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Radio News: Obama administration reveals rules for radio-controlled drones

Aug 08, 2016 11:55 pm
The Washington Post reported last week that court-ordered declassified administration guidelines say that President Barack Obama approves radio-controlled drone operations, but does not sign off on every single strike. The 18-page top-secret document was signed by Obama in May 2013, when the administration released a “fact sheet” briefly outlining the secret procedures. The rules say the military must have, “near certainty” that the target is correct and that no civilians will also be hit, and that the target poses a “continuing and imminent” threat to Americans, and capture is not feasible, while the U.S. obeys all relevant domestic and international laws. Last month, the U.S. published aggregate numbers on how many civilians have been killed by CIA and military strikes in countries including Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia and Libya, with 64 to 116 civilians and 2,372 to 2,581 “combatants” in 473 strikes in countries where the United States is not at war. Many nongovernment groups claimed the numbers should be much higher, and all agreed they do not include actions in the war zones of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. An American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit before Judge Colleen McMahon, in the Southern District of New York, forced the release of the rules. “The [Presidential Policy Guidance] PPG should have been released three years ago, but its release now will inform an ongoing debate about the lawfulness and wisdom of the government’s counterterrorism policies,” said ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer. “The release of the PPG and related documents is also a timely reminder of the breadth of the powers that will soon be in the hands of another president.”