Barack Obama and Hamid Karzai’s recent meeting didn’t reveal much of anything, but afterward Karzai followed it up by telling reporters the U.S. plans to hand Afghanistan its own fleet of drones.Karzai said the drones will be unarmed and for surveillance purposes, though he did not specify what breed of drone they would inherit, according to Azam Ahmed of The New York Times. The Karzai government will also get 20 helicopters, 4 C-130 transport planes and the training to use the systems.
The shift of equipment follows an open letter to the president from Congressman Keith Ellison, calling on Congress to force Obama to pull the curtain back from his drone strike policy.
From the letter:
Congress must require an independent judicial review of any executive-branch “kill list.” The U.S. legal system is based on the principle that one branch of government should not have absolute authority. Congress should object to that concentration of power, especially when it may be used against U.S. citizens.
Popular privacy blogger and director of the ACLU Massachusetts Technology for Prosperity project Kade Crockford points out in a post that not even Senator Ron Wyden knows anything about the drone policy.
The kicker is that Wyden, who wrote soon-to-be CIA Director John Brennan a letter on the subject, is a high ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee — a committee founded on the oversight of the same CIA’s daily operations they’ve been classified out of.
Ellison wrote to conclude his letter to Obama, “The United States will not always enjoy a monopoly on sophisticated drone technology.”
Americans may be sending the cutting edge tech for surveillance purposes, but even surveillance in America is a hotly contested debate. A bill banning the use of surveillance drones in domestic police operations just flew through the Florida state senate — and one might expect other states to lament as “30,000 drones” seek the skies above America.
The Karzai government isn’t just inheriting drones, it’s inheriting a murky, still-developing policy regarding their use.
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