Top civil liberties group calls for greater transparency regarding ‘targeted killing program’ and how officials handle possibility of civilian deaths
As the US debates expanding its campaign against the Islamic State beyond Iraq and Syria, the leading US civil liberties group is intensifying its efforts to force transparency about lethal US counterterrorism strikes and authorities.
On Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) will file a disclosure lawsuit for secret Obama administration documents specifying, among other things, the criteria for placement on the so-called “kill list” for drone strikes and other deadly force.
Information sought by the ACLU includes long-secret analyses establishing the legal basis for what the administration terms its “targeted killing program” and the process by which the administration determines that civilians are unlikely to be killed before launching a strike, as well as verification mechanisms afterward to establish if the strike in fact has caused civilian deaths.
The suit, to be filed in a New York federal court, also seeks basic data the Obama administration has withheld about “the number and identities of individuals killed or injured” in counterterrorism strikes, according to the ACLU filing. In February 2013, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who favors the drone strikes, estimated they had killed 4,700 people.