

LoBianco, Tom. "Donald Trump on Terrorists: ‘Take out Their Families.’" CNN, 3 Dec. 2015,

Lubell, N., and N. Derejko. "A Global Battlefield?: Drones and the Geographical Scope of Armed Conflict." Journal of International Criminal Justice, vol. 11, no. 1, 2013, pp. 65–88., doi:10.1093/jicj/mqs096.

Maurer, Kathrin, and Andreas Immanuel Graae. "Introduction: Debating Drones: Politics, Media, and Aesthetics" Politik, 2017,

Miller, Greg. "Yemeni President Acknowledges Approving U.S. Drone Strikes." The Washington Post, WP Company, 29 Sept. 2012,

"Our Methodology." The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 2018,

Plaw, Avery, et al. "Practice Makes Perfect?: The Changing Civilian Toll of CIA Drone Strikes in Pakistan." Perspectives on Terrorism, Dec. 2011, pp. 51–69., doi:10.21236/ada599423.

"Procedures for Approving Direct Action Against Terrorist Targets Located Outside the United States and Areas of Active Hostilities." 22 May 2013,

Purkiss, Jessica. "Trump’s First Year in Numbers: Strikes Triple in Yemen and Somalia." The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 19 Jan. 2018,

Purkiss, Jessica, and Abigail Fielding-Smith. "Afghanistan: Reported US Covert Actions 2018." The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 2018,

Rogin, Josh. "Somali President Asks for More American Help." Foreign Policy, 18 Jan. 2013,

Savage, Charlie, and Eric Schmitt. "Trump Poised to Drop Some Limits on Drone Strikes and Commando Raids." The New York Times, The New York Times, 21 Sept. 2017,

Scahill, Jeremy, et al. The Assassination Complex inside the Government’s Secret Drone Warfare Program. Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2017. 155-211. Print.

"Somalia: Reported US covert actions 2018," The Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

Weingart, Scott. "Question- and Data-Driven History." The Scottbot Irregular: Data Are Everywhere, 26 July 2017,

Williams, Brian Glyn. "The CIA’s Covert Predator Drone War in Pakistan, 2004–2010: The History of an Assassination Campaign." Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, vol. 33, no. 10, 2010, pp. 871–892., doi:10.1080/1057610x.2010.508483.

"Yemen: Reported US covert actions 2018," The Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

Zelin, Aaron Y. "Know Your Ansar Al-Sharia." Foreign Policy, 21 Sept. 2012,


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