NEW YORK – President Obama announced today that a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan killed two al Qaeda hostages, an American and an Italian. The White House also said it believed that two other Americans were killed in other U.S. operations in the area.
Jameel Jaffer, American Civil Liberties Union deputy legal director, had this reaction:
“These new disclosures raise troubling questions about the reliability of the intelligence that the government is using to justify drone strikes. In each of the operations acknowledged today, the U.S. quite literally didn’t know who it was killing. These and other recent strikes in which civilians were killed make clear that there is a significant gap between the relatively stringent standards the government says it’s using and the standards that are actually being used. It would of course be easier to assess this gap if the government routinely released information about individual drone strikes. Unfortunately, the president’s stated commitment to transparency can’t be squared with the secrecy that still shrouds virtually every aspect of the government’s drone program.”
The ACLU is currently fighting three Freedom of Information Act lawsuits demanding information on the government’s targeted killing program. The newest, filed last month, seeks the Presidential Policy Guidance that likely controls the program, as well as details on who the government has killed and why.