An Open Letter to Congressman Mike Quigley on H.R.4372: the Targeted Lethal Force Transparency Act

by Joe Scarry

Rep. Mike Quigley
Illinois 5th Congressional District


Dear Congressman Quigley,

We have met and communicated frequently in recent years, particularly with respect to U.S. military actions, and I am grateful for your attention to my concerns as a constituent.

As you know, I have worked with others around the country over the past several years to raise awareness about U.S. drone killings and to build support for bringing those killings to an end.  I have written frequently in my own blog about drones, as well as worked with others inIllinoisWisconsinOhioMichiganIowