26 Reps: Ensure Transparency and Accountability In The U.S. Combat Drone Program

Twenty-six Members of Congress sent the following letter to President Obama asking that Congress be provided with information on the CIA and JSOCs use of "signature" drone strikes. Signers were: Dennis Kucinich, John Conyers, Rush Holt, Jesse Jackson, Jr., Maurice Hinchey, Charlie Rangel, Pete Stark, Mike Honda, Raul Grijalva, Bob Filner, Barbara Lee, Jim McGovern, Lynn Woolsey, Hank Johnson, Luis Gutierrez, Ron Paul, John Lewis, George Miller, Jim McDermott, Yvette Clarke, Peter DeFazio, Peter Welch, Donna Edwards, Jerrold Nadler, Keith Ellison, Walter Jones.

The text of the Dear Colleague sent by Rep. Kucinich on May 10 follows below, then the text of the final letter as it was sent to President Obama on June 12.

The PDF of the letter as it was sent to President Obama on June 12 is here.

ENSURE TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY IN THE U.S. COMBAT DRONE PROGRAM

From: The Honorable Dennis J. Kucinich
Date: 5/10/2012

Dear Colleague:

A recent article published in The Washington Post revealed that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) have been given new authority that allows them “to fire on targets based solely on their intelligence ‘signatures’ – patterns of behavior that are detected through signals intercepts, human sources and aerial surveillance, and that indicated a presence of an important operative or plot against U.S. interests.” Allowing the CIA and JSOC to conduct drone strikes without having to know the identity of the person they’re targeting is in stark contrast to what the Administration has previously claimed regarding its drone campaign: that they are targeted strikes against suspected terrorists on lists maintained by the CIA and JSOC.

The implications of our use of drones for our national security are profound. They can generate powerful and enduring anti-American sentiment. Such “signature” strikes raise the risk of innocent civilians or individuals who have no relationship to attacks on the U.S. of being killed.

The government has the right and the obligation to protect the citizens of this country. Yet Congress must be given the opportunity to weigh in and demand that there be a minimum of transparency and accountability for our U.S. drone program abroad.

Please join us in sending a letter to the President asking that Congress be provided with information on the CIA and JSOCs use of “signature” strikes.

Sincerely,

/s/ /s/

Dennis J. Kucinich John Conyers, Jr.

Member of Congress Member of Congress

June 12, 2012

The Honorable Barack Obama

President of the United States

The White House

Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

During a recent speech, top White House counterterrorism advisor John Brennan stated that the United States only authorizes "a particular operation against a specific individual if we have a high degree of confidence that the individual being targeted is indeed the terrorist we are pursuing." Yet according to The Washington Post, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) has been given new authority that allows them "to fire on
targets based solely on their intelligence 'signatures' - patterns of behavior that are detected through signals intercepts, human sources and aerial surveillance, and that indicated presence of an important operative or plot against U.S. interests." This new authority is in stark contrast to what your Administration has previously claimed regarding its drone campaign: that they are targeted strikes against suspected terrorists on lists maintained by the CIA and JSOC.

We are concerned that the use of such "signature" strikes could raise the risk of killing innocent civilians or individuals who may have no relationship to attacks on the United States. Our drone campaigns already have virtually no transparency, accountability or oversight. We are further concerned about the legal grounds for such strikes under the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force.

The implications of the use of drones for our national security are profound. They are faceless ambassadors that cause civilian deaths, and are frequently the only direct contact with Americans that the targeted communities have. They can generate powerful and enduring anti-American sentiment.

As members of Congress, we are deeply concerned about the full impact of drone strikes. Please explain the process by which "signature" strikes are authorized and executed; mechanisms used by the CIA and JSOC to ensure that such killings are legal; the nature of the follow-up that is conducted when civilians are killed or injured; and the mechanisms that ensure civilian casualty numbers are collected, tracked and analyzed.

We look forward to your rapid response.

Sincerely,

Dennis Kucinich, John Conyers, Rush Holt, Jesse Jackson, Jr., Maurice Hinchey, Charlie Rangel, Pete Stark, Mike Honda, Raul Grijalva, Bob Filner, Barbara Lee, Jim McGovern, Lynn Woolsey, Hank Johnson, Luis Gutierrez, Ron Paul, John Lewis, George Miller, Jim McDermott, Yvette Clarke, Peter DeFazio, Peter Welch, Donna Edwards, Jerrold Nadler, Keith Ellison, Walter Jones.

