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WikiLeaks and the Drone Strike Transparency Bill

By       Message Robert Naiman     Permalink
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The Senate Intelligence Committee recently took an important step by passing an intelligence authorization which would require for the first time -- if it became law -- that the Administration publicly report on civilian casualties from U.S. drone strikes.

Sarah Knuckey, Director of the Project on Extrajudicial Executions at New York University School of Law and a Special Adviser to the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, calls this provision "an important step toward improving transparency," and notes that "Various U.N. officials, foreign governments, a broad range of civil society, and many others, including former U.S. Department of State Legal Advisor Harold Koh ... have called for the publication of such basic information."

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This provision could be offered as an amendment in the Senate to the National Defense Authorization Act. It could be offered in the House as an amendment on the intelligence authorization, or as a freestanding bill. But it's not likely to become law unless there's some public agitation for it (you can participate in the public agitation here.)

Forcing the Administration to publish information is crucial, because in the court of poorly informed public opinion, the Administration has gotten away with two key claims that the record of independent reporting strongly indicates are   not true: 1) U.S. drone strikes are "narrowly targeted" on "top level terrorist leaders," and 2) civilian casualties have been "extremely rare."

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