WHAT OTHERS SAY: On drones, more transparency is needed

Saturday, April 13, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

A recent investigation by McClatchy Newspapers raises worrisome questions about the Obama administration’s policy governing drone strikes.

President Barack Obama has said drones are only used against threats that are “serious and not speculative.”

In a CNN interview last year, Obama said strikes by missile-firing drones are employed in situations “in which we can’t capture the individual before they move forward on some sort of operational plot against the United States.”

But McClatchy, citing top secret documents, recently reported that drone strikes have been directed at a much wider spectrum of targets, including Afghan insurgents and members of a Pakistani extremist group, as well as “other militants” and “foreign fighters.” The Obama administration must move quickly to explain the obvious gap between its stated policy and what’s actually happening.

The McClatchy story also highlighted the devilish problems attendant to trying to work with the Pakistani government and its army, widely known to be a “state within a state.”

It turns out that while Pakistan’s highest officials were loudly condemning drone strikes on their side of the border, the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate was working with the CIA on drone strike targeting within Pakistan.

Drone strikes have proven to be a highly effective weapon against terrorists, but it’s a weapon that raises questions regarding the proper use of military force. The Obama administration’s reluctance to shed more light on its policy has undermined its credibility. A good first step in repairing the damage would be more disclosure.

Copyright The Kansas City Star. Reprinted with permission.

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