1 January 2012
Congress in dark over US drone program

Press TV


MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft belonging to US Air Force

The White House and some US Congress lawmakers have locked horns over the US administration's refusal to provide details of Washington's controversial assassination drone programs around the world.

The White House has ignored the congressmen's call for information about the deployment of drones in Pakistan and Yemen, saying the lawmakers' request does not “hold water.”

The congressional leaders, however, argue that the CIA drone attacks do not receive adequate oversight and have had huge impact on the United States' foreign affairs.

The drone program, conducted by the CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) is only occasionally acknowledged by US officials, and details related to civilian casualties in drone strikes are not publicly commented on.

According to a report by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, some 957 Pakistani individuals fell victim to US drone strikes in 2010 alone.

US officials claim those killed are militants. Reports and witnesses, however, say casualties include civilians, too.

The Obama administration says it provides certain details to “appropriate” congressmen who are members of certain key committees.

The issue of US assassination drone attacks has strained relations between the US and its Asian ally with Pakistan insisting that the airstrikes violate its sovereignty.

While the US government has always declined to publicly discuss its aerial attacks in Pakistan, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta admitted on October 11 that the US is fighting a war in Pakistan, using drones.

The US vacated Shamsi Airbase in Southwestern Pakistan, used by the US military to launch drone raids, after tensions between Islamabad and Washington further escalated in November following NATO attacks on two Pakistani military checkpoints in northwest of the Asian country which killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

After the deadly NATO strikes, Pakistan warned that it will shoot down any American assassination drone intruding its airspace.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in December halted its drone attacks on Pakistan's tribal regions in an effort to mend fences with the Asian ally, according to a report.

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