US Congressmen demand justification for drone strikes

Send letter to President Obama as latest drone strike in North Waziristan kills five.

Huma Imtiaz June 14, 2012


Twenty-six US Congressmen have sent a letter to President Barack Obama “demanding a legal justification from the White House for signature drone strikes.”

According to a press release, Congressman Dennis Kucinich and 25 other members of the Congress said that drone strikes “could significantly increase risks of killing innocent civilians or those with no relationship to a potential attack on the US and further inflame anti-American sentiment abroad”.

The letter, signed by 24 Democrat and 2 Republican members of the US House, demands information regarding the authorisation and execution of signature drone strikes along with the mechanisms used by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) to ensure the legality of such killings.

It also questions “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.”

Congressman Kucinich said, “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.”

Drone attack in North Waziristan

Meanwhile, a fresh drone strike killed at least five foreign militants in the North Waziristan tribal region on Wednesday.

A US pilot-less aircraft fired two missiles at a vehicle on Esha-Razmak Road in Miramshah, a security official said.

Another official, however, put the number of missiles fired at four – only two of them hitting their target. He added that five Uzbek militants on board the vehicle were killed on the spot.

The vehicle was hit while it was passing through Malik Azdar village, about 15 kilometres east of Miramshah Bazaar.

Malik Azdar village is inhabited by the Borakhel, a sub-tribe of the Waziris. “Residents rushed to the scene and started extinguishing the fire on the vehicle,” he added. Witnesses claimed that five charred bodies were retrieved from the vehicle.

Earlier, 15 militants were killed on June 4 when a US drone fired four missiles on a militant compound in the Mir Ali sub-division of North Waziristan.


Published In The Express Tribune, June 14th, 2012.