Wednesday May 22, 201306:36 PM GMT
CIA to continue running US drone war in Pakistan
Wed May 22, 2013 6:36PM
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Despite rumors that the Obama administration was planning to shift the drone program from the CIA to the Pentagon for the sake of accountability, U.S. officials say the CIA will continue to run the targeted killing program in Pakistan.

 

According to the officials, who remained anonymous, the decision to keep the CIA in charge of the program for the time being is so that it can remain secret and so that the Obama administration can maintain deniability.

 

This is in keeping with the Obama administration’s approach from the very beginning. As Rosa Brooks, Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center, told the Senate last month, the secrecy of the drone war obstructs accountability and undermines the rule of law.

 

“When a government claims for itself the unreviewable power to kill anyone, anywhere on earth, at any time, based on secret criteria and secret information discussed in a secret process by largely unnamed individuals, it undermines the rule of law,” Brooks said.

 

The decision not only to keep the drone war in Pakistan secret, but to continue it at all is increasingly controversial.

 

Ben Emmerson, the UN special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, said earlier this year that the drone war in Pakistan is illegal because it violates Pakistani sovereignty, insisting that Pakistani authorities do not consent to drone strikes on their territory, contrary to claims made by U.S. officials.

 

“As a matter of international law the U.S. drone campaign in Pakistan is therefore being conducted without the consent of the elected representatives of the people, or the legitimate government of the state. It involves the use of force on the territory of another state without its consent and is therefore a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty,” Emmerson said. Antiwar

 

FACTS & FIGURES

 

In February, Obama administration officials said they were considering shifting some of the CIA's covert drone operations to the U.S. military. UPI

 

CIA flights are classified unless the president specifically declassifies them. The military, however, could release information more freely. UPI


In his State of the Union speech on Feb. 12, President Barack Obama pledged to provide greater transparency into top-secret drone strikes that have killed hundreds of civilians in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia.


During a speech at the Easley Rotary Club in Easley South Carolina on Feb. 19, Sen. Lindsey Graham divulged secret drone casualty estimates. Graham said, “We’ve killed 4,700. Sometimes you hit innocent people.” Antiwar


A report by researchers at the Stanford and NYU schools of law found in September that the drone program is “terrorizing” the people of Pakistan and that it is having “counterproductive” effects. Antiwar

 

"The number of 'high-level' militants killed as a percentage of total casualties is extremely low -- estimated at just 2% [of deaths]", says the Stanford/NYU report.

 

The U.S. government was accused of hiding the truth about its drone program after leaked intelligence files revealed that it was targeting unidentified militants who posed no immediate threat to the United States. The Independent

 

Despite President Barack Obama’s public promise that the CIA’s armed Predators and Reapers were only firing on those suspected of plotting against America, top-secret documents show that in one year alone almost half of those killed were simply listed as “unknown extremists”. The Independent

 

ISH/HJ

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