Congressmen ask Obama about legal justification of drone strikes

Congressmen ask Obama about legal justification of drone strikes

New York City : NY : USA | Jun 01, 2012 at 2:27 PM PDT
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Kucinich Builds Support for Congressional Demand for Legal Justification of Drone Strikes

The drone strikes campaign of President Barack Obama has invited sharp criticism not only from Congressmen, but also from human rights activists. President Obama has signed the drone strikes campaign for Pakistan and Yemen to kill suspected militants and terrorists linked to al-Qaeda and other terrorist outfits. The Obama administration believes the signature strikes have been successful in eliminating high-profile terrorists and therefore the campaign should continue to achieve the desired targets. However, a number of Congressmen and human rights organizations have expressed their serious concerns over the strategy to weed out terrorists.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich, along with ten other members of the US House, has asked the president to provide legal justification for the drone strikes besides the targeting criteria. For the last couple of months, voices have been raised on different forums, saying the US may be killing innocent civilians as well in the drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen. The congressman raised the question that why the Obama administration is carrying out the drone strikes in the name of national security but not willing to share the needed information with the people.

Mr. Dennis opined that the signature strikes were hurting social and moral values of the United States, besides relations with countries like Pakistan. The United States has been using drone strikes in the tribal region of Pakistan since 2004, allegedly under a covert deal with Pakistani rulers. The statistics available on Wikipedia show that a total of 327 signature strikes have been made so far in the tribal region of Pakistan and more than 3,000 people have been killed in these strikes. The data further elaborates that around 830 civilians have been killed in the strikes, including 175 children. Also, more than one thousand have been reported injured in the drone attacks.

The drone strike campaign was further intensified after Obama assumed the office. According to the data available, around 52 drone strikes were made during the Bush era, while 275 strikes are reported under the Obama administration. The increasing number of the drone strikes has not only frustrated Pakistani people, but also the US citizens. Pakistan has repeatedly termed the drone strikes as counterproductive, illegal and unwarranted. However, Wikileaks has exposed Pakistani rulers saying the strikes are made with tacit support of them.

These strikes are controlled and operated by Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and other relevant departments. The CIA claims the attacks are carried out against high-profile targets and that too after getting actionable intelligence information from the informants based in the region. Recently, Pakistan’s Parliamentary Committee on National Security recommended afresh rules of engagement with the United States and a complete end to the drone strikes. Pakistan believes the drone strikes breach its sovereignty and kill civilians while ratio of terrorists being killed in the attacks is almost negligible.

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Supporters of Pakistan's fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami party during a protest against US drone strikes
Supporters of Pakistan's fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami party during a protest against US drone strikes
StephenManual is based in New York City, New York, United States of America, and is a Reporter on Allvoices.
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