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Commentary :: Human Rights
BTL:U.N. and Human Rights Groups Challenge U.S. Use of Drones in Targeted Assassinations
12 Jun 2010
BETWEEN THE LINES Syndicated Radio Newsmagazine
U.N. and Human Rights Groups Challenge U.S. Use of Drones in Targeted Assassinations

Interview with Jonathan Manes, legal fellow with the ACLU National Security Project, conducted by Scott Harris

During his first 18 months in office, President Obama has increased the use of unmanned drone attacks on suspected terrorists in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and other nations. The increase in the use of predator drones is a strategy reportedly advocated by Vice President Joe Biden, but which has caused friction between Washington and both the Afghan and Pakistani governments. Supporters of the use of drones boast that that these weapons have enabled the U.S. military and CIA to kill 34 out of the top 42 al Qaeda operatives in Iraq. U.S. officials have also recently claimed that a drone attack killed Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, Al-Qaeda's third-ranking operative in Pakistan.

But in a report made to the United Nation's Human Rights Council on June 3, Philip Alston, the U.N. special representative on extrajudicial executions, called on the U.S. to use greater restraint in using unmanned drones to commit targeted assassinations of terrorism suspects beyond the war zones in Afghanistan. There is growing concern among international human rights activists and military officials that Washington's use of drones, based on a questionable legal foundation, could lead to a chaotic situation where dozens of nations carry out their own drone attacks across borders against individuals they label as terrorists.

Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Jonathan Manes, legal fellow with the American Civil Liberties Union's National Security Project. He explains why his group filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in March to obtain the government's legal basis for drone attacks, the number of civilians killed, and the process of oversight and accountability for such attacks. Contact the ACLU by calling (202) 457-0800 or visit their website at

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"Between The Lines" is a half-hour syndicated radio news magazine that each week features a summary of under-reported news stories and interviews with activists and journalists who offer progressive perspectives on international, national and regional political, economic and social issues. Because "Between The Lines" is independent of all publications, media networks or political parties, we are able to bring a diversity of voices to the airwaves generally ignored or marginalized by the major media. For more information on this week's topics and to check out our text archive listing topics and guests presented in previous programs visit:
"Between the Lines," WPKN 89.5 FM's weekly radio news magazine can be heard Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. ET; Wednesdays at 8 a.m. ET and Saturdays at 2 p.m. ET (Wednesday's show airs at 7:30 a.m. ET during fundraising months of April and October).
For an email subscription of "Between The Lines Weekly Summary" which features a RealAudio link to the week's program for Between The Lines, send an email to btlsummary-subscribe (at)
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P.O. Box 110176
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