Keith Ellison wants Congress to reform U.S. drone policy

Keith Ellison wants Congress to reform U.S. drone policy
Ellison recognizes the drones produce results, but wants Congress to take a hard look at policies.

Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison thinks it's about time Congress takes a hard look at policies surrounding U.S. drone strikes, Barack Obama's choice weapon against terrorists outside of Iraq and Afghanistan since he took office.

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In a letter published by the Washington Post Sunday, Ellison points to a recent rash of drone strikes in Pakistan as further evidence that key details of the attacks -- including how many innocent civilians have been killed -- remain mostly mysterious.

Writes Ellison:

The heart of the problem is that our technological capability has far surpassed our policy. As things stand, the executive branch exercises unilateral authority over drone strikes against terrorists abroad. In some cases, President Obama approves each strike himself through "kill lists." While the president should be commended for creating explicit rules for the use of drones, unilateral kill lists are unseemly and fraught with hazards.

Though he doesn't argue against a drone's ability to produce results, Ellison also questions how the attacks could influence global perceptions of the United States, particularly citing Pakistan, where most strikes have occurred. "Drone strikes may well contribute to the extremism and terrorism the United States seeks to deter," he writes.

Ellison certainly isn't the only one taking a critical eye toward drones. MSNBC host Rachel Maddow recently called them "Orwellian." Obama even told Daily Show host Jon Stewart in an October interview that, regarding drone strikes, "One of the things we've got to do is put a legal architecture in place."

For more on drone strikes and the so-called "Kill List," Propublica published an excellent comprehensive piece on the issue last week, which you can read here.

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