November 29, 2013

The Nov. 26 news article “Pakistan unveils homegrown drones” demonstrated precisely why U.S. drone policy must change.

The U.S. drone program seems to be operating under the rationale that if we have the drones, we make the rules. It operates without respect to national borders or citizenship, striking countries with which we are not at war and killing at least four U.S. citizens. Reports from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch dispel the myth of precision, detailing gruesome civilian injuries and casualties. “Signature strikes” target individuals not for their wrongdoings but for their characteristics. No system of justice exists for those wrongfully sentenced to death by U.S. drones.

U.S. officials have declined to provide transparency or oversight for the program or to comply with international law. These policies harden anti-American sentiment and weaken national security.

What if other countries used drones? Critics have often posed this question as a cautionary hypothetical, yet it will soon be reality. Pakistan’s unveiling of its drone technology should be a warning to the U.S. government that now is the time to introduce transparency, oversight and the rule of law into its drone program. It is time to lead by example.

Elizabeth R. Beavers,Washington

The writer is a foreign policy program assistant of the Friends Committee on National Legislation.