National Security Briefing: Senate Drone Hearing Challenges Target Killing Program

The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights met on Tuesday for the first wholly open hearing on the Obama administration’s targeted killing program, bringing forward a panel of witnesses skeptical of the program’s current scope and guidelines.

The Obama administration opted not to provide witnesses for the hearing, a decision Subcommittee Chair Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) called “highly disappointing.” The secrecy surrounding the targeted killing program has prompted heightened scrutiny in recent months, leading to increased calls from Congress for the White House to provide greater detail.

Among the witnesses most critical of the current policy was Farea Al-Muslimi, a Yemeni youth activist currently studying in the United States. Al-Muslimi told the panel of a drone strike on his village just six days prior, warning of their counter-productive effect within his country.

“You can’t win this war by simply killing more people on the other side,” al-Musini said. “Rather, I see the war against AQAP [Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula] as a war of mistakes. The fewer mistakes you make, the more likely you are to win. Simply put, with drone strikes, the United States has made more mistakes than AQAP.”

In other news:

  • The Wall Street Journal reports: South Korea and the United States have extended a deal on nuclear cooperation that prevents Seoul from producing its own nuclear fuel for two years, sidestepping a conflict between the two countries.
  • Reuters reports: An eight-story building in Bangladesh housing garment factories and a shopping center has collapsed, killing nearly 100 and injuring hundreds more.
  • The United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Aid now estimates that 4.25 million Syrians are internally displaced, with 6.8 million requiring assistance.