No Apology, No Accountability for Drone Deaths, but People are Taking the Targeted Killers to Court

Debra Sweet | June 12, 2015

"I profoundly regret what happened," Obama said, apologizing to the families of the deceased.  When a U.S. citizen, Warren Weinstein, and a European were killed by a U.S. drone strike, Obama apologized. 

When four other U.S. citizens who were Muslims, including the 16 year old Abdulrahman al-Aulaki. were targeted and killed, he not only didn't apologize, he didn't acknowledge them for years.  When he did, it was to make vague pledge of transparency.

But we know where that's gone.  There has been no apology, no accountability.  This is the stuff of international terror directed at whole peoples, and it's in the news this week because some victims are making demands.

Faisal ali bin Jaber filed suit in US federal court this week, demanding an explanation, and an apology for the 2012 killing of his brother-in-law and nephew in a targeted killing operation.  Families of Drone Strike Victims in Yemen File Suit in Washington

Says Scott Shane in The New York Times: "The drone strike in question has drawn considerable attention as a case study in what can go wrong when missiles are fired by operators thousands of miles away based on incomplete intelligence." 

That's one way to put it.  But in a letter to the Times editor, we say:

Families whose members were killed as collateral damage in the Obama administration's targeted killing program are seeking the justice of an explanation in U.S. courts says Scott Shane today.  "I want to know if someone will be held accountable for their deaths" Faisal bin Ali Jaber, whose brother-in-law and nephew were blown up in an August 2012 strike, told Congress in 2013.

Both U.S. drone programs run by the CIA and the military, despite President Obama's pledge of transparency, are secret, as are the facts about who has been killed. A study by Stanford International Human Rights & Conflict Resolution Clinic shows there is credible evidence many were non-combatants. See:

If Mr. bin Ali Jaber and other victims cannot get answers from the President or Congress, federal courts should be the place they receive redress of their disturbing and legitimate grievances.  The court should find the program unlawful, and order an apology.  Holding politicians further accountable for what has been done in our name is the responsibility of the people.

We urge you to send this to any paper reporting this story, or your own letter, and get the issue discussed around the U.S.

You may want to draw from points Ed Kinane raised in his presentation at World Can't Wait's Left Forum panel:

Drone Warfare Terrorizes Whole Peoples And Is Terrorism
Ed works with Upstate (NY) Drone Action and can be reached at edkinane (at)

Drone terror is not just about the maiming and killing of civilians or about assassinations and extrajudicial executions.

Nor the violation national sovereignty nor about a superpower’s contempt for international law. Nor about the deceit, clandestinity, or suppression of domestic civil rights that accompany drone terror.

Drone terror is also about the enduring fear drones generate – whether in Waziristan or rural Afghanistan or Yemen or wherever. A fear that leads hundreds of thousands to flee their homes and villages….except in Gaza, where, trapped in their open-air prison, few can flee. People in Gaza, living daily under the gaze of Israeli drones, endure years of trembling and despair.

Debra Sweet is the Director of World Can't Wait and tweets at @dsweetwcw.

Main Covert Drone War No Apology, No Accountability for Drone Deaths, but People are Taking the Targeted Killers to Court


World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.