Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism – In a letter to President Biden, dozens of Democrats in Congress raised grave concerns about “repeated civilian casualties arising from secretive and unaccountable lethal operations.”
Congressional Democrats on Thursday urged President Biden to overhaul his counterterrorism strategy and targeting criteria for drone strikes, citing grave concerns about “repeated civilian casualties arising from secretive and unaccountable lethal operations.”
The letter came a day after The New York Times published newly declassified surveillance footage providing additional details about the final minutes and aftermath of a botched drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan, in August that killed 10 innocent civilians, including seven children. Eleven senators and 39 members of the House, led by Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Christopher S. Murphy of Connecticut, cited that strike as “emblematic of this systemic failure that has persisted across decades and administrations.”
“When there is little policy change or accountability for repeated mistakes this grave and this costly,” the senators wrote, “it sends a message throughout the U.S. armed forces and the entire U.S. government that civilian deaths — including deaths where there was no military target — are the inevitable consequence of modern conflict, rather than avoidable and damaging failures of policy.”
The letter, which was also led by Representative Ro Khanna of California, was a stinging rebuke of the administration’s current policies amid growing evidence of recurring episodes over multiple administrations in which civilian bystanders have been killed during drone strikes. And it came as top officials in Mr. Biden’s administration were working on a new policy governing drone warfare away from traditional battlefields.
“We cannot ignore the terrible consequences of U.S. drone strikes over several administrations,” Ms. Warren said in a statement. “I’ve long pushed for greater accountability for civilian casualties, and the president should seize this moment to systematically reform our counterterrorism strategy.”