April 23 Hearing on Drone Strikes: Four Questions and a Subpoena
On April 23, the Constitution subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the ethics, legality, constitutionality, and political costs of the drone strike policy. This will be the first time in the history of the drone strike policy that there has been a public Congressional hearing like this focused on the policy.
If you live in Illinois, Minnesota, Delaware, Connecticut, Hawaii, Texas, South Carolina, or Utah, you have a Senator who serves on the subcommittee.  That means you're in a position to influence what takes place during next week's hearing.
Urge your Senator to publicly call for a Congressional subpoena of the Office of Legal Counsel memos during the hearing and ask pointed questions about key issues that the Administration has tried to obscure.
Senate committees are supposed to oversee Administration agencies, including the CIA and the Justice Department. But they can't do effective oversight if the Administration won't disclose key documents such as the Office of Legal Council memos that detail elements of the drone strike policy that the Administration has refused to share with Congress. Senator Leahy, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has threatened that his committee will issue a subpoena of the drone strike memos if the Administration doesn't hand them over. But the Administration hasn't complied.
In addition, key questions about the drone strike policy have been obscured by the Administration's secrecy, including:
- How many civilians have been killed, and why is government information about this classified?
- Is the CIA low-balling civilian deaths by automatically classifying "military age males" as "militants" when they are killed by US drone strikes, as the New York Times reported in May?
- Is the US conducting "secondary strikes," in which a target is hit a second time after others, including civilian rescuers, have gathered at the scene? Is this a war crime, as a UN official has stated?
- What percentage of those killed have been "suspected terrorist leaders"? What does this mean for claims that the program is narrowly targeted on "suspected terrorist leaders"?
Urge your Senator to ask these questions and call for a subpoena of the drone memos during next week's Constitution subcommittee hearing.
The hearing will occur at 4 PM Eastern Tuesday, April 23, and will be streaming on the Senate Judiciary Committee website. If you have the time, watch the hearing and listen for these questions here:
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1. The members of the Constitution subcommittee are listed here: http://www.judiciary.senate.gov/about/subcommittees/constitution.cfm