Rep. Thornberry Pushes for More Disclosure on Drone Strikes

Image: Rep. Thornberry Pushes for More Disclosure on Drone Strikes

Thursday, 09 May 2013 12:16 PM

By Melanie Batley

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Rep. Mac Thornberry plans to introduce a bill Thursday that would require the U.S. military to "promptly" inform Congress about every drone strike outside Afghanistan and any other counterterrorism operations area beyond declared war zones.

According to The Washington Post, the Texas Republican, who chairs the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Intelligence, Emerging Threats, and Capabilities, said that while his panel already gets regular reports from the Defense Department on drone strikes and other sensitive military operations, he wants to put a requirement into law.

"We've been doing a lot of this oversight anyway," Thornberry told the Post. "But I think it is time, for a variety of reasons, to formalize that in statute and make it clear to the American people that it's happening, because a lot of the oversight that has gone on, most people don't know about it."

He added, "There's been a comfort level that's been achieved and that's even an additional reason to say, 'Okay, we've got this down to where it's working pretty well, so let's put it in statute so everybody knows.'"

Some lawmakers of late have been clamoring for the White House to be more forthcoming about the details and justification of drone strikes by the CIA and military.

While the White House hasn't commented on the bill, spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden told the Post that the president intends to "engage Congress to ensure not only that our targeting, detention, and prosecution of terrorists remains consistent with our laws and system of checks and balances, but that our efforts are even more transparent to the American people and to the world."

The bill would require the administration to produce a report describing its legal justification and decision making behind military drone strikes and other capture-or-kill operations outside Afghanistan, the Post reported, but would stop short of asking for the release of classified information.

"The reason to have this information classified is still there and very strong," Thornberry said. "It's really important that everyone maintains the close-hold nature of this information. You don't want to tell the bad guys what you're doing. You don't want to endanger the lives of our folks who are out there keeping us safe."

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