ACLU Statement on Pentagon's New Civilian Harm Directive

January 27, 2022 6:15 pm

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Today, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced a new directive aimed at preventing civilian harm. This comes after months of investigations into U.S.-caused civilian casualties, including the Aug. 29, 2021 drone strike in Kabul that killed aid worker Zemari Ahmadi and nine members of his extended family, including seven children.

Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, issued the following response:

“While a serious Defense Department focus on civilian harm is long overdue and welcome, it’s unclear that this directive will be enough. What’s needed is a truly systemic overhaul of our country’s civilian harm policies to address the massive structural flaws, likely violations of international law, and probable war crimes that have occurred in the last 20 years. Any comprehensive review also needs to address and end unlawful and unaccountable lethal strikes even outside of warzones. Actions will speak louder than words, and we need urgent action to end 20 years of war-based approaches that have caused devastating harm to Muslim, Brown, and Black civilians around the world.”

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The ACLU’s National Security Project is dedicated to ensuring that U.S. national security policies and practices are consistent with the Constitution, civil liberties, and human rights.