News / USA

Transparency, Oversight of US Drone Program Debated

US droneUS drone
x
US drone
US drone
Pamela Dockins
— President Barack Obama's use of unmanned drone attack planes as part of a wider U.S. counterterrorism strategy is facing growing scrutiny. Some critics say the program increasingly lacks oversight and transparency. Analysts have mixed views on whether the program has evolved from its intended mission.

Republican Senator Rand Paul has stepped up his criticism of Obama's use of drones after using the issue to temporarily hold up John Brennan's confirmation as head of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Paul told the Conservative Political Action Conference on Wednesday that his chief concern is the limit of presidential powers.

"The filibuster was about drones, but also about much more. Do we have a Bill of Rights? Do we have a constitution and will we defend it?" asked Paul.

On VOA's Encounter program, analysts debated whether the Obama administration has allowed the drone program to move beyond its original mission. The Atlantic Council's Danya Greenfield said the original counterterrorism goals were very specific.

"When the drone program was initiated, there was a fairly stringent criteria that had to be met - essentially that the person targeted had to be planning or involved with imminent attacks, that they had to be un-apprehendable, and consistent with the rules of war," said Greenfield.

Greenfield said that has changed.

"Now what we are seeing is an expansion into what’s been called signature strikes. So, instead of targeting an individual based on a specific set of intelligence and their identity, they are being targeted based on suspicious behavior or a series of actions that might be suspicious, and where the identity of that individual is not necessarily known.  And, I think this leaves a lot of room for mistakes in terms of intelligence and targeting," said Greenfield.

Thomas Lynch of the National Defense University disagrees. In his view, the U.S. drone program needs to move forward.

"I think it is high time, and welcomed time, for the administration to evolve the program, to look at it moving forward," he said.

Lynch said the targeted strikes have been very effective in regions including the Horn of Africa, Somalia and Yemen. He said the exception is Pakistan.

"I have been one advocating suspending drone strikes in Pakistan because in that case, I thought the weight of animosity in the Pakistani populace of 180 million people was, after a certain number of al-Qaida operatives had been killed and eliminated by about 2011, that that weight was disproportionate to what we were getting out of it," he said.

The U.S. strategy is under scrutiny in Pakistan, where covert U.S. drone strikes have been reported in the tribal region along the Afghan border. A United Nations team investigating civilian casualties from the strikes says Pakistan considers the use of U.S. drones on its territory a violation of its sovereignty.

In a March 14 report, team lead Ben Emmerson also said Pakistan considers the drone campaign counterproductive and believes it can perpetuate terrorism in the region. The development indicates that debate over the costs and benefits of the program is likely to continue.

Obama has pledged to continue to engage Congress on counterterrorism efforts.

In his State of the Union speech in February, the president said he would do so to ensure that the "targeting, detention and prosecution of terrorists" remained consistent with U.S. laws and its system of checks and balances.

You May Like

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

Analysts say move by President Xi is an effort to win more party support, take step toward economic reforms, removing those who would stand in way of change More

South Africa Land Reforms Still Contentious 20 Years Later

Activists argue that the pace of land reform is slow and biased; legal experts question how some proposed reforms would be implemented More

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Beliefs reportedly prompt heavy surveillance, intimidation and travel restrictions More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid