The Obama administration recently permitted a partial lifting of the veil on its secret drone-assisted assassination program. This program targets alleged terrorist leaders in various countries such as Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen. There is debate regarding the statistics, but even if one relies on the “official” source, the number of civilians murdered exceeds 100. The administration apparently now, after 6 years of thousands of drone-assisted killing missions, supports revealing this data and favors measures to reduce civilian casualties.
The U.S. is not at war with the nations where the impugned drone killings are carried out. There is no justification, either legal or moral, for this program. It is akin to a Star Chamber in which members of a secret politico-military inner council identify and murder supposed terrorists and, in the fallout, kill innocent people as well. Of course, this is not to mention errors in intelligence leading to the direct targeting and murder of innocent civilians.
The issue is not how to render the program more effective or accountable. Rather, it should be simply recognized for what it is: state-initiated criminal activity of the worst kind. Those responsible should be held accountable. They have and are committing murder.