Predator Drones and the ACLU

obeygiant

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NEW YORK – 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.
aclu.com

The ACLU has decided that it’s their business to approve our tactics against terrorists and have insinuated themselves into US war policy by filing a Freedom of Information Act request in regards to the US drone program. I don't think the US military would appreciate the ACLU dictating policy to them.
 

leekohler

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Dec 22, 2004
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This is the USA, not China. We have every right to know what our government does, and whether or not it complies with international law. We pay for this stuff. We have absolutely every right to know about it.
 

Shivetya

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Jan 16, 2008
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This is the USA, not China. We have every right to know what our government does, and whether or not it complies with international law. We pay for this stuff. We have absolutely every right to know about it.
Not everyone has the right to know everything, this has always been the case and is the case here.

ACLU is grandstanding.
 

abijnk

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This is the USA, not China. We have every right to know what our government does, and whether or not it complies with international law. We pay for this stuff. We have absolutely every right to know about it.
Sorry, Lee, but I think you are wrong. And I say this as someone who works in the defense industry. It's not okay for everyone to know everything like this.
 

iShater

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When you take out wedding parties instead of terrorists, you need to take a step back and make sure you are doing things right.
 

No1451

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Oct 20, 2008
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Transparency is good but not when it endangers the feasibility of protecting your nation. The gov has to(obviously) follow international law but as to freedom of information there are just some things that should not, in my opinion, go past certain ears/eyes
 

iShater

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Transparency is good but not when it endangers the feasibility of protecting your nation. The gov has to(obviously) follow international law but as to freedom of information there are just some things that should not, in my opinion, go past certain ears/eyes
I am sure they have mastered the art of blacking out confidential stuff.
 

iShater

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Just because it's redacted doesn't mean it can't be potentially harmful.
Not as harmful as lobbing missiles in middle of civilian areas. But then again, that is the question, is this being done "lawfully" or or is it out of sight, out of mind?

Definitely. But I doubt the ACLU is going to be able to fix that. :rolleyes:
But it seems that unless a request like this comes that brings things to light, nobody really cares HOW we do things.
 

obeygiant

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wiki said:
2010
January 1, 2010: Missile strike on a vehicle near Ghundikala village in North Waziristan kills 3.[101]
January 3, 2010: 5 militants including 3 Arabs killed in an attack on Mosakki village in North Waziristan.[102]
January 6, 2010: 2 separate missile strikes one hour apart kill approximately 20-25 people in Sanzalai village, North Waziristan.[103]
January 8, 2010: Missile strike in Tappi village in North Waziristan killed 5 people. All the militants killed were local and were attached to Taliban Commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur.[104]
January 9, 2010: 4 killed and three injured when 2 missiles are fired on a compound in village Ismail Khan in North Waziristan, territory of the Haqqani network.[105] Mahmoud Mahdi Zeidan, bodyguard for al Qaeda leader Sayeed al-Masri, was reported killed in either the January 8 or 9 airstrike.[106] Jamal Saeed Abdul Rahim who was allegedly involved in hijacking of Pan Am Flight 73 in 1986 was also reported killed in this strike.[107]
January 13, 2010: Missile strike in Pasalkot village in a compound formerly used as a religious school in North Waziristan killed 15 people among them 3 militant commanders. [108]
January 15, 2010: Missile strike in Zannini village near Mir Ali in North Waziristan kills at least 5 militants.[109]
January 15, 2010: Second missile strike of the day kills 6 in Bichi village in North Waziristan.[109]
January 17, 2010: Missile strike in Shaktoi area of South Waziristan kills at least 20 people.[110]
January 19, 2010: Two missiles fired at a compound and vehicle in Booya village of Datakhel sub-division, 35 km west of Miranshah, in North Waziristan kills at least 6 militants.
Its not that we don't know what they're doing, we do, but I think the ACLU may be trying to limit the scope of the battlefield to perhaps make some of these strikes illegal. There is no question, however, that the strikes work in keeping the enemy in fear and off-guard.
 

Ugg

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Apr 7, 2003
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When you take out wedding parties instead of terrorists, you need to take a step back and make sure you are doing things right.
Exactly. If the military is unable to hit the broad side of the barn without taking out the farmhouse too, then they need to rethink what they're doing. So far their record is not good.
 

StruckANerve

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Dec 31, 2008
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I think the ACLU should focus on local civil rights issues rather than trying to muddy up the Military's operations with red tape ********. It is the AMERICAN Civil Liberties Union, after all. Leave the International issues up to the UN.
 

iShater

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Its not that we don't know what they're doing, we do, but I think the ACLU may be trying to limit the scope of the battlefield to perhaps make some of these strikes illegal. There is no question, however, that the strikes work in keeping the enemy in fear and off-guard.
Yes, terrorising the enemy. A familiar strategy that they use with their "manned" drones.

If 10 civilians are taken out in the process of taking out one guy, we are no better than them. We just keep saying that we are.
 

abijnk

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But it seems that unless a request like this comes that brings things to light, nobody really cares HOW we do things.
I disagree. How could you possibly reveal this information to the American public without also revealing it to the rest of the world? You can't. This isn't the right way to do it.
 

