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Published On: Tue, Apr 8th, 2014

Walter Jones and Adam Schiff introduce bill requiring yearly report on drone casualties

How many people were, and are killed  by US drone attacks?

A bipartisan, retroactive bill was introduced in the US Congress last week that would require an annual report on drone casualties in an effort to make drone use and it’s outcomes more transparent.

Armed Predator drone firing Hellfire missile 2010 photo Brigadier Lance Mans, Deputy Director, NATO Special Operations Coordination Centre

Armed Predator drone firing Hellfire missile 2010 photo Brigadier Lance Mans, Deputy Director, NATO Special Operations Coordination Centre

The legislation, the Targeted Lethal Force Transparency Act, was introduced by Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, and Walter Jones (R-NC), a member of the House Committee on Armed Services.

More specifically, if made law, it would require an annual report on the number of combatants and civilians killed or injured annually by strikes from remotely piloted aircraft, also known as drones. The requirement is retroactive for five years so that trends can be assessed. It also requires that the report include the definitions of combatants and civilian noncombatants used. This simple bill would increase the transparency and accountability in drone operations, a goal that has been endorsed by President Obama, CIA Director Brennan, and others in the intelligence community.

“An annual report will provide a modest, but important, measure of transparency and oversight regarding the use of drones,” said Rep. Schiff. “Despite our best efforts to ensure to a near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured, sometimes strikes do result in civilian casualties. We must be more transparent and accountable, both with ourselves and with the world, and narrow the perception gap between what really happens, and what is reported or assumed.”

“Our government’s use of drones for targeted killings should be subject to intense scrutiny and oversight,” said Rep. Jones.  “I believe this legislation is an important step in that direction, and I am pleased to join Congressman Schiff in this effort.”

The legislation would explicitly exclude strikes that take place in Afghanistan or other theatres of conflict. This bill is similar to an amendment sponsored by Senator Dianne Feinstein in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence which was included in the Senate’s FY14 Intelligence Authorization Act.

According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism,  the US and UK had launched almost 1,200 drone strikes in Afghanistan between 2008 and 2012. However in March 2013 the Bureau discovered the US military had stopped publishing data on drone use in Afghanistan and had deleted the few months’ data it had previously released from its publicly available records.

There have been at least 397 drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia during Obama’s two terms. They have killed at least 2,183 people including 279 civilians according to the Bureau’s estimates, based on open-source information.

While there were fewer drone strikes launching during President Bush’s administration – 52 strikes between 2002 and January 2009 – they killed more people on average than the Obama’s strikes. At least 416 people died in Bush era strikes, including 167 civilians.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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