[pjw] NEWS: US Fails Own Commissioned "Report Card" on Drone Policy (Antiwar 3/8)

Peace and Justice Works pjw at pjw.info
Sun Mar 13 16:02:34 EDT 2016

Thought I should pass this on as it outlines specifics about what the US 
promised to do regarding drone policy tow years ago, and how very little 
has been done.

For what it's worth, drone strikes have gone down dramatically in those 
two years, but they;re still going on  (with one in Yemen last week:
and one in Somalia killing as many as 150 people a few days ago:
dan h
peace and justice works

EPIC FAIL: The Stimson Center Report Card on US Lethal Drone Policy
    Laurie Calhoun, March 08, 2016

    It has been two years since the US government-commissioned Stimson Task
    Force on US Drone Policy issued its [23]first report in 2014. I found
    the text of that document rather gentle on the drone warriors, but was
    not too surprised to find the group affirming the right of the US
    government to use remote-control killing technology in its
    counterterrorism initiatives. After all, some of the task force members
    were involved in the drone industry and so could not be expected to
    object to the very idea of targeted killing. Given that the authors of
    the report were selected by the government to assess the governmentÕs
    own program, it was something of a relief to find that there was any
    significant criticism at all. There seemed to be hope that the Obama
    administration would take appropriate actions in response to the
    Stimson Report recommendations:

     1. Conduct a strategic review and cost-benefit analysis of the role of
        lethal UAVs in targeted counterterrorism strikes

     2. Improve transparency in targeted UAV strikes:
          a. Acknowledge use of lethal force in foreign countries, both to
             Congress and to the American Public
          b. Release information on:
               i. Approximate number of strikes carried out by the military
              ii. Approximate number of strikes carried out by the CIA
              iii. General location of strikes
              iv. Number of those known to have been killed
               v. Number of civilians known to have been killed
              vi. Identities of civilians known to have been killed
          c. Order preparation and public release of a detailed report
             explaining legal basis under domestic and international law of
             U.S. lethal drone program
     3. Transfer general responsibility for lethal drone strikes from the
        CIA to the military
     4. Develop more robust oversight and accountability mechanisms for
        targeted strikes outside of traditional battlefields
          a. Create a nonpartisan independent commission to review lethal
             UAV policy
     5. Foster the development of appropriate international norms for use
        of lethal force outside of traditional battlefields
     6. Assess UAV-related technological developments and likely future
        trends, and develop an interagency research and development
        strategy geared toward advancing U.S. national security interests
        in a manner consistent with U.S. values
     7. Review and reform UAV-related export control rules and FAA rules
     8. FAA should accelerate its efforts to meet the requirements of the
        2012 FAA Reauthorization Bill

    The recently released Òreport cardÓ finds that the drone warriors have
    done nearly nothing to address the concerns expressed in the original

    The Grades:

     1. Strategic Review and cost-benefit analysis? Grade: U. Stimson
        Center finds that there is no evidence that anything has been done
        on this front.

     2. Improve Transparency? Grade: D. Stimson Center finds that only
        Congressional intelligence committees have been able to review
        strikes, with continued reluctance to publicly acknowledge the use
        of UCAVs abroad. The administration has made nearly no information
        available on the details of strikes. Little information has been
        released regarding evidentiary basis for strikes, and usually only
        under court order.

     3. Transfer of responsibility for drone program from CIA to DoD?
        Grade: D. Stimson Center finds that the administration has done
        little on this front, and appears to be discussing a dual command
        structure incorporating both CIA and DoDÐin other words, not
        following the recommendation.

     4. Develop robust oversight and accountability? Grade: F. Stimson
        Center finds that the culture of secrecy continues on, obstructing
        any efforts at achieving either oversight or accountability. There
        is no evidence that the administration has worked toward creating
        an independent commission to review UCAV policy.

     5. Develop international norms? Grade: D. Stimson Center finds that
        little has been done to foster international norms, although
        Òprinciples for proper useÓ were issued as part of the revised US
        drone export policy.

     6. Develop strategy to advance U.S. security in a manner consistent
        with U.S. values? Grade: U. Stimson Center finds no evidence that
        the US government has conducted strategic analysis of the use of
        lethal drones.

     7. Produce an Export Policy? Grade: C. Stimson Center affirms that the
        US government has developed a policy for the exportation of drones.

     8. Accelerate FAA efforts to meet the requirements of the 2012 FAA
        Reauthorization Bill? Grade: C. Stimson Center finds that the US
        government has been slow to adopt rules regulating the use of civil
        drones in US airspace.

    My Conclusion: The US drone program is no more transparent than it was
    five years ago, when Anwar al-Awlaki and his son were executed by the
    US government in Yemen. There is no accountability for the deaths
    caused by the drone warriors. Now that drones are being exported not
    only by the United States, but also Israel and China, it seems safe to
    say that the genie let out of the bottle by Barack Obama when he chose
    to normalize assassination through the use of this new technology will
    be very difficult, if not impossible, to control.

    There are no international norms governing the use of lethal drones,
    beyond the protocols already enshrined in the UN Charter, the Universal
    Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Conventions, all of which
    have been abandoned by the drone warriors, setting a danger precedent
    likely to be followed by future political leaders, as has already been
    done by British Prime Minister David Cameron, among others.

    The use of lethal drones to kill potentially dangerous persons,
    including citizens, suspected of possibly conspiring to commit possible
    future crimes against the state remains and will remain President
    ObamaÕs lasting legacy.

    To access PDF versions of the complete reports, click on these links:
    [24]Stimson Center Report 2014; [25]Stimson Center Report 2016: Grading
    Progress on U.S. Drone Policy

    Laurie Calhoun, a philosopher and cultural critic, is the author
    of[26]We Kill Because We Can: From Soldiering to Assassination in the
    Drone Age(Zed Books, September 2015; paperback forthcoming in 2016)
    and[27]War and Delusion: A Critical Examination (Palgrave Macmillan
    2013; paperback forthcoming in 2016). [28]Visit her website.
23. http://www.stimson.org/content/recommendations-and-report-stimson-task-force-us-drone-policy-0
   24. http://www.stimson.org/content/recommendations-and-report-stimson-task-force-us-drone-policy-0
   25. http://www.stimson.org/content/obama-administration-receives-poor-grades-reforming-us-drone-policy
   28. https://thedroneage.wordpress.com/

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