Biden administration discloses Trump rules for strikes outside war zones
The Biden administration disclosed a set of rules former President Trump issued in 2017 for counterterrorism operations outside war zones.
The disclosure comes as the current White House mulls whether to keep them in place.
The operations covered under the rules include commando attacks and drone strikes.
The release from the Biden administration shows that under the Trump-era rules, commanders were given the authority to launch attacks if there was “near certainty” no harm would come to civilians.
Exceptions to those rules were also permitted “where necessary.”
The release comes after an October ruling by a federal judge in Freedom of Information Act lawsuits filed by The New York Times and by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
The rules that were disclosed were redacted in some areas, according to the Times’s report the documents.
“We appreciate this release, which confirms our fear that President Trump stripped down even the minimal safeguards President Obama established in his rules for lethal strikes outside recognized conflicts. Over four administrations, the U.S. government’s unlawful lethal strikes program has exacted an appalling toll on Muslim, Brown, and Black civilians in multiple parts of the world,” Brett Max Kaufman, senior staff attorney for the ACLU, said in a statement.
“Secretive and unaccountable use of lethal force is unacceptable in a rights-respecting democracy, and this program is a cornerstone of the ‘forever wars’ President Biden has pledged to end. He needs to do so,” he added.
The Biden administration in January mandated a new rule that the White House itself must greenlight operations outside Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria as it reviewed the Trump guidelines.
It is still unclear how that rule will be impacted by the upcoming withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, which is expected to be complete in September.
Drone strikes, including outside war zones, have been among the most controversial war tactics the U.S. has deployed in the war on terror, with critics blaming the operations for several civilian deaths.
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