Congress members urge Biden to overhaul counterterrorism policy

Washington, Jan 22 (IANS) Dozens of U. Congress members have jointly sent a letter to President Joe Biden asking for the review and overhaul of existing counterterrorism policy.

“Without systematic reforms centred on human rights and international law, the status quo will continue to undermine counterterrorism objectives, produce significant human and strategic costs and erode the rule of law and the US’ image abroad,” said the letter signed by 11 Senators and 39 members of the House of Representatives.

As many as 48,000 civilians in seven countries have been killed by the US strikes over the past two decades and at least 14,000 airstrikes have been conducted by unmanned aircraft since 2002 killing as many as 2,200 civilians, Xinhua news agency quoted the letter as saying citing third-party sources.

The actual numbers are likely to be significantly higher given the difficulty of comprehensive reporting and the US’ consistent underreporting of these numbers and reported refusal to investigate death report, it said.

“In far too many cases, rather than achieving the policy goal of eliminating hostile combatants to preserve US national security, lethal US strikes have instead killed thousands of civilians, including children.”

The Biden administration initiated the process to recalibrate policies on drone strikes but has not made an announcement of decision.

“We cannot ignore the terrible consequences of US drone strikes over several administrations,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in a statement.

“When US strikes kill civilians abroad, it’s both a moral failure and national security liability,” said a report by New York Times quoting Senator Christopher S. Murphy of Connecticut.

“When there is little policy change or accountability for repeated mistakes this grave and this costly, it sends a message throughout the US armed forces and the entire US government that civilian deaths — including deaths where there was no military target — are the inevitable consequence of modern conflict, rather than avoidable and damaging failures of policy,” the letter added.

Both Warren and Murphy signed the letter and led the efforts to push for overhaul of counterterrorism policy.

–IANS

ksk/