[1]Bennet, Brian and David S. Cloud. (2012, April 30). Obama’s counter-terrorism advisor defense drone strikes. The Los Angeles Times, Online. Accessible: http://articles.latimes.com/2012/apr/30/world/la-fg-brennan-drones-20120501.

[2]Miller, Greg. (2012, April 25). White House approves broader Yemen Drone Campaign. The Washington Post, Online. Accessible: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/federal_government/yemeni-officia....

[3](2012, January 31). Obama defends U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan. BBC News, Online. Accessible: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-16804247.

Thank you Just Foreign Policy for letting us know about this important petition.

Sincerely,
Rhone Fraser

ISN'T THERE ENOUGH HATE AGAINST THE UNITED STATES RIGHT NOW! THESE ACTIONS WILL FURTHER INSURE THAT THE HATRED FOR THIS COUNTRY WILL INCREASE EXPONENTIALLY!

The drone strikes create more enemies than terrorists eliminated. All those families have some surviving relatives and friends.

Mr . Kucinich is a beacon or truth in a sea of lies.

Firing a rocket into another country against their will is an act of war. If someone is killed then that is murder. Firing a rocket knowing that innocent people may be killed is also premeditated murder. This is not complicated. There is no gray area here.

The waste of men and materiel is astounding. Stop it!

Drone strikes are not in our best interest and do not represent our values as a nation.

Clarification of the requested information is in our best interest-thank you.

Killing by Remote Control is inhuman, uncalled for, and illegal. This is cowardly too. This does nt make our country any safer either.

--Truth Hurts, Lies Kill --by Dahlia Wasfi
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7VeWRrhEsk&feature=relmfu

Hopefuly this will result in some accountability but I'm not holding my breath.

let us know what are you doing under our name we have hired you so we can fire you as well let us know.

Please do not use drones in the fashion described above!

You have been the President of Transparency Promotion, this is no time to stop and especially in this particular area ...Transparency is called for...

.

let's behave like a civilized country!

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I just heard Obama say how dear is the Golden Rule to him. When the Predator becomes the finest sort of Gold, then we know what the Rule of the game is.

no drones anywhere!

Drone warfare is terrorism. Please stop random strikes.

Last year two separate studies by the Brookings Institute and The London Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that 90 to 95% of casualties in U.S. drone strikes are civilian.
Signature strikes along with attacking the first responders to a strike are a few of the reasons the civilian death toll is so high. Another reason is the U.S. military has struggled to gain any traction in the Afghan war so the frustrated Obama administration has expanded what they feel is a successful drone campaign.

Drone strikes are terrorist by their very nature;indiscriminate.

Drone strikes are terrorist by their very nature;indiscriminate.

We elected you for change. Instead you are a warmonger worse than the lies of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld. End the drones strikes. End the war on whistleblowers. Start upholding the constitution and the rule of law.

In my opinion The Patriot Act, National Defense Authorization Act and the CIA justifying "signature drone strikes" are examples of creeping fascism or totalitarianism or whatever similar undemocratic label you want to apply.

The continual use of combat drones will do more harm than good. Each missed strike causing injury and death to civilians makes more enemies focused on revenge. Using combat drones, I feel, is a crime against humanity.

The continual use of combat drones is doing us more harm than good. Each missed strike causing injury and death to civilians is creating further enemies seeking revenge. I, also feel, combat drones constitutes 'crimes against humanity.'

Ensure accountability with drone strikes.

Drones, this like everything that is a "WAR ON SOMETHING"- a mentality of 13 year old boys - and the most manipulative BRAINS, leading the pack are more often than not chicken hawkes. They do not spill their blood or their childrens blood. It is needlessly aggressive, counterproductive brought to you by the country that "GOD SHINES ON".

While stirrings around the globe, mostly the young, seek some new way to live, a coming about,
tired of the lies, fraud and carnage of the last 10 years, or lets say the last 2 large wars, so, 40 years, OUR military machine keeps on a crankin'. Now everything is MEGA perverse -
the sums of cash involved in war toys and crowd control, and prisions - like DRONES are the opiate of the 13 year old. Thanks for fighting the brain dead.

