'A Dangerous Low': Trump Ignores Deadline for Reporting Civilians Killed by US Drone Attacks

The Trump administration on Tuesday flouted two major deadlines for disclosing the number of civilians killed by U.S. military forces: one public report that was mandated by an Obama-era executive order and focused on drone strike deaths; and one report to Congress that is supposed to detail all civilian deaths tied to U.S. military operations.

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“The Trump administration’s decision not to comply with even the meager transparency requirements of the executive order is a dangerous low,” declared Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project.

“It’s unacceptable,” she added, “for the government to simply refuse to release the numbers of people killed, let alone their identities, the rules governing its deadly decisions, or investigations into credibly alleged wrongful killing.”

A White House spokesman told the Washington Post, “The executive order that requires the civilian casualty report is under review,” and may be “modified” or “rescinded,” while a spokesman for the Pentagon said the congressional report is slated to be provided to lawmakers by June 1.

A team of counterterrorism and human rights experts at Just Security put the missed deadlines into context, outlining the broader shifts the administration has made with regard to deadly drone and military operations:

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“This increased secrecy about the costs and consequences of Trump’s killing policies prevents public oversight and accountability for wrongful deaths,” said Shamsi. “The victims of our government’s lethal actions deserve better, as does the American public in whose name the Trump administration is secretly killing people.”

Mariya Parodi, a press officer for Amnesty International USA, tweeted Tuesday evening:

While independents groups repeatedly criticized the Obama administration for providing vague and lowball estimates for the number of civilians killed, they did at least produce the mandated reports. As the Post details:

Airwars reported earlier this year that the Coalition waging an air campaign against ISIS—which includes the U.S., the U.K., France, Belgium, and Australia, plus possibly Jordan and Saudi Arabia—”cumulatively dropped 39,577 bombs and missiles in airstrikes against ISIS in 2017,” which likely killed “between 3,923 and 6,102 non-combatants… a 215 percent increase on the 1,243 to 1,904 civilians estimated as likely killed by Coalition strikes in 2016.”

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