5,000 signatures reached
To: President Barack Obama
Demand Transparency on U.S. Drone Strike Targets
According to a number of civil and human rights groups, drone warfare has led to hundreds of civilian deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia – and a possible violation of international law. We want the government to name who it has killed with U.S. drones, where, and why, including an explanation of the legal authority and evidence supporting each of those killings.
Why is this important?
On May 28, 2014, President Obama gave the commencement address at West Point stressing the importance of “taking strikes only when we face continuing, imminent threat and only where there is near certainty of no civilian casualties.” He also acknowledged the importance of greater transparency “about both the basis of our counter-terrorism actions and the manner in which they are carried out” because “when we cannot explain our efforts clearly and publicly, we face terrorist propaganda and international suspicion, we erode legitimacy with our partners and our people, and we reduce accountability in our own government.”
These statements were made one year after President Obama made similar comments at the National Defense University but the U.S. government has still not publicly disclosed any further information about its targeted killing operations. Yet human rights and civil rights groups have uncovered evidence of hundreds of civilian deaths unreported by the U.S. government in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia.
As CIA Director John Brennan has said, the United States “need[s] to acknowledge publicly” any mistaken killings and should “make public the overall numbers of civilian deaths resulting from U.S. strikes targeting al-Qa’ida.”
I believe the public has an inalienable right to know whom their government is targeting and at what collateral cost.
The U.S. secret drone war in the identified countries is damaging our reputation abroad and arguably inspiring new terrorists instead of thwarting them. Our government must be transparent about whom it is targeting with drones, and why, in order to shed light on whether or not the U.S. government is violating international law.
With the Obama administration currently considering the use of drone strikes in Iraq, which would undoubtedly lead to civilian casualties, now is the perfect time to demand transparency on the civilians killed by previous drone strikes in Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia. We want the government to name who it has killed with U.S. drones, where and why, including an explanation of the legal authority and evidence supporting each of those killings.
Photo by drsmith7383 on Flickr