I'm opposed to the use of drone for assassination and surveillance.

I urge you to support Dennis J. Kucinich and John Conyers, Jr. in this matter.

Drone warfare is an affront to all people - we must stop this terrible killing, if not for humanitarian reasons, then for the realization that this same technology will be used on us!

Stop sending drones on civilians etc....

This is an issue that demands Congressional action by simple reason of your oaths of office!

I urge that Congress investigate so called "signature strikes".

Please provide the targeting criteria for “signature” strikes; mechanisms used by the CIA and JSOC to ensure that such killings are legal; the nature of the follow-up that is conducted when civilians are killed or injured; and the mechanisms that ensure civilian casualty numbers are collected, tracked and analyzed.

All these billions spent on ways to kill people, all the while our schools have no libraries, no computer labs, no art, no music and classes that are huge. We need to stop concentrating on destruction and begin investing in our future.

END THIS WAR NOW BY COMING HOME !

Please curtail the use of drones to know and proven targets, not on guesses and speculation. We must learn to protect the rights and interests of all humanity, of all concerned; in this case, the rights of Afghanis as well as American interests. We are all in one world together.

Stand up for justice and the rule of law.
fraternally yours.
Michael A. Madden

Our government is now run by mass murderers.

hitlists and cloned drones and no end to killings.

Please curtail drone strike activity. Respect the rights and interests of ALL Humanity.

Sign on to this and take action.

While no one wants to see Americans killed, wounded, or caputured in combat, modern technolgoy shouldn't mean that "anything goes." The CIA, the Pentagon, and the President must be held accountabale to Congress, the Constitution, and the American people.

AW

I do not support "signature" drone strikes and do believe they cause high results of anti American sentiment in foreign countries.

Drones are inhumane. As an American I am against their use.

U.S. actions in the Middle East are not only horrifying, disgraceful and an outrage because of the thousands of innocent lives that have been a result of U.S. actions, these actions are also illegal and should be stopped. The U.S. commits crimes against humanity and does it with impunity. In case you are ignorant of international laws, to which we are a signatory, I urge you to take the time to familiarize yourself with international laws and stand up for the rule of law. Also, Congress must take back its Constitutional role as outlined by our Founders rergarding curtailing unitary power by the Executive branch. The Executive branch must not attack, ove3rthrow, and occupy sovereign countrires -- period. Under international law, to which the U.S. is a signatory, our actions are illegal, brutal, bloody, and destroying the lives of millions of innocent people. U.S. illegal and brutal actions must be stopped. These actions create more threats against the U.S. citizenry and make us less sage, not more, and are an outrage.

The U.S. is in violation of international laws to which it is a signatory, illegally bombing sovereign nations, overthrowing governments (whether we like them or not -- it is iillegal), iand occupying countries, and in the process responsible for the killing of hundreds of thousands of innocent people -- all with impunity from international laws. These are crimes against humanity and must be stopped. It is an outrage that the U.S. boasts about freedom, liberty and justice while it brings death and destruction to millions of people around the world -- for oil, gas, and geopolitics. Shameful and disgusting nation, the U.S.

Congress needs to curb this program as soon as possible. The Drone program seems to have the potential for "blow back on an potential that can not be ignored. Every time we inadvertently kiill peoples who are not terrorist with a drone attack increases the need for the relatives of these peoples to exact revenge on our troops nearby and our home land in the future.

We must end the use of this Signature Drone Attacks. For every innocent person we kill in these attacks, there is the potential for Blow Back. The families and the relatives of the innocent will want to exact revenge, first on our combat troops in the immediate area and secondly it gives reason for those seeking revenge to harm us at our home front.

Please stop these drone attacks which are killing innocent people in remote areas who were never a threat to the US.

Are you following the US Constitution or aren't you???

Drone strikes should be illegal, They are killing the innocent, without regard. It is unconscious-able.

These drone strikes are nothing more than terrorism.

These drone strikes are nothing more than terrorism.

DO JUSTICE AND ACT WITH INTEGRITY.

The assumption that "military age males" are to be automatically considered "combatants" does not hold up under scrutiny. Nor does citing statistics that show that more civilians are killed by Al Qaeda than by drone strikes provide any comfort to survivors of those strikes.

