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ACLU Requests Information On Predator Drone Program

Asks For Data On “Targeted Killings” Of Suspected Terrorists And Civilian Casualties

January 13, 2010

NEW YORK – In a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed today, the American Civil Liberties Union asked the government to disclose the legal basis for its use of predator drones to conduct “targeted killings” overseas. In particular, the ACLU seeks to find out when, where and against whom drone strikes can be authorized, and how the United States ensures compliance with international laws relating to extrajudicial killings.

“The American public has a right to know whether the drone program is consistent with international law, and that all efforts are made to minimize the loss of innocent lives,” said Jonathan Manes, a legal fellow with the ACLU National Security Project. “The Obama administration has reportedly expanded the drone program, but it has not explained publicly what the legal basis for the program is, what limitations it recognizes on the use of drones outside active theaters of war and what the civilian casualty toll has been thus far. We’re hopeful that the request we’ve filed today will encourage the Obama administration to disclose information about the basis, scope and implementation of the program.”

The administration has used unmanned drones to target and kill individuals not only in Afghanistan and Iraq but also in Pakistan and Yemen. The technology allows U.S. personnel to observe targeted individuals and launch missiles intended to kill them from control centers located thousands of miles away.

Today’s FOIA request was filed with the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice (including the Office of Legal Counsel), the Department of State and the CIA.

“The use of drones to conduct targeted killings raises complicated questions – not just legal questions but policy and moral questions as well,” said Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project. “These are not questions that should be decided behind closed doors. They are questions that should be debated openly, and the public should have access to information that would allow it to participate meaningfully in the debate.”

The ACLU’s request seeks, in addition to information about the legal basis for the drone program, data regarding the number of civilians and non-civilians killed in the strikes. Estimates of civilian casualties from the government and human rights organizations differ dramatically, from the dozens to the hundreds, giving an incomplete and inconsistent picture of the human cost of the program.

media@aclu.org

January 15, 2010 - Posted by | War Crimes

1 Comment »

  1. How about we just kill who ever we want, against an enemy who wants nothing more than to destroy all of America. If the world was run by ultra librals, like those of the ACLU, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. It would have suppressed/censored by Arab conservatives and those who gave opposition would be beheaded. I don’t oppose the destruction of an entire people if it means my own survival. This isn’t a matter of race or religion, this is a matter of an enemy that is unable to interpret reality from ultra conservative religion. Until we can live in a world where ultra fanaticals can cease to exist, regardless if they are Muslim or Christian, we will always have wars like this. I will always be on the side that chooses not to cowardly target innocent children during soccer games or detonate suicide bombs amidst the civilian populace; regardless of what the ACLU feels about our “targeting practices.”

    Terrorists and ultra fanaticals that threaten the world and civilized life are being deleted from this planet. What ever the cost, I think it’s worth it.

    Comment by James | February 1, 2010 | Reply


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