News / USA

Transparency, Oversight of US Drone Program Debated

US droneUS drone
x
US drone
US drone
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid