TEHRAN (Iran News) – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has blasted the US government for its “unlawful lethal strikes program” that has taken a heavy toll on Muslim, Brown and Black civilians in different parts of the world.
This comes after the administration of US President Joe Biden has released a set of rules former President Donald Trump secretly issued in 2017 for so-called counterterrorism operations.
The “direct action” operations include drone strikes and commando raids outside conventional war zones.
Under the Trump-era rules, commanders in the field were given the authority to make decisions about attacks so long as they fit within broad sets of “operating principles,” including that there should be “near certainty” that civilians “will not be injured or killed in the course of operations.”
Exceptions to those rules, however, were also permitted “where necessary.”
Some rules in the release, which comes after an October ruling by a federal judge in Freedom of Information Act lawsuits filed by The New York Times and by the ACLU, were redacted in some areas.
“We appreciate this release, which confirms our fear that President Trump stripped down even the minimal safeguards President Obama established in his rules for lethal strikes outside recognized conflicts,” Brett Max Kaufman, senior staff attorney for the ACLU, said in a statement.
“Over four administrations, the US government’s unlawful lethal strikes program has exacted an appalling toll on Muslim, Brown, and Black civilians in multiple parts of the world,” Kaufman added.
He also called on the Biden administration to end “unaccountable use of lethal force.”
“Secretive and unaccountable use of lethal force is unacceptable in a rights-respecting democracy, and this program is a cornerstone of the ‘forever wars’ President Biden has pledged to end. He needs to do so.”
The Biden administration in January suspended the Trump-era rules, mandating a new rule that the White House itself must greenlight proposed strikes outside of the war zones of Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.
At the same time, the Biden team began reviewing how both Obama- and Trump-era policies had worked — both on paper and in practice — with a goal of developing its own policy.
It still remains unclear how that rule will be affected by the upcoming pullout of American forces from Afghanistan, which is expected to be complete in September.
Drone strikes, including outside war zones, have been among the most contentious war tactics the US has deployed in the so-called war on terror.
The United States says the CIA-run drone strikes essentially kill militants, although casualty figures show that civilians are often the victims of the non-UN-sanctioned attacks.
According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, civilians and children are often mistakenly killed in the drone strikes.