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Lee, progressives hold hearing on drone policy

By Josh Richman
Thursday, May 9th, 2013 at 10:24 am in Barbara Lee, Civil liberties, U.S. House, War on Terror.

Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, including the caucus’ Peace and Security Task Force Chair Congresswoman Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, held a hearing Wednesday on U.S. drone policy.

Predator droneAt issue were lethal drones operations abroad, questions of due process, implications for executive and congressional war-making authority, and the precedent being set as other nations rapidly adopt drone technology.

“I’m proud to stand with my colleagues in the Progressive Caucus on this issue, and am especially grateful for their efforts in calling this hearing,” Lee said in a news release. “We need to ensure that both chambers publically debate the implications of drones and drone warfare. We cannot retreat from our Congressional duties of oversight and accountability, especially on issues like this where the stakes are so high.”

Caucus members heard testimony from former House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ron Dellums, D-Oakland; Zeke Johnson, director of Amnesty International USA’s Security with Human Rights Campaign; international human rights lawyer and New York University Professor Sarah Knuckey; Chris Rogers, program officer of the Regional Policy Initiative at the Open Society Foundation; counterterrorism and human rights lawyer Professor Naureen Shah; and journalist Adam Baron. The hearing also includied video testimony from Baraa Shiban, a youth representative in Yemen’s National Dialogue and Reprieve Project.

Caucus co-chairs Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., and Keith Ellison, D-Minn., recently wrote a letter to President Barack Obama asking the administration to explain the legal basis for drone strikes. “It is far past time that the White House openly discuss the drones program,” the letter said. “The President has full reign to protect the United States as Commander in Chief, but Congress has a vital oversight role in this issue, and we cannot shy away from those responsibilities.”

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  • RR Senile Columnist

    An important issue drowned in molasses by the progs. Who cares what Ron Dellums thinks? He couldn’t run Oakland let alone a major committee.

  • JohnW

    I watched part of CSPAN’s live coverage of the Senate committee hearings on immigration reform today. The committee discussed and voted on various amendments, and the votes were more along regional lines than party lines.

    Feinstein wanted to amend a provision that would allow drones to patrol for illegal border crossings within 100 miles of the border. Feinstein pointed out that, with the ever increasing surveillance capabilities of drones she knows about from her chairmanship of the intelligence committee, a 100 mile band could have drones peeking into windows in San Diego and LA. Cornyn of Texas, on the other hand, argued that a band that wide is needed in Texas because of the nature of the terrain there. Both were right. Neither was wrong. They agreed to work on another version of the amendment that would address both concerns. It was refreshingly civilized.