“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 employees lawyer for the ACLU, stated in a press release Saturday.
The rules, titled “Principles, Standards, and Procedures for U.S. Direct Action Against Terrorist Targets,” permit for US direct motion towards lawfully focused terrorists “whose removal, either independently or as part of a broader campaign, is determined to be reasonably necessary to U.S. efforts to address the threat posed by the terrorist group.”
“The United States will continue to take extraordinary measures to ensure with near certainty that noncombatants will not be injured or killed in the course of operations, using all reasonably available information and means of verification,” the rules state, earlier than including: “Variations to the provisions in this section may be made where necessary” in step with different legal guidelines and tips.
It’s these “variations” that precipitated concern.
“Over four administrations, the U.S. government’s unlawful lethal strikes program has exacted an appalling toll on Muslim, Brown, and Black civilians in multiple parts of the world,” Kaufman stated in his assertion. “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.”
But Thomas P. Bossert, who helped develop the rules as a counterterrorism adviser to Trump, defended them to the Times, saying, “They were informed by American values, the principles of the laws of armed conflict, and tailored to combat the real and present threat to America and her allies.”
The ACLU filed the swimsuit in December 2017 towards the Departments of Defense, Justice and State after the Trump administration refused to make the rules public. Last fall, a federal decide ordered that the Trump administration needed to verify or deny the rules’ existence.
“We’ll refer you to the previous administration to speak to their policies,” National Security Council spokesperson Emily Horne stated in an e-mail to CNN Saturday.