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Drone Killings a Stain Upon Our Nation


By Dennis Kucinich

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 31, 2012) -- Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) has opposed 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. Today, he is leading a growing number of Members of Congress to demand the President’s legal justifications for drone strikes.

The New York Times recently revealed a series of stunning revelations about the secretive U.S. drone campaign abroad. 1) President Obama personally authorizes each drone strike.  2) The White House continues to fail to provide its legal rationale for the killings which include Americans and civilians. 3) Any male of fighting age killed by a drone is automatically assumed to be a militant. At the same time, The Washington Post has reported that our use of drones in Yemen has actually strengthened Al-Qaeda’s recruiting efforts and generating sympathy for our enemies.

“When Congress passed the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, it did not authorize endless war against countries we are not at war with.  These drone strikes are being conducted in the name of our national security and yet 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 morals, 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 U.S. helped to create.  Even the most ardent supporter of the current President should consider the precedent created by granting the President the power to circumvent the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution,” said Kucinich.

Congressman Kucinich is currently inviting his colleagues to join him in writing to President Obama to request “the targeting criteria for ‘signature’ strikes (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 letter, endorsed by Amnesty International, has already been signed by nine members of Congress.

See a copy of the letter circulating in Congress here

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates that at least 2,292 people have been killed by U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004. The Bureau estimates that of that number, over 350 are civilians. A July 2009 Brookings Institution report stated ten civilians die for every one suspected militant from U.S. drone strikes. Yet another study by the New American Foundation concluded that out of 114 drone attacks in Pakistan, at least 32% of those killed by the strikes were civilians.

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