ACLU Sues Trump Administration to Obtain Its Killing Program Policy

Lawsuit Seeks Document That Rolled Back Obama Administration Restrictions on Lethal Strikes

December 21, 2017 9:30 am

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NEW YORK — The American Civil Liberties Union filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit today demanding that the government release its new rules for drone strikes and other killings abroad. The rules are believed to loosen policy restrictions that aimed to limit civilian casualties in areas “outside of active hostilities,” such as in Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, and elsewhere.

The Trump administration adopted the changes in October, according to The New York Times. The new and less stringent policy, called the “Principles, Standards, and Procedures,” is believed to replace Obama administration rules, which were released in response to an earlier ACLU FOIA lawsuit.

Revisions in the new standards reportedly include lifting a requirement that a target must present a “continuing, imminent” threat to the United States, and permit lethal strikes against a broader category of people, including those with no special skills or leadership roles. The policy also eliminates the high-level vetting required for each individual strike, instead requiring only “higher-level approval” of “country plans” that will be reviewed annually, according to the Times.

It is unknown whether the new policy maintains other safeguards established under President Obama, such as the requirement that capture of a suspect be deemed infeasible before using lethal force.

“The inevitable outcome of looser rules is that the Trump administration will kill more people in more places, and more civilians and their communities will bear the costs,” said ACLU attorney Brett Max Kaufman. “Our democracy has no place for secret killing rules, and this policy must be made public.”

Today’s complaint is here:

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