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UN calls for more transparency on US drone warfare

06-21-2012 10:43 BJT

The UN's human rights council in Geneva has asked the US for more transparency and accountability regarding drone warfare.

But after a 2-day discussion, the UN “special investigator for extra- judicial killings,” Christof Heyns still didn’t have the answers, saying “I don't think we have the full answer to the legal framework, we certainly don't have the answer to the accountability issues.”  Nor did human rights chief Navi Pillay, saying “it’s unclear that all persons targeted are combatants or directly participating in hostilities.”

During the bush presidency, there were 429 drone related deaths between 2004 and 2008.   But president Obama expanded the practice.
During his tenure, 2,025 people have died in drone attacks–his administration targeting specific terror leaders like al Qaeda propagandist, Anwar al Awlaki—operating in Yemen.

Power to use lethal force outside war zones is concentrated at the white house.  President Obama pictured here in his weekly briefing with his counter terrorism chief John Brennan and national security advisor Tom Donilon, reportedly pours over photos and biographies of the targets, known as the “kill list.”
 
Secretary of state Hillary Clinton and her pentagon counterpart Leon Panetta are consulted, but the missions targeting individual terror suspects are carried out by the CIA.

International law expert Gary Solis says this is part of the legal dilemma.

Solis said, “We have in the US Two drone programs—the military and the CIA. The military is clearly under the laws of armed conflict. They may employ drones as another weapon of war.  The question arises over the legitimacy of civilians using weapons of war, however, and the CIA and the contractors.”
 
Also questions about attacks on individuals in other sovereign nations. The US uses drones against al Qaeda in Pakistan and Yemen and against the al Shabab terror network in Somalia.

Solis said, “Where is the battlefield? Can the US lawfully deploy drones in Yemen, Somalia and so forth? And that is the question which is unresolved in international law.”

It’s believed that Yemen gave tacit permission for the al Awlaki killing, but the method is still a great source of tension between the US and Pakistan.

Over 250 strikes have been carried out on the Afghan/Pakistani border over the past 3 years.  Pakistan says too many civilians and in one case their own troops—are becoming what the CIA calls “collateral damage.”

 

Editor:James |Source: CNTV

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