Despite rumors that the Obama administration was planning to shift the drone program from the CIA to the Pentagon for the sake of accountability, U.S. officials say the CIA will continue to run to targeted killing program in Pakistan.
According to the officials, who remained anonymous, the decision to keep the CIA in charge of the program for the time being is so that it can remain secret and so that the Obama administration can maintain deniability.
This is in keeping with the Obama administration’s approach from the very beginning. As Rosa Brooks, Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center, told the Senate last month, the secrecy of the drone war obstructs accountability and undermines the rule of law.
“When a government claims for itself the unreviewable power to kill anyone, anywhere on earth, at any time, based on secret criteria and secret information discussed in a secret process by largely unnamed individuals, it undermines the rule of law,” Brooks said.
The decision not only to keep the drone war in Pakistan secret, but to continue it at all is increasingly controversial.
Ben Emmerson, the UN special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, said earlier this year that the drone war in Pakistan is illegal because it violates Pakistani sovereignty, insisting that Pakistani authorities do not consent to drone strikes on their territory, contrary to claims made by U.S. officials.
“As a matter of international law the US drone campaign in Pakistan is therefore being conducted without the consent of the elected representatives of the people, or the legitimate government of the state. It involves the use of force on the territory of another state without its consent and is therefore a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty,” Emmerson said.