Lawmakers Vote against Disclosing Victims of U.S. Drone Attacks

Monday, November 25, 2013
Drone Victim, Noor Syed, aged 8, killed in drone strike in Pakistan (photo: Noor Behram, Bureau of Investigative Journalism)

Barely three weeks after largely avoiding historic first-person testimony by Pakistani victims of U.S. drone strikes, Congressional lawmakers killed a proposal to force the government to publish an annual count of the casualties caused by American drone attacks. In fact, none of the 15 members of the House Intelligence Committee who voted against the idea bothered to attend the victims’ hearing. A similar provision was approved earlier in November by the Senate Intelligence Committee.


Although the Obama administration insists that the drone strikes—which it escalated dramatically starting from 2009 to 2011—have killed or injured only a small number of people, respected human rights groups report larger totals.


Rep. Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who sponsored the bill, argued Thursday that "production of this report will require minimal resources, but will provide a modest but important measure of transparency and oversight.” He vowed to continue fighting for the provision’s passage.


Congressional Republicans and some Democrats reject the idea of publishing casualty totals related to drone strikes that are largely conducted as “covert actions,” that officially are not happening.


"People complain justifiably that the Obama administration is not being transparent," said Robert Naiman, policy director for Just Foreign Policy. “But Congress also is not being transparent. Every day this drone policy continues, Congress is voting through its inaction to do nothing.”

One representative of the drone victims, Suraia Sahar of Afghans United for Justice, condemned the vote: “By blocking transparency, the House denies accountability for the slaughter committed against innocent lives in drone strikes. This is a gross disregard for human life.”

-Matt Bewig


To Learn More:

House Committee Rejects Provision Requiring Account of Drone Casualties (by Mark Hosenball, Reuters)

Lawmakers Vote to Keep Drone War Deaths Secret (by Susan Lazare, Common Dreams)

Members of Congress Avoid First-Ever Testimony by Pakistani Drone War Victims (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Unnamed U.S. Official Denies Drones Have Killed 168 Children in Pakistan (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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