Washington: The Obama administration is making a formal rulebook that will set out the situations in which targeted killing by unmanned drones is justified, according to reports.
The New York Times, citing two unnamed sources, said explicit guidelines were being drawn up amid disagreement between the CIA and the departments of defence, justice and state over when lethal action is acceptable.
Human rights groups and peace groups opposed to the CIA-operated targeted-killing programme, which remains officially classified, said the administration had already rejected international law in pursuing its drone operations, the Guardian reports.
“To say they are rewriting the rulebook implies that there isn’t already a rulebook” Jameel Jaffer, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Centre for Democracy, said.
“But what they are already doing is rejecting a rulebook – of international law – that has been in place since [the Second World War],” he added.
According to the report, he said that the news was ‘frustrating’, because it relied on ‘self-serving sources’.
The ACLU is currently involved in a legal battle with the US Government over the legal memo underlying the controversial targeted killing programme, the basis for drone strikes that have killed American citizens and the process by which individuals are placed on the kill list, the report said.
Jaffer said it was impossible to make a judgment about whether the ‘rulebook’ being discussed was legal or illegal.
“It is frustrating how we are reliant on self-serving leaks,” Jaffer said.
According to the report, the New York Times said that, facing the possibility that Obama might not be re-elected, work began in the weeks running up to the November 06 election to ‘develop explicit rules for the targeted killing of terrorists by unmanned drones, so that a new president would inherit clear standards and procedures, according to two administration officials’.
Medea Benjamin, the co-founder of Code Pink, an anti-war group, said the news that formal rules were being written for targeted killing was ‘disgusting’.
"That they are trying to write the rules for something that is illegal is disgusting" Benjamin said.