It is against US and international law to kill anyone just because you suspect he is a terrorist or might become one. Every human being deserves a trial, to hear and answer his/her accusers in a court of law, not have his/her death decided around a table on which the President or anyone else looks at a list of names and checks off those suspects.

This is a perfect recipe, as many have pointed out, for creating hatred and potential terrorists who may try to harm citizens of the US. This is NOT making me safe! Or you, for that matter.

And John O. Brennan, with a long history in the CIA (he loves waterboarding!), is now Obama's National Security Adviser and special "assistant." I fear that Obama now has an immoral "minder". Vey scary for the state of our union. Lee Loe, Grandmother for Peace, Houston, TX

As an American Citizen I implore you, who represent we the people, in our United States Govenment, to stop this insidious Drones Strikes Policy. This program will someday come back to haunt our country.

Thank You,
Charles Fox

please don't lose your re-election over this senseless drone targeting the guilty or not guilty victims of "questionable " knowledge - consider the morality . It seems you have lost your way- it is still true "VIOLENCE BEGETS VIOLENCE"- I HAVE READ THE WHOLE ARTICLE IN THE N.Y.TIMES , AND SOMEONE IS SELLING YOU A BILL OF GOODS THAT WILLL HARM YOU AND OUR COUNTRY IN THE FUTURE.

LOUISE LYNCH

A CowardlY and inhuman act, killing the innocent children, women and men of sovereign nations...! It is unconsciousable indeed!!!

This is barbaric & horrific...!

It is an undeclared war against innocent civilians.

When is the President going to live up to his campaign promises?
Next time around??? ....hmmmm

Drone strikes are TERRORISM by the USA!

There is an urgent need for honesty... Transparentcey! 8

It's A Start

Please support this petition to end US "signature" drone strikes and rein in the chilling power of armed drone technology in modern warfare. These killing machines will lead to nothing but more bloodshed, terror, and death.

This is exactly my sentiment. It's an accident waiting to happen. Drone use is only as good as the intelligence. And when the intelligence simply isn't there or when potential targets "hide" among innocents - what really is the purpose or value of their use?

It's blowback - big time - waiting to happen!

It's not about hate--it's about killing innocent people, and it needs action, otherwise it will just keep on happening.

Shiites and Sunnis have been fuming for a long lime but since overthrowing Saddam the US has been in the middle of it.

Meanwhile India and Pakistan has been fuming. The terrorists who blew up Indian hotels decided to blow up the hotel in Kabul where businessmen from India where staying and the US has been slowly deciding that those who hate India are the enemy of the US. The connection between the Haqqani network and al Qaeda is that the US now labels both terrorists. The US drifting into the delusion that it is the decider of what is good and what is evil in the world can only make this part of the world extremely miserable.

Ending all aid to Pakistan and ending the drone war must be done simultaneously not in conjugation of Rep. Rohrabacher's demand of a Hidu-Christian alliance pouring aid and US military friendship into India,
http://readersupportednews.org/pm-section/207-207/11831-tensions-with-pakistan-boil-as-the-peace-movement-yawns

In complete agreement with you. Wish there were many more like him in Congress....

We demand transparency and accountability in the unspeakable use of drone strrkes in countries where the US has not declared war. We call for an end to all drone strikes. The U.S. is killing civillians in Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Somaliia, Pakistan and Afghanistan and driving the citizens of thess countries into extremist anti-americanism all in attempt to extend the US Mobil-Exson empire. .

Mr. Obama we do not need a president who is personally involved with targeted assassinations so you can show that you look tough to the Republicans. We need you to stand up to Netanyahu and not baill him our if he decides to strike Iran. Let the people of Tel Aviv take their lumps with out US intervention if Iran retaliates against that war mongering Netanyahu. Why are we not calling for a nuclear free zone in the Middle East that would include Israel's nuclear arsenal? Even if you only last for one term your standing up to AIPAC wiill get you in the history books.

It's not about hate--it's about killing innocent people, and it needs action, otherwise it will just keep on happening. Purchase Lipitor

It's not about hate--it's about killing innocent people, and it needs action, otherwise it will just keep on happening. Purchase Lipitor

It's not about hate--it's about killing innocent people, and it needs action, otherwise it will just keep on happening.

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