Saturday, September 22, 2012

ACLU: CIA refusal to explain targeted killings 'unlawful'


The Central Intelligence Agency should be ordered to say whether it has documents explaining the use of unmanned drones to kill individuals in Pakistan and Yemen, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) told a federal appeals court in Washington.

The ACLU, in arguments on Thursday in Washington, said the CIA’s refusal to confirm or deny that it has records on the drone program is unlawful because President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta have publicly acknowledged the program’s existence in public interviews.

“We think it’s clear -- and the government now acknowledges -- that there is a drone program run by the U.S. government,” Jameel Jaffer, an ACLU lawyer told a three-judge panel today. “The hard question is what is the CIA’s role and whether the CIA is actively using drones to carry out targeted killings.”

The dispute involves a Freedom of Information Act request by the ACLU seeking records on the legal basis for using unmanned aerial vehicles to kill human targets, the number of strikes, the selection of targets, whether the program involves cooperation with foreign countries, the determination of civilian casualties and the evaluation of completed strikes.

The use of American drones has provoked anger abroad, particularly in Pakistan, where human rights groups say innocent people have been victims. Bloomberg


The CIA and the U.S. military have used unmanned aerial vehicles known as drones to target and kill those Washington calls “suspected militants” in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Libya.

In 2008, after Barack Obama won the presidency in the U.S., the drone strikes escalated and soon began occurring almost weekly, later nearly daily, and so became a permanent feature of life for those living in the tribal borderlands of northern Pakistan. CBS News

A report released by the United Nations in June 2010 called the drone attacks part of a "strongly asserted but ill-defined license to kill without accountability". CNN

Sourcing on civilian deaths is weak and the numbers are often exaggerated, but numbers suggest that for every militant killed, 10 or so civilians also died. Brookings

Pakistani local sources say more than 2,800 civilians have died in the drone attacks since

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