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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened 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.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid