Oct. 22 - The debate on drone strikes takes center stage as two human rights groups release reports condemning the Obama administration's use of drones. Produced by Nathan Frandino.
Reports published by two prominent human rights groups on Tuesday criticized the Obama administration's drone strategy, accusing the White House of indiscriminately killing civilians and ignoring international law. "Will I be next?" by Amnesty International and "Between a Drone and Al-Qaeda," by Human Rights Watch give detailed accounts of drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, including the number of suspected operations and the amount of deaths - both among militants and civilians. Amnesty called on the Obama administration to launch investigations into the killings that they say could violate international law. "The most challenging situation we had to face was the complete and utter secrecy of the U.S. authorities. Because of that, we cannot be 100 percent certain, but we are very concerned that these and other killings documented in our report may constitute extra-judicial executions or war crimes," said Mustafa Qadri, Amnesty International's Pakistan researcher. Human Rights Watch detailed in a 96-page report what it said were six "unacknowledged" U.S. military attacks on targets in Yemen, which either clearly, or possibly, violated international law, and demanded that the Obama administration end its secrecy regarding the attacks. Eighty-two people, 57 of whom were civilians, were killed during the six attacks studied by the group. One of the incidents occurred in 2009 and the other five happened in 2012-2013. President Obama defended his policies in a May 23 speech at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.. "Remember that the terrorists we are after target civilians, and the death toll from their acts of terrorism against Muslims dwarfs any estimate of civilian casualties from drone strikes. So, doing nothing is not an option," Obama said. White House spokesman Jay Carney reiterated his boss' message when asked about the reports during a press briefing on Tuesday. "We take extraordinary care to make sure that our counter-terrorism actions are in accordance with all applicable domestic and international law and that they are consistent with U.S. values and U.S. policy," Carney said.