US at crossroads on drone ops

(CNN)While much of the debate over America’s security policy during this presidential campaign has centered on the response to specific attacks — Brussels, Orlando, Nice — a remarkable thing happened earlier this month. Quietly, without much attention, the Obama administration released an important policy document into the public domain, one that has previously been classified at the highest levels, but which was released with surprisingly few redactions.

It’s probably not surprising that the document didn’t generate many headlines. Released under pressure from litigation, the Presidential Policy Guidance “Procedures for Approving Direct Action Outside the United States and Areas of Active Hostilities” is a bureaucratic sounding paper.

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But the content of the document — otherwise known as the PPG, provides the first comprehensive articulation of one of the United States’ most controversial policies: the use of drones.

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One way to begin bridging this gap would be to implement the recommendation from a 2014 bipartisan drone task force to establish an independent commission to oversee drone policy. Such a committee — properly staffed with experts from the human rights, military, intelligence, and legal and policy communities — could increase the diversity of views provided to the President and just as importantly, create a mechanism for greater mutual understanding among the various communities involved in US drone policy.
As the recent attacks have shown, we’re a long way away from defeating ISIS and al Qaeda, and the next President will need to consider a full range of options for addressing terrorist threats. Taking clear steps to improve the effectiveness, transparency and legitimacy of our drone operations ought to be at the top of that list.

Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/21/opinions/drone-policy-hartig/index.html

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