Is there a program to use drones to kill terrorists? Yes. It has been deployed.
What are the details? Obama won’t say. You have to have a need to know. You don’t have such a need.
The Obama administration has sought to block the release of documents related to its use of robot drones to strike suspected terrorists overseas, claiming that it can still not admit that the secretive programme of targeted killing exists.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the New York Times have both submitted freedom of information requests to the department of justice, the CIA and the Pentagon seeking information about the programme. They have now gone to court to try and force the government to answer those requests and release details of its activities.
However, in a motion filed just before midnight ET on Wednesday, the government asked for the cases to be dismissed, saying that to release information would hurt national security, even while still insisting it cannot admit any such programme of targeted killing exists.
“Whether or not the CIA has the authority to be, or is in fact, directly involved in targeted lethal operations remains classified,” the government said in a court filing.
Do terrorists know about this program? Of course. They are the targets.
Then why withhold information from Americans? They don’t have a need to know.
There have also been extensive leaks to the press, notably the New York Times, which recently ran a highly detailed story about a “kill list” that the Obama administration maintains. . . .
US drone strikes have been credited by the administration with having badly damaged al-Qaida in places like Pakistan and Yemen, but are widely criticised by rights groups over the secrecy that makes it impossible to determine casualty figures, whether they are military or civilians, or on what legal basis the attacks occur.
Particular points of contention have been the New York Times’ revelation that the administration considers any male of military age in a strike zone when a drone hits to be a militant and thus a legitimate target.
The deaths via drone attacks of American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son – who was also an American citizen – have likewise earned condemnation from many human rights and civil liberties organisations.
The London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which runs a drone-monitoring project, estimates that the US has used drones against targets in Pakistan up to 332 times in the past eight years, with a huge jump in activity under Obama. The Bureau believes up to 800 civilians may have been killed in the attacks. It has also monitored scores of drone attacks in Yemen and Somalia.
Think of Obama as Droneman.
Obama himself referenced the programme when asked about it in January. The president said the programme used only “precise, precision strikes against al-Qaida and their affiliates.”
The use of drones is increasing. They are cheaper to keep in the skies than manned aircraft. Costs are coming down as production rises.
Drones are being deployed inside the USA for domestic law enforcement to employ.