The following editorial was published in last Monday’s Seattle Times:
Congress needs to hold President Obama accountable for his pledge to share information with lawmakers on drone use.
Obama’s speech Thursday at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., did not shed convincing light on the legality of using drones to kill terrorists or their appropriateness as a military option.
Before the speech, the administration confirmed that four U.S. citizens designated as terrorist threats or linked to them had been killed abroad in drone attacks.
The president’s own talking points about who is targeted and why and the legality of drones under U.S. and international law all need intense scrutiny by Congress.
Obama was emphatic about the effectiveness of drone strikes. At what cost? Those strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, acknowledged as not overt war zones, have not brought those nations any closer to the U.S.
Civilian casualties from errant drone attacks in Afghanistan compromise the good work done by U.S. forces to secure the country. The predictable effect, in the president’s own words, is to create new enemies.
The president apparently moved control of the drone strikes from the Central Intelligence Agency to the U.S. military. Congress has to follow up to see how that implied improvement makes a difference.
Obama is also long overdue to follow through on a 2008 campaign pledge to close the prison at Guantánamo.
The facility in Cuba that once held more than 700 detainees now has fewer than 200, and half of them are on a hunger strike.
Held without charges, their presence mocks the values of a nation grounded in the law. Repatriate them.
If any of the remaining prisoners ought to be locked up, bring them to the U.S. to stand trial. Employ the legal standards we have espoused on foreign soil.
Democrats and Republicans have an opportunity to join forces and hold the Obama administration accountable.
This is all about the behavior, standards and promises of the current occupant of the White House.