- Sign Up
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 16 January 2013 - 9:05pm
France has undertaken a major military campaign in Mali. U.S. officials are talking about the possibility of supporting the French military campaign with U.S. drone strikes.
Congress hasn't authorized US military intervention in Mali. In particular, Congress hasn't authorized U.S. drone strikes in Mali.
Urge your Representative and Senators to publicly insist that the Administration obtain explicit Congressional authorization before conducting drone strikes in Mali.
The Washington Post reports: 
[A senior U.S.] official said contingency plans for the use of armed drones were already in place and are being reevaluated.
Without explicit Congressional authorization, the only U.S. legal authority the Administration could claim for conducting drone strikes in Mali is the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force passed after the September 11 attacks. This is the legal authority the Administration has invoked for conducting drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. The invocation of the 2001 AUMF to justify drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia is already very controversial. The invocation of the 2001 AUMF to justify drone strikes in Mali should be even more controversial.
Indeed, on November 1, the Washington Post editorial board, which supports the drone strike policy overall, and believes that US drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen are legal overall, wrote: 
Submitted by Megan Iorio on 7 January 2013 - 5:22pm
President Obama has announced his new national security team: Chuck Hagel at Defense, John Kerry at State, John Brennan at the CIA. Each of these officials will have a say in whether U.S. drone strike policy will be further entrenched than it is today, or whether U.S. drone strike policy will become more transparent and accountable, and be brought into full compliance with U.S. and international law.
Each of these nominees must face a confirmation hearing in the Senate. When the President's nominees appear before the Senate, they should answer questions from Senators about current drone strike policy, and that should happen in open session, so the questions and answers can be reported in the media, and the public can exercise its right to know.
Sign our petition to the President and the Senate here:
In an editorial, the Washington Post called for the CIA's removal from the drone strike program.  Human Rights Watch has been calling for the CIA to be removed from the drone strike program for a year, noting that the CIA is less transparent than the U.S. military and less accountable to U.S. and international law, and that there is no program to compensate civilian victims of CIA paramilitary actions. 
The Post has also reported that the Administration has made moves to institutionalize the current program, suggesting the program could be at its midpoint—in other words, the program could go on for another ten years. 
Submitted by Megan Iorio on 9 November 2012 - 1:21pm
Yesterday, US media began reporting that Iranian fighter jets had shot at—but did not hit— an unarmed US drone off the coast of Iran last week. Pentagon Press Secretary George Little claimed that the unmanned military plane was over international waters 16 nautical miles off the coast of Iran, and that the drone had never been in Iranian airspace. In response, the US protested the shooting and warned Iran that it has "a wide range of options, from diplomatic to military," available to protect its assets. According to a CNN report, the incident has "raised fresh concerns within the Obama administration about Iranian military aggression in crucial Gulf oil shipping lanes."
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 2 November 2012 - 6:54pm
As you are well aware, there's been a disturbing lack of public debate so far about U.S. policy on drone strikes. Guess what? The Washington Post editorial board agrees. In a new editorial, they say: "the means and objectives of drone attacks — and the Obama administration’s steps toward institutionalizing the system — deserve much more debate than they have attracted during the presidential campaign." 
Let's show the Washington Post editorial board we agree with their call for more debate by getting some letters into the Post challenging the drone strike policy. We've tried to make it easy for you by setting up a tool for sending them a letter, together with some suggested talking points. You can find that here:
Thank you for all you do to help bring about a more just foreign policy,
Robert Naiman, Chelsea Mozen, Sarah Burns and Megan Iorio
Just Foreign Policy
Please support our work. Donate for a Just Foreign Policy.
1. "Pulling the U.S. drone war out of the shadows," Editorial, Washington Post, November 1, 2012, http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/us-drone-war-demands-accountabili...
Submitted by Megan Iorio on 31 October 2012 - 3:16pm
The United States may be drawing down its longest war, but its second longest war seems to have just begun. November 3 will mark the tenth anniversary of the US's secret war of targeted killing—but according to a three-part series published in the Washington Post last week, US officials have no plans to draw this war down any time soon.  
The Post's description of the program and its de facto head, John O. Brennan, are quite terrifying. A “dispositional matrix” that is said to be in development as a guide for targeting sounds like the title of a bad Hollywood thriller. US officials calling Brennan a “priest-like presence” and lauding his moral depth is not only horrifying, but seems to reflect the frightening moral vacuity of those running the US drone program. 
The Post series notes that there is little internal contention over the effectiveness of the drone program. Neither is there any espoused difference between President Obama and Mitt Romney's views on the matter, as evidenced by Romney's zealous endorsement of Obama's drone program during the third presidential debate. 
And yet, when pressed, supporters of the US drone program sound inhuman when making their defense. When former White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, was asked recently to justify the killing of Anwar al Awlaki's 16 year old son—who was a US citizen—in a drone attack two weeks after his father was killed in another US drone strike, Gibbs' soulless response was to say that the boy shouldn't have had a terrorist for a father. 
Today, polls show that a majority of Americans support US drone strike policy. We're working to change that. Through education and grassroots organizing, we can turn the tide against current US drone policy, just as the tide turned against the Afghan war.
