Human Rights First has asked President Obama to clarify two points of international law: First, that his administration does not permit the targeting of all members of any terrorist group with which it claims to be at war; and, second, that it does not permit the targeting of individuals merely because they are seen to be associating with members of a terrorist group.
The government should also provide further information on the criteria for lethal targeting decisions, the process by which targeting decisions are made, and the mechanisms in place to provide accountability and remedy for violations of the law. Such information should include a copy, with as few redactions as possible, of the Office of Legal Counsel's 2010 memorandum on the lethal targeting of Anwar al-Awlaki -- an account of which has appeared in the New York Times.
Without such public accountability for its lethal drone program, we can have no confidence that the United States is complying either with international or domestic law, or even pursuing a sensible policy.
Despite all the speeches, the administration's response to allegations of errors and evidence that significant numbers of innocent civilians are being maimed and killed by U.S.-sponsored targeted killing remains: "Trust us." That is not an acceptable response in a democracy.