WASHINGTON: Congressman Dennis Kucinich and ten other members of the US House of Representatives have asked US President Barack Obama to explain the targeting criteria for drone strikes and the legal justification for them, without which, the drones are part of US’ undeclared wars.
A letter, circulated by Democrat Kucinich, expresses concern over the use of drone technology against suspected militants by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).
In a press release, Kucinich said that “these drone strikes are conducted in the name of our national security and yet the Congress and the American people have not been provided with the legal justification for such strikes. The use of drones must be subject to the same legal constrains and oversight as any other weapon. These attacks undermine the moral values and the strategic goals of the United States. The fact that they are conducted with complete impunity and with no accountability threatens to set a dangerous precedent that could unravel the very laws and international standards the US helped to create.”
The letter, says that “as members of the Congress, we are deeply concerned about the full impact of drone strikes.” It asks the President to provide the “targeting criteria for “signature” strikes; 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 analysed.”
Earlier, speaking on the floor of the House, Congressman Kucinich, had said that the use of drones had taken them into an undeclared war in Pakistan. “Gore Vidal called it ‘perpetual war for perpetual peace.’ The Administration’s unrestricted use of drones has taken us into undeclared wars in Pakistan, Yemen, Somali, Sudan and who knows where else, destroying not only alleged militants but making a direct hit on international law and the US Constitution.”
He also questioned the criteria which determine drone, and or air strikes, all without any retribution or explanation as to why. “Drone strikes are killing militants now identified as males of fighting age. What are the rules? Trust us. What are the legal justifications? Trust us. Haven’t 350 innocent civilians been killed? Trust us, we’re told. No transparency, no accountability and until now, no Congress,” he lamented.
“The Constitution requires Congress to weigh in and demand information and legal justification for drone strikes. That is what my letter to the Administration seeks. Drone strikes absent a Constitutional basis sanctions the wholesale slaughter of innocents,” Kucinich asserted.
“One nation’s drones over another nation’s air space is an act of war.”
With 50 nations exploring the development of drones, a $100 billion business, we cannot permit this nation to further incite ‘perpetual war for perpetual peace.”
The letter follows an article published in The New York Times earlier this week that stated that the President not just signed off on drone strikes, but also had a kill list.
The US, including President Obama have conceded conducting drone strikes in a number of countries including Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.
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