House Committee Refused to Ban Drone Strikes on Unidentified People

Schakowsky: Official Figures Undercount Civilian Drone Deaths

Two weeks ago, the House Intelligence Committee completed its text for the 2014 Intelligence Authorization Act. The bill is out of committee and facing a vote in the broader House, following an attempt to reconcile it with the Senate’s version.

We knew that much, but what he did know was the details of the very secretive committee hearings that ending with this text. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D – IL) offered some specifics on her own failed amendment to the bill.

The Schakowsky amendment would’ve banned “signature” drone strikes, forbidding the US from carrying out drone strikes on people they haven’t identified, and don’t know, but simply assume are “enemy combatants” outside of declared combat zones. It failed 3-17.

Schakowsky said the question was a moral one for her, and that she believes the administration is dramatically underreporting civilian deaths from drone strikes because “every adult male is considered an enemy combatant in that situation.”

There’s no way to dispute the official figures, either, because those figures themselves are heavily classified and only available to members of the Intelligence committees. The Obama Administration insists no civilians have been killed in drone strikes.

Schakowsky expressed hope that the “useful” exchange in the debate would mean a future bill might ban such strikes, though the 3-17 defeat certainly doesn’t suggest that, and  Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D – MD) condemned the potential ban as a threat to the war on terror.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of