US President Donald Trump has revoked the executive order requiring public reports on civilian casualties in drone strikes carried out by the CIA, as well as US military.
The new executive order, issued Wednesday, revokes the reporting requirement introduced by President Barack Obama in July 2016. The action required the Director of National Intelligence to release an unclassified summary of US strikes against terrorists “outside areas of active hostilities” and assessments of non-combatant deaths caused by those strikes.
The Pentagon still has an obligation to report on civilian casualties caused by US military operations, as it is mandated by the National Defense Authorization Acts of 2018 and 2019, Trump’s executive order noted.
In a statement commenting on the decision, the White House National Security Council said that the order removes “superfluous reporting requirements” that “distract our intelligence professionals from their primary mission.”
Obama’s former NSC spokesman Ned Price was furious, however, arguing that the reporting requirement allowed the US to “counter disinformation from terrorist groups with facts about the effectiveness and precision of our operations.”
And the “context” that the administration is providing is disingenuous. The Obama-era requirement applied to operations outside areas of active hostilities. The NDAA reporting requirement the administration is pointing to applies only to DOD operations in active war zones.
— Ned Price (@nedprice) March 6, 2019
The targeted drone program was created during the George W Bush administration and flourished under President Barack Obama, who even acquired the title ‘King of Drones’ from anti-war activists. When Trump took the reins he was not quite eager to dismantle the legacy of his predecessor and further increased drone operations.
The Obama-era restrictions on drone use, however, have been loosened even further; in March 2017 Trump designated Yemen and Somalia as areas of “active hostilities.” Since 2013, a sign-off procedure with the White House was required for strikes in countries not deemed to be active war zones and now drones freely roamed these two countries.
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