MADRE Statements

Letter to Administration Pressing for Transparency on Drone Strikes

Posted on: Thursday, May 31, 2012

Keywords: US Foreign Policy

MADRE has joined a group of organizations, including Campaign For Innocent Victims In Conflict, Amnesty International, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Peace Action, Peace Action West and Just Foreign Policy in signing on to the below letter to President Obama demanding transparency in drone strikes and adherence to international law.

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

As leading organizations working to protect civilians caught in conflict, we write in support of the request by members of Congress for greater transparency regarding remotely piloted aircraft (RPA or drone) operations and, specifically, “signature” strikes.

We echo Congressional requests that information be released to Congress regarding US drone use including: targeting criteria for “signature” strikes; mechanisms used by the CIA and JSOC to ensure that such targeting is within the confines of international law, including which laws are being applied to these cases and definitions of a civilian; the procedure in place for investigations when civilians are known to have suffered losses of life, limb or property as a result of strikes; and mechanisms in place to track, analyze and publicly recognize civilian casualties.

As members of Congress noted, the negative ramifications of covert drone use by the United States are of great concern. Strikes outside accepted theaters of armed conflict are often the only contact those communities may have with the United States, and are generating fierce anti-American sentiment. This is particularly true if such strikes cause civilian harm and no explanation or recognition of such losses is offered, as is consistently the case. Americans and their elected leaders have a right to know what and how drone actions are being taken in their name, and if drone strikes are consistent with or violate applicable international law.

We believe the use of drones should be subject to the same level of transparency and legal constraints as any other weapon. Therefore, we resoundingly voice our support for the recent request by members of Congress that targeting criteria for “signature” strikes, the mechanisms used to ensure that such strikes are legal, and that follow-up and tracking mechanisms be made available. If the US is to continue as a leader on the international stage, it must take responsibility for its actions abroad and explain them at home.

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