by Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich
June 13, 2012
Bipartisan Letter Calls for Legal Justification of “Signature” Drone Strikes
Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and twenty-five fellow Members of Congress today wrote to President Obama demanding the White House’s legal justification for “signature” drone strikes, which could significantly increase the risk of killing innocent civilians or those who have no relationship to a potential attack on the U.S., further enflaming anti-U.S. sentiment abroad.
In the letter Members of Congress demand “the process by which ‘signature’ strikes are authorized and executed (drone strikes where the identity of the person killed is unknown); mechanisms used by the CIA and JSOC to ensure that such killings are legal; the nature of the follow-up that is conducted when civilians are killed or injured; and the mechanisms that ensure civilian casualty numbers are collected, tracked and analyzed.” The effort to gain greater transparency and accountability over the U.S. combat drone program has already been endorsed by Amnesty International, CIVIC and the Center for Constitutional Rights.
“We are concerned that the use of such ‘signature’ strikes could raise the risk of killing innocent civilians or individuals who may have no relationship to attacks on the United States,” write Kucinich et al. “Our drone campaigns already have virtually no transparency, accountability or oversight. We are further concerned about the legal grounds for such strikes under the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force.
“The implications of the use of drones for our national security are profound. They are faceless ambassadors that cause civilian deaths, and are frequently the only direct contact with Americans that the targeted communities have. They can generate powerful and enduring anti-American sentiment.”
The letter has been signed by John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Fortney Pete Stark (D-CA), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Michael M. Honda (D-CA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Bob Filner (D-CA), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson (D-GA), Lynn C. Woolsey (D-CA), Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL), Ron Paul (R-TX), James P. McGovern (D-MA), John Lewis (D-GA), George Miller (D-CA), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY), Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR), Peter Welch (D-VT), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Keith Ellison (D-MN) Walter B. Jones (R-NC), and Donna Edwards (D-MD).
Congressman Kucinich has led the Congress in opposing the use of combat drones against suspected terrorists abroad since the first known attack in 2004. In February 2006, he asked the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency to suspend the use of Predator drones citing the “high toll in innocent civilian life.” In the 111th Congress, he sponsored a bill to prohibit the extrajudicial killing of U.S. citizens abroad in response to revelations that the Administration included U.S. citizens on its targeted killing list.
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