Drone strikes: Playbook shows how US officials select targets



WASHINGTON: The United States government has released a once-secret policy document once dubbed ‘the playbook’ that shows how officials select drone targets in areas outside war zones and the key role the president has in the process.

The 18-page Presidential Policy Guidance (PPG), published Saturday by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), provides more details than the government had previously revealed on how drone strikes are approved. “Actions, including lethal action against designated terrorist targets, shall be as discriminating and precise as reasonably possible,” the PPG states.

President Barack Obama typically must personally sign off on plans to strike terror suspects who are located outside war zones in which America is officially fighting. Such zones include Pakistan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. Strikes in combat theatres such as Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan are controlled by the military. Each case for action is subjected to legal review before it goes to the National Security Council and then the president.

The policy document says that ‘absent extraordinary circumstances’, a drone strike on a high-value target will only be taken if there is ‘near certainty’ no civilians will be killed, and says the US should respect another nation’s sovereignty in weighing drone strikes.

“The PPG provides crucial information about policies that have resulted in the deaths of thousands of people, including hundreds of non-combatants, and about the bureaucracy that the Obama administration has constructed to oversee and implement those policies,” ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer said.

National Security Council spokesman Ned Price stressed that the PPG offers protections to civilians that “exceed the requirements of the law of armed conflict.” He added that “the president has emphasised that the US government should be as transparent as possible with the American people about our counterterrorism operations.”

Original news : http://tribune.com.pk/story/1157729/drone-strikes-playbook-shows-us-officials-select-targets/