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

Photogallery Ukraine: Russian Forces Tightening Grip on East

And new United Nations report documents human rights abuses committed by both sides in conflict More

Locust Swarms Fill Antananarivo Skies

FAO-led control efforts halted plague More

South Africa’s Plan to Move Rhinos May Not Stop Poaching

Experts say international coordination needed to follow the money trail and bring down rhino horn kingpins 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.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid