March 7, 2016

NEW YORK — The Obama administration said today that it would reveal how many people it believes it has killed in drone and other airstrikes around the world since 2009, including the number of civilians.

The reports would cover deaths in countries including Yemen and Pakistan, as opposed to conventional war zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan. The administration said the first numbers would be released in coming weeks and provided annually in the future.

Jameel Jaffer, American Civil Liberties Union deputy legal director, had this reaction:

“This is an important step, but it should be part of a broader reconsideration of the secrecy surrounding the drone campaign. The administration should also release the legal memos that supply the purported legal basis for drone strikes — particularly those carried out away from recognized battlefields. It should acknowledged individual strikes, and it should investigate and explain strikes that kill innocent bystanders. The authority to use lethal force should be subject to more stringent oversight by the public, by Congress, and, at least in some contexts, by the courts.”

On Friday in an ACLU Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, the government told the court in a letter that it would release a redacted version of the Presidential Policy Guidance, also known as “the Playbook,” a secret document that sets out the law and rules that the government must follow when it carries out targeted killings.

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