A U.S. Air Force MQ-1B Predator unmanned aerial vehicle, carrying a Hellfire missile, lands at a secret air base after flying a mission in the Persian Gulf region on Jan. 7. — John Moore/Getty Images
The Obama administration has made “virtually no progress” to increase transparency and accountability for its lethal drone program, a new report has concluded, with only months left to spare before the White House hands control of the targeted killing apparatus to a successor.
The report by the nonpartisan Stimson Center said the administration is failing to release fundamental information about the program or to significantly overhaul it — even after a 2015 strike mistakenly left American contractor Warren Weinstein and Italian hostage Giovanni Lo Porto dead.
“We have seen relatively few successes,” said Rachel Stohl, a researcher at the center. “The administration has been unwilling to provide the number of strikes, even in aggregate; the number of civilian casualties that they estimate that have occurred because of those strikes; the legal justification, unless required by court order, that allows the program to continue; so even on the most basic levels, what is the program doing, we don’t know.”
A bipartisan task force called on the White House nearly two years ago to reconsider its reliance on targeted killing of suspected terrorists, in part, because the strikes may be doing more harm than good by fomenting hatred overseas. But Stimson researchers said they’ve uncovered little evidence anything like that reorientation has happened.