CIA Chief Pressed to Support Annual Account of Drone Casualties
The CIA director and other intelligence chiefs were urged to increase transparency over covert drone operations by members of the House intelligence committee yesterday.
Adam Schiff, a Democratic Party congressman, called on CIA director John Brennan, to support an annual report detailing the number of alleged militants and civilians killed each year. This would enable the administration to ‘correct the record at times where there are misleading claims of civilian casualties’, he added, without providing detailed information to enemies of the US.
Brennan said this was ‘certainly a worthwhile recommendation’, but he refused to explicitly back it, insisted that the decision rested with the administration.
He added: ‘There’s a lot of debate about what is the basis for those determinations [of civilian and combatant casualties], and those numbers, so it’s something again I would defer to the administration on’.
Yesterday he emphasised his past efforts to increase transparency around the secretive campaign: ‘When I was at the White House [where he was Obama’s adviser on counter-terrorism] … I spoke repeatedly publicly about the so-called drones – remotely piloted aircraft – that had become an instrument of war and I spoke about that to the extent that I could.’
Drones and targeted killing were a recurring theme as the heads of five US intelligence agencies faced members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence as part of a wide-ranging hearing over international threats to the US. The committee is one of two Congressional bodies charged with overseeing the activities of the intelligence community.
Schiff’s Democrat Party colleague Jan Schakowsky said that public attempts to debate the use of drones were ‘thwarted by a lack of transparency’.
She added: ‘This year both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have conducted serious research and raised very legitimate concerns about the consequences of the drone programme on US security yet the government has not responded.’
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