Washington-A document that has been published by the American Civil Liberties Union reveals that U.S. President Barack Obama selects drone targets in areas outside war zones.
The partially redacted document was released as a result of a lawsuit brought by the ACLU, which has long sparred with the government over America’s secretive drone program.
According to Agence France Presse, the 18-page Presidential Policy Guidance (PPG) provides more details than the government had previously revealed on how drone strikes are approved.
“Actions, including lethal action against designated terrorist targets, shall be as discriminating and precise as reasonably possible,” the PPG states.
Obama typically must personally sign off on plans to strike terror suspects who are located outside war zones in which America is officially fighting. Such zones include Pakistan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.
Strikes in combat theaters such as Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan are controlled by the military.
The policy document says that “absent extraordinary circumstances,” a drone strike on a high-value target will only be taken if there is “near certainty” no civilians will be killed, and says the United States should respect another nation’s sovereignty in weighing drone strikes.
National Security Council spokesman Ned Price stressed that the PPG offers protections to civilians that “exceed the requirements of the law of armed conflict.”
He added that “near certainty” that the target is present, and that non-combatants will not be killed, was the “highest standard we can set.”
“The president has emphasized that the U.S. government should be as transparent as possible with the American people about our counterterrorism operations, the manner in which they are conducted, and their results,” Price said in a statement.
“Our counterterrorism actions are effective and legal, and their legitimacy is best demonstrated by making public more information about these actions as well as setting clear standards for other nations to follow.”
“The PPG provides crucial information about policies that have resulted in the deaths of thousands of people, including hundreds of non-combatants,” ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer said in a statement.