Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) released the following statement criticizing the lack of oversight in the United States’ combat drones program. Kucinich also announced plans to hold a Congressional briefing on the drone program on November 16, 2012.
“The Washington Post recently published a three part series on the plans of the Obama Administration to institutionalize the practice of targeted killing by unmanned drones abroad. According to previous and current Administration officials who were interviewed, the institutionalization and expansion of the drone program means that we have only reached ‘the midpoint of what was once known as the global war on terrorism.’ This means that the targeted killing of suspects by the United States is becoming a permanent feature of our counterterrorism strategy.
“Yet the program has thus far been conducted with virtually no oversight from Congress or any other judicial body and absolutely no due process. Congress has even been denied the right to be informed of and view the legal memos which the Administration uses as its basis to justify these killings. Despite increasing calls for transparency and the legal justification from both Members of Congress and a broad range of advocacy organizations, targeted killing is ‘so routine that the Obama Administration has spent much of the past year codifying and streamlining the processes that sustain much of it.’
“The battlefield has been stretched to include nearly anywhere in the world, making it easier to justify the flouting of international law and the laws of war. But the United States is not at war with Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan. Such killings are only lawful under a very narrow set of circumstances. We cannot claim to be meeting those narrow circumstances when the number of people killed by such strikes, including innocent civilians, is estimated to exceed 3,000. This number alone demonstrates that the Administration’s claims that such strikes occur only under ‘imminent threat’ is patently false.
“The expansion of the use of surveillance drones here in the United States also raises significant concerns about the safeguarding of privacy and what information may be collected without prior authorization. Any government or local law enforcement agency deploying such drones must ensure that the 4th amendment rights and the right to privacy of U.S. citizens are not being violated by the use of this technology.
“Congress cannot stand idly by as these actions are being taken in the name of the American people. That is why I am hosting a briefing on Friday, November 16, 2012 to discuss the implications of our drones policy here at home, and abroad.”