Author Topic: Congress rejects mandatory numbering of drone casualties  (Read 255 times)

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Offline flowers

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Congress rejects mandatory numbering of drone casualties
« on: November 22, 2013, 04:28:31 PM »

wo proposals that could have brought new levels of accountability and transparency to the United States’ controversial weaponized drone program were rejected by the House of Representatives on Thursday.

The amendments, both introduced by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-California), were offered as possible provisions to be tacked onto the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014. The Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee canned the proposals, however, and a markup of the bill absent those amendments was passed by a voice vote.

Schiff, a 53-year-old lawmaker with nearly two decades of public service under his belt, unsuccessfully proposed amendments that would have required the US intelligence community to annually disclose the number of casualties caused by American drone strikes and install an independent review board to oversee instances when US citizens may be targeted for execution by unmanned aerial vehicles.

Although independent, international watchdog groups have attributed US drone strikes with thousands of casualties, including many involving innocent civilians, the White House has rarely acknowledged the largely covert operations.

During a May 2013 address at the National Defense University, US President Barack Obama said the nation was entering a new phase with regards to it counterterrorism measures, and that, “before any strike is taken, there must be near certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured, the highest standard we can set.”

“There’s a wide gap between US assessments of such casualties and nongovernmental reports,” the president acknowledged at the time. In a statement on his website this week, Rep. Schiff said the first of two amendments — one which mandates the annual reporting of combatant and non-combatant deaths and injuries —“would help narrow that gap.”

“The production of this report will require minimal resources, but will provide a modest but important measure of transparency and oversight,” Schiff insisted.

Patrick Boland, a spokesman for Rep. Schiff, confirmed to Reuters on Thursday that that amendment was rejected by a vote of 15-5.

The second proposal offered by the Democrat would have mandated that “red team” reports be prepared before a US person is potentially targeted with lethal force, and that those files be eventually declassified a decade later.

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