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American Dream Betrayed

Obama Drone Disclosures A Sorry Half-Measure

In response to Saturday's release of the Presidential Policy Guidance - a document setting out U.S. standards that appears to apply to some drone and other air strikes overseas - Amnesty International USA's Security & Human Rights Program Director Naureen Shah issued the following statement:

While this policy guidance appears to set an important precedent for protecting civilians and limiting killings, it is impossible to assess whether and how it's been followed. The Obama Administration has still never provided basic information needed to assess the drone program, including the names and identities of people killed in the strikes.

"The Obama administration's disclosures are welcome but they only tell part of the story, and obscure disturbing practices. We still know extremely little about the standards that would govern signature strikes and so-called rescuer strikes, which have involved potentially unlawful killings.

Last month, following the Administration's release of remarkably low civilian casualty figures, Amnesty International USA wrote the CIA to urge it to finally acknowledge responsibility for the death of Mamana Bibi, a woman who was killed in a drone strike witnessed by her grandchildren.

Amnesty International reported on this strike in its 2013 report, Will I Be Next? U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan. Despite extensive documentation as well as worldwide media attention, the U.S. government has neither confirmed or denied Amnesty's findings, or explained Bibi's death.

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"The presidential policy guidance, or 'playbook,' as it has been called, does not provide new insight into when, where, and under what authorities someone can be killed, or what kind of intelligence is necessary to make that decision," Cora Currier reports for The Intercept.

"The guidance is one more exhibit in the Obama administration's institutionalization of counterterrorism strikes, by drones and other means, far from conventional battlefields."

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The "playbook" was released as a result of a lawsuit filed by the ACLU. A statement from ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer:

We welcome the release of these documents, and particularly the release of the Presidential Policy Guidance that has supplied the policy framework for the drone campaign since May 2013.

The PPG provides crucial information about policies that have resulted in the deaths of thousands of people, including hundreds of non-combatants, and about the bureaucracy that the Obama administration has constructed to oversee and implement those policies.

The 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. 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.

Moreover, the ACLU also said:

"[Q]uestions remain about where the PPG applies, whether the president has waived its requirements in particular instances, and how the PPG's relatively stringent standards can be reconciled with the accounts of eye witnesses, journalists, and human rights researches who have documented large numbers of bystander casualties."

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Previously:
* Drones Not Just For Threats Against America Anymore.

* Why Obama Says He Won't Release Drone Documents.

* Obama's Drone Death Figures Don't Add Up.

* Dissecting Obama's Standards On Drone Strike Deaths.

* The Best Watchdog Journalism On Obama's National Security Policies.

* Everything You Wanted To Know About Drones But Were Afraid To Ask.

* Obama Claims Right To Kill Anyone Anytime.

* The Drone War Doctrine We Still Know Nothing About.

* How Does The U.S. Mark Unidentified Men In Pakistan And Yemen As Drone Targets?

* Hearts, Minds And Dollars: Condolence Payments In The Drone Strike Age.

* Boy's Death In Drone Strike Tests Obama's Transparency Pledge.

* Does The U.S. Pay Families When Drones Kill Innocent Yemenis?

* Confirmed: Obama's Drone War Is Illegal And Immoral.

* Six Months After Obama Promised To Divulge More On Drones, Here's What We Still Don't Know.

* One Month After Drones Report, Administration Still Fails To Explain Killings.

* What If A Drone Strike Hit An American Wedding?

* Jon Langford's "Drone Operator" Debuts Again.

* Confirmed: American Bombs Killing Civilians In Yemen.

* Exclusive: Obama's Afghan Drone War.

* Obama's Dishonest Drone Legacy: A Cavalcade Of Absurd Lies About Civilian Deaths.

* Obama's Favorite Weapon.

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on August 8, 2016


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