Photo: Tech Sgt Erik Gudmundson
One of President Obama’s former intelligence chiefs believes that the Pentagon — and not the CIA — should run the U.S. drone program so that it operates within the laws of war, Carlo Muñoz of The Hill reports.Admiral Dennis Blair, the Director of National Intelligence from January 2009 to May 2010, told a Council on Foreign Relations conference call that current U.S. policy has created “all kinds of legal knots” regarding how and when America uses the controversial counterterrorism tactic.
Last week The Washington Post reported that the Obama administration is almost done with its “playbook” designed to establish clear rules for targeted-killing operations, but the CIA will continue to be exempt from the rules for the next year or more.
Blair said the CIA shouldn’t get a free pass in Pakistan and that the program should actually be run by military command so that there is transparency and accountability.
“The reason that we have covert action is to be able to deny it,” Blair said. “It was set up during the Cold War so that the United States could take action and U.S. officials could deny that we had done so. That simply does not apply to long campaigns … [in which] other nations cannot enforce their own laws.”
It is widely documented that the CIA has implemented a tactic known as a “double tap” — i.e. bombing a target multiple times in relatively quick succession and consequently striking first responders — that is considered war crimes under international law. Yet the spy agency refuses to acknowledge the program.
Blair argued that “drones can and should be used … under the normal procedures for law of war,” much like snipers are guided on who they can shoot at and who they can’t on a designated battlefield.
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