Senator wants details on drone use in Obama's targeted-kill program
WASHINGTON — A top Democratic lawmaker and a former deputy chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff called on Tuesday on the Obama administration to make public more information about its top-secret targeted killing program amid questions about the legality and effectiveness of hundreds of CIA drone strikes in Pakistan and elsewhere.
“More transparency is needed to maintain the support of the American people and the international community” for drone strikes, said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., a key Obama ally and the chairman of the Constitution subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The White House refused to send a witness to the Senate's first open hearing on the issue despite President Obama's vow to be more forthcoming about a counterterrorism weapon that has become a despised symbol of U.S. foreign policy in many parts of the world.
“I am disappointed that the administration declined to provide witnesses to testify at today's hearing,” Durbin said.
The hearing was held nearly 12 years after the United States launched its first drone strike, underscoring what some legal scholars and civil and human rights experts have criticized as insufficient oversight by Congress.
But the killings of four U.S. citizens — three of them accidentally — in Yemen and Obama's appointment of John Brennan, his former counterterrorism chief and overseer of the targeted killing program, to head the CIA have increased pressure on lawmakers to examine the use of drones in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and Libya.
The program remains shrouded in secrecy. The administration insists that civilian casualties have been “exceedingly rare” despite a huge expansion in strikes under Obama. Independent studies put the number of strikes since 2001 at more than 360 and estimate that as many as 3,533 people, including up to 884 civilians, have died, the vast majority in CIA operations in Pakistan's tribal area.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Issa demands Labor records that he says show government waste
- Wis. woman identified shooter before dying, court papers show
- Conn. expert set to guide Obamacare exchanges
- Police: Drugs, alcohol not factors in Freeh crash
- Teen gets 5-15 years for killing 4 friends in 100-mph crash
- Powerful GOP leaders linked to tax-avoidance
- Cause of New Mexico nuclear-waste accident remains a mystery
- Audio of Mo. shooting emerges, said to be authentic
- Veterans promised policy changes for better health
- Study: Facebook, Twitter stifle discourse on hot-button issues
- Legal experts back business push for immigration changes