User:Am90UOW/White House admits killing 4 US citizens in drone strikes

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{{tasks|mos|re-review}}Thursday, May 23, 2013

Predator Drone 021
Image: NOAA.

The United States government yesterday admitted to killing four of its citizens in drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan since 2009. In a letter to Congress, Attorney General Eric Holder acknowledged for the first time that a Muslim cleric associated with Al-Qaeda, Anwar al-Awlaki was targeted and killed in a covert drone operation in Pakistan in 2011. Holder confirmed that al-Awlaki's son, Abdul Rahman, in addition to Samir Khan and Jude Mohammed had also been killed in drone strikes, although he said they were "not specifically targeted by the United States." Holder stated that the killing of al-Awlaki was "lawful, it was considered, and it was just."

These admissions come before President Obama's speech on counterterrorism strategy planned for Thursday. In his speech Obama is expected to outline a change in strategy for drone missions that will restrict the use of drones outside of war zones. This would mean restriction of their use in places such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, where drones are currently deployed. Holder stated in his letter to Congress that this new policy would mean drones could only use lethal force against targets which posed “a continuing, imminent threat to Americans.”

A plan to hand over responsibility from the CIA to the Pentagon for part of the drone program could also be announced in Thursday's speech, according to Reuters. A US official told Reuters that the government plans to eventually give the military control of the drone operations in Pakistan, which are currently run by the CIA.

This could mean greater accountability and congressional oversight of the drone program, as Obama has pledged a higher degree of transparency on counter-terrorism operations.




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