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Reps. Adam Schiff and Walter Jones Introduce Bipartisan Bill Requiring Annual Reporting on Drone Casualties

Washington, DC –Today, Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, and Walter Jones (R-NC), a member of the House Committee on Armed Services,  introduced legislation – the Targeted Lethal Force Transparency Act – to  require an annual report on the number of combatants and civilians killed or injured annually by strikes from remotely piloted aircraft, also known as drones. The requirement is retroactive for five years so that trends can be assessed. It also requires that the report include the definitions of combatants and civilian noncombatants used. This simple bill would increase the transparency and accountability in drone operations, a goal that has been endorsed by President Obama, CIA Director Brennan, and others in the intelligence community.

“An annual report will provide a modest, but important, measure of transparency and oversight regarding the use of drones,” said Rep. Schiff. “Despite our best efforts to ensure to a near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured, sometimes strikes do result in civilian casualties. We must be more transparent and accountable, both with ourselves and with the world, and narrow the perception gap between what really happens, and what is reported or assumed.”

“Our government’s use of drones for targeted killings should be subject to intense scrutiny and oversight,” said Rep. Jones.  “I believe this legislation is an important step in that direction, and I am pleased to join Congressman Schiff in this effort.”  

The legislation would explicitly exclude strikes that take place in Afghanistan or other theatres of conflict.  Schiff previously offered an amendment to the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 during a markup of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that would have increased the transparency and accountability of the use of drones. This legislation is similar to an amendment sponsored by Senator Dianne Feinstein in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence which was included in the Senate’s FY14 Intelligence Authorization Act.

Steven W. Hawkins, the Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, stated: "Excessive secrecy about drone strikes has stalled accountability, damaged US credibility on human rights, and set a dangerous example for countries around the world that are acquiring drone technology. This bill will provide all members of Congress and the public with basic facts and figures, helping the debate on this policy move beyond speculation and secrecy."