The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights, chaired by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), held a hearing yesterday on “The Constitutional and Counterterrorism Implications of Targeted Killing.” It was the Senate’s first public hearing on drones. McClatchy News reported on the hearing that witnesses urged “the Obama administration to make public more information about its top-secret targeted killing program amid questions about the legality and effectiveness of hundreds of CIA drone strikes in Pakistan and elsewhere.”
One witness was from Yemen:
“Farea al Muslimi, a U.S.-educated activist from Yemen, testified that drone strikes have killed many civilians in his country, aiding al Qaida’s regional affiliate, al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, by appearing to affirm its propaganda that the United States is waging war against ordinary Yemenis. “The drones have simply made more mistakes than AQAP has ever done,” he said.”
Another witness, retired Marine Gen. James Cartwright, former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, had some practical proposals:
“Cartwright called on Obama to establish a government task force to evaluate secret drone strikes, including the extent of civilian casualties and their impacts on communities; the effectiveness of precautions used to avert such casualties; and the means by which the results of strikes are assessed. An unclassified version of the task force’s final report should be made public, he said.
“Cartwright said the CIA also should publicly acknowledge its role in drone operations outside Afghanistan, establish procedures for declassifying information on those operations after they’re over, and provide information to Congress on the impact of drone strikes on civilians.”