Reps. Walter Jones (R – NC) and Adam Schiff (D – CA) have co-sponsored a new bill, the Targeted Lethal Force Transparency Act, which aims to require the Obama Administration to issue annual reports on the use of drone strikes, including a figure of how many civilians they killed in those attacks.
Though President Obama has repeatedly promised “overhauls” and transparency measures on the drone programs, Congress remains more or less in the dark about who is being killed and why, with Rep. Jones saying this move would be the first step toward serious oversight of the drone program.
Ignorance may well be bliss, however, and the two face an uphill battle, with Council on Foreign Relations official Micah Zenko saying he doesn’t say any way the bill passes, adding “these are CIA operations that are covert by definition.”
Rep. Schiff noted the drone strikes are only “classified” because the president makes them so, and insisted the reports from the bill wouldn’t require any identification of who is doing the drone strikes or any specifics on individual incidents, but rather just seeks raw counts of who was killed every year.
The bill also explicitly rules out drone strikes used in ongoing wars, so the administration wouldn’t need to include drone strikes in Afghanistan itself, just those in nations the US isn’t currently engaged in official military operations against.