We Need More Transparency Around Drone Strikes

Jun 15, 2012

FCNL has joined 15 other organizations in signing the following letter to President Obama calling for greater transparency around drone operations and strikes. The letter was written in support of a congressional letter to the same end, signed by Representatives Kucinich and Conyers as well as 23 other members of Congress.

June 5, 2012
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

As leading organizations working to protect civilians caught in conflict, we write in support of the request by members of Congress for greater transparency regarding remotely piloted aircraft (RPA or drone) operations and, specifically, “signature” strikes.

We echo Congressional requests that information be released to Congress regarding US drone use including: targeting criteria for “signature” strikes; mechanisms used by the CIA and JSOC to ensure that such targeting is within the confines of international law, including which laws are being applied to these cases and definitions of a civilian; the procedure in place for investigations when civilians are known to have suffered losses of life, limb or property as a result of strikes; and mechanisms in place to track, analyze and publicly recognize civilian casualties.

As the members of Congress noted, the negative ramifications of covert drone use by the United States are of great concern. Strikes outside accepted theaters of armed conflict are often the only contact those communities may have with the United States, and are generating fierce anti-American sentiment. This is particularly true if such strikes cause civilian harm and no explanation or recognition of such losses is offered, as is consistently the case. Americans and their elected leaders have a right to know what and how drone actions are being taken in their name, and if drone strikes are consistent with or violate applicable international law.

We believe the use of drones should be subject to the same level of transparency and legal constraints as any other weapon. Therefore, we resoundingly voice our support for the recent request by members of Congress that targeting criteria for “signature” strikes, the mechanisms used to ensure that such strikes are legal, and that follow-up and tracking mechanisms be made available. If the US is to continue as a leader on the international stage, it must take responsibility for its actions abroad and explain them at home.


Campaign For Innocent Victims In Conflict
Amnesty International
Center for Constitutional Rights
Friends Committee on National Legislation
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Peace Action
Peace Action West
Peace Action New York State
3P Human Security: Partners for Peacebuilding Policy
Peace and Justice Resource Center (Tom Hayden)
Fellowship of Reconciliation
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, U.S. Section
Arab American Institute
Just Foreign Policy

See the original congressional letter.
See the original organizational letter.

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