Robert Gibbs Blames Al Awlaki 16 Year Old Son's Death By Drone On His Having A Terrorist For A Father
Submitted by Megan Iorio on 31 October 2012 - 10:53am
Former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was cornered recently to answer questions on US drone strike policy. One journalist, Sierra Adamson, asked that Gibbs justify the killing of Anwar al Awlaki's 16 year old son—who was a US citizen—in a drone strike two weeks after his father was killed in another US drone attack. Gibbs said al Awlaki shouldn't have had a terrorist for a father.
Here's the transcript:
SIERRA ADAMSON: "Do you think that the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki's 16-year-old son, who was an American citizen, is justifiable?"
ROBERT GIBBS: "I'm not going to get into Anwar al-Awlaki's son. I know that Anwar al-Awlaki renounced his citizenship."
SIERRA ADAMSON: "His son was still an American citizen."
ROBERT GIBBS: "Did great harm to people in this country and was a regional al-Qaeda commander hoping to inflict harm and destruction on people that share his religion and others in this country. And..."
SIERRA ADAMSON: "That's an American citizen that's being targeted without due process of law, without trial. And he's underage. He's a minor."
ROBERT GIBBS: "I would suggest that you should have a far more responsible father. If they're truly concerned about the well-being of their children, I don't think becoming an al-Qaeda jihadist terrorist is the best way to go about doing your business."
Submitted by Megan Iorio on 30 October 2012 - 4:22pm
The Law & Order francise has a reputation for plucking stories from newspaper headlines, but few have hit on pressing foreign policy matters quite like this. A recent episode of NBC's Law & Order: SVU featured a character plotting a terrorist attack in the United States. At the end of the episode, it's revealed that the character's father was a doctor in Waziristan—and was killed in a secondary drone strike while attending the victims of the initial US attack. The storyline is obviously inspired by the Stanford/NYU report released last month, which accused the United States of having a policy of conducting secondary drone strikes against first responders in Pakistan. Here's the clip:
Bravo SVU team for helping to promote the report's findings to what is likely a whole new demographic. A June 2012 Pew poll showed that 62% of Americans support US drone strike policy. But where pop culture goes, the American public can't be too far behind.
Submitted by Megan Iorio on 25 October 2012 - 11:31am
Just Foreign Policy supporters urged Bob Schieffer to ask a question on drones—and he did!
During Monday night's presidential debate, moderator Bob Schieffer asked a direct question on a candidate's drone strike policy, which is more than had been raised in any previous debate this election season. Unfortunately, Schieffer only asked Mitt Romney the question—and let President Obama completely off the hook.
But that doesn't mean that the question was a failure. Simply raising the issue during the debate has led to a wave of media interest in US drone strike policy. Perhaps the most notable discussion occurred on MSNBC's Morning Joe when Joe Scarborough, the host and a former Republican congressman, challenged Joe Klein's defense of US drone strike policy with a passionate and well-reasoned argument against drone strikes.  And that's a true victory.
If Morning Joe can have a substantive debate about drone strikes, then other top news talk programs ought to be able to do so as well.
We learned at least one thing from Bob Schieffer's drone question: Mitt Romney supports President Obama's drone strike policy, and would continue it as president. However, Schieffer didn't press the point with Obama, claiming that “we know President Obama’s position on this.”  Schieffer's failure to ask Obama a question on drones was the topic of an article in the Washington Post,  and the lack of substantive debate on the issue inspired an article in Time detailing the real controversy drones have caused in Pakistan. 
Submitted by Megan Iorio on 23 October 2012 - 2:21pm
One benefit that has come from the simple asking of any drone question during last night's debate is that, today, people in the media are talking about drones, and in a far more substantial way than the candidates did last night.
One example is MSNBC'S Morning Joe. In the course of the commentator's discussion of last night's debate, Bob Schieffer's drone question came up. It was then that host Joe Scarborough, the former Republican Congressman, revealed himself to be a closet Code Pinker when it comes to drones. Scarborough confessed that he found US drone policy incredibly troubling, and presented a penetrating critique of US drone strikes. Joe Klein, on the other hand, defended Obama's policies, justifying the murder of four year-old Pakistani children with a "them or us" argument. In the end, three commentators, including Scarborough, said that they wished the debate last night had spent more time on the drones question.
Glenn Greenwald published an excellent critique of Klein's remarks over at the Guardian. A video clip of the discussion is below, as well as a transcript.
Submitted by Megan Iorio on 23 October 2012 - 10:57am
We got a question on drones last night at the third and final presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. The mere asking of a direct question on the candidates' drone policies is an advance over the near complete void of talk on the subject so far this election season. The moderator, Face the Nation's Bob Schieffer, deserves some thanks for that. We learned that Romney supports Obama's escalation of the drone program and that he would continue the program. But that's it, because Schieffer only asked Romney his position on drones—and asked nothing of Obama. Here's the transcript:
SCHIEFFER: Let — let me ask you, Governor because we know President Obama’s position on this, what is — what is your position on the use of drones?
ROMNEY: Well I believe we should use any and all means necessary to take out people who pose a threat to us and our friends around the world. And it’s widely reported that drones are being used in drone strikes, and I support that and entirely, and feel the president was right to up the usage of that technology, and believe that we should continue to use it, to continue to go after the people that represent a threat to this nation and to our friends.