Monday, September 17, 2012

Droning for Transparency

 Definition of the verb "drone""making noise continuously"
                 (as in repeatedly asking, requesting, pleading, demanding Transparency ....)

                         Antonyms: "be quiet, silence" (as in, government response to the above).

President Obama, upon taking office in 2009:  "I will also hold myself as president to a new standard of openness .... Let me say it as simply as I can: Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

So, how come:

The government refuses to formally acknowledge that the CIA even has a drone program, let alone discuss its thornier elements, like how many civilians have been killed, or how the CIA chooses targets.

Officials have given speeches on the legal rationale for targeted killing and the use of drones in broad terms. The administration has also acknowledged “military operations” outside the “hot” battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, but again, details have remained under wraps.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Times have both filed multiple Freedom of Information Act requests for documents relating to the CIA’s drones. The agency has responded by saying that it can “neither confirm nor deny the existence of records.”  [Source ]


Whether or not the CIA has authority to or does in fact conduct targeted lethal operations, however, remain classified and protected from disclosure....To the extent the ACLU Request seeks records specifically about the CIA's use of unmanned aerial vehicles, to confirm or deny the existence of responsive records would also reveal whether the CIA possessed a particular 'advanced technological platform.'

[From a motion filed by the Department of Justice  in response to lawsuits from the ACLU and the New York Times over FOIA requests seeking information about the killing of Al-Awlaki, June 20, 2012.]      [Source]

According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the Obama administration has launched 293 drone attacks in Pakistan alone, as compared to 52 strikes under the Bush administration. The bureau estimates that between 2,565 and 3,329 people have been killed, among whom 474 to 884 were civilians. However, distinguishing militants from civilians in the drone war is notoriously difficult, both because militants have an incentive to exaggerate the civilian death count and because, according to The New York Times' sources, the administration "in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants ... unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent."  [Source]

 The drone strikes continue.

So do the questions.