US Senate removes drone transparency provision
US senators have voted to remove a provision from an intelligence bill that would oblige the president to disclose information about deadly drone strikes overseas and the victims.
The current bill authorizing intelligence operations in fiscal 2014 passed out of the Senate intelligence committee in November, the Guardian reported Monday.
The provision, which originally required the US president to annually issue a report on the total number of “combatants” and “noncombatant civilians” killed or injured by drones, was removed at the request of James Clapper, the director of national intelligence.
Clapper wrote a letter to Senate leaders assuring them that the Obama administration was trying to find its own ways to disclose details on its assassination drone program.
“The executive branch is currently exploring ways in which it can provide the American people more information about the United States’ use of force outside areas of active hostilities,” Clapper wrote to the leaders of the Senate committee, Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California and Republican Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, on 18 April.
Clapper also wrote that any such information, if it is to be released, would need context and should be drafted carefully so that intelligence methods or classified information are kept secret and protected.
The decision to remove the drone transparency requirement is the latest in efforts by lawmakers to preserve the status quo surrounding the drone strikes.
For about a decade, the United States has been running assassination drone programs in several countries. The drone strikes often result in civilian casualties.
The US continues its drone attacks despite the United Nations warning that the strikes are “targeted killings” that flout international law.