Eraserhead

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Sorry, Lee, but I think you are wrong. And I say this as someone who works in the defense industry. It's not okay for everyone to know everything like this.
They aren't asking for individual mission information, just the general legality. And to be honest its probably worth getting as if they are fully legal they are less likely to upset the average (educated) Pakistani or whoever.
 

leekohler

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Dec 22, 2004
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Sorry, Lee, but I think you are wrong. And I say this as someone who works in the defense industry. It's not okay for everyone to know everything like this.
They aren't asking for individual mission information, just the general legality. And to be honest its probably worth getting as if they are fully legal they are less likely to upset the average (educated) Pakistani or whoever.
Exactly- no one is asking for mission details, just the legality of our actions. If we can't get that question answered, then what in the world can we ask?
 

mactastic

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aclu.com

The ACLU has decided that it’s their business to approve our tactics against terrorists and have insinuated themselves into US war policy by filing a Freedom of Information Act request in regards to the US drone program. I don't think the US military would appreciate the ACLU dictating policy to them.
Perhaps you would be good enough to link to a source showing that the US is at war with Pakistan? That we have some legal basis for military incursions there?
 

hulugu

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Sorry, Lee, but I think you are wrong. And I say this as someone who works in the defense industry. It's not okay for everyone to know everything like this.
From the article:

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 ACLU isn't asking for FOIA on specific missions or targets (or even capability), but rather for the legal argument for US missions inside Pakistan and Afghanistan.

link

Its not that we don't know what they're doing, we do, but I think the ACLU may be trying to limit the scope of the battlefield to perhaps make some of these strikes illegal. There is no question, however, that the strikes work in keeping the enemy in fear and off-guard.
While I tend to think you're right that the ACLU may be trying to limit the scope of the battlefield, I'm not sure the government can refuse such a request. The FOIA appears to ask how the government's lawyers have formed an opinion that these strikes are legal under US and International Law.

This will certainly lead to a court case, but the FOIA has been made in good faith.

As for Predator/Reaper strikes, I think they're invaluable in the fight, but at best, those missions are playing fast and loose with international law.
 

obeygiant

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Perhaps you would be good enough to link to a source showing that the US is at war with Pakistan? That we have some legal basis for military incursions there?
No one said we are at war with Pakistan however there is mounting evidence that the Pakistani Government is in collusion with the US Government in regards to the location of militants and who should be taken out.

"The government of Pakistan pretended that this was the U.S. doing something unilaterally, when a fair amount of evidence is now available that many of the strikes were taking place with Pakistani assistance," he says.

The assistance includes providing the Americans with targeting information. The drone strikes, according to one estimate, have killed about 1,000 people since 2006. As many as a third of them were civilians.

Former CIA analyst Paul Pillar says that's a political problem for Pakistan's government.

"Casualties inflicted on innocent people put us in a bad light and make it difficult for Pakistan to defend its relationship and cooperation with the United States," he says.

Differing Priorities

Besides the civilian death toll, there's another problem: The United States and Pakistan differ over which Islamist fighters to target inside those safe havens.

Pakistan is content to help the Americans target al-Qaida and Pakistan Taliban leaders seen as a threat to the Pakistani government.

But Pakistan is less willing to help the United States go after Afghan Taliban fighters. Nawaz says these insurgents — the Haqqani network, for example — are seen by Pakistan in a more positive way. "As a potential ally or at least not a group that would be opposed to Pakistan," he says.

Pakistani officials expect elements of the Haqqani network to be part of the Afghan government in the future. And they need allies to ward off any growing influence of India, say Nawaz and other analysts. India is providing assistance to the Kabul government and making inroads within Afghanistan, which is especially troublesome to its archenemy, Pakistan.
NPR
 

mactastic

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No one said we are at war with Pakistan.
The ACLU has decided that it’s their business to approve our tactics against terrorists and have insinuated themselves into US war policy by filing a Freedom of Information Act request in regards to the US drone program. I don't think the US military would appreciate the ACLU dictating policy to them.
If we're not at war, then how can it be war policy?

If we're not at war with Pakistan, then surely we have some other legal justification for the use of our military there that you could point to?

(and insinuated themselves into? Really?)
 

obeygiant

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If we're not at war, then how can it be war policy?
The US isn't at war? I guess you missed Obama's speech at West Point.

Some highlights:
..Over the last several years, the Taliban has maintained common cause with al Qaeda, as they both seek an overthrow of the Afghan government. Gradually, the Taliban has begun to take control over swaths of Afghanistan, while engaging in increasingly brazen and devastating acts of terrorism against the Pakistani people.
..After consultations with our allies, I then announced a strategy recognizing the fundamental connection between our war effort in Afghanistan, and the extremist safe-havens in Pakistan. I set a goal that was narrowly defined as disrupting, dismantling, and defeating al Qaeda and its extremist allies, and pledged to better coordinate our military and civilian effort.
 

mactastic

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The US isn't at war? I guess you missed Obama's speech at West Point.

Some highlights:
So because Obama says it, that makes it true? Can't wait to talk health care or economic policy with you then! :p:rolleyes:

You notice I asked for a legal justification. I assume that this was the best you could come up with in response?

You get the Epic Fail Award for the day today. So far anyway. You've got some stiff competition around here though. :p