For Immediate Release
ACLU Requests Information On Predator Drone Program
Asks For Data On "Targeted Killings" Of Suspected Terrorists And Civilian Casualties
NEW YORK, NY - In
a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed today, the American
Civil Liberties Union asked the government to disclose the legal basis
for its use of predator drones to conduct "targeted killings" overseas.
In particular, the ACLU seeks to find out when, where and against whom
drone strikes can be authorized, and how the United States ensures
compliance with international laws relating to extrajudicial killings.
"The American public has a right to
know whether the drone program is consistent with international law,
and that all efforts are made to minimize the loss of innocent lives,"
said Jonathan Manes, a legal fellow with the ACLU National Security
Project. "The Obama administration has reportedly expanded the drone
program, but it has not explained publicly what the legal basis for the
program is, what limitations it recognizes on the use of drones outside
active theaters of war and what the civilian casualty toll has been
thus far. We're hopeful that the request we've filed today will
encourage the Obama administration to disclose information about the
basis, scope and implementation of the program."
The administration has used unmanned
drones to target and kill individuals not only in Afghanistan and Iraq
but also in Pakistan and Yemen. The technology allows U.S. personnel to
observe targeted individuals and launch missiles intended to kill them
from control centers located thousands of miles away.
Today's FOIA request was filed with
the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice (including the
Office of Legal Counsel), the Department of State and the CIA.
"The use of drones to conduct
targeted killings raises complicated questions – not just legal
questions but policy and moral questions as well," said Jameel Jaffer,
Director of the ACLU National Security Project. "These are not
questions that should be decided behind closed doors. They are
questions that should be debated openly, and the public should have
access to information that would allow it to participate meaningfully
in the debate."
The ACLU's request seeks, in
addition to information about the legal basis for the drone program,
data regarding the number of civilians and non-civilians killed in the
strikes. Estimates of civilian casualties from the government and human
rights organizations differ dramatically, from the dozens to the
hundreds, giving an incomplete and inconsistent picture of the human
cost of the program.
The text of the FOIA request can be found here: www.aclu.org/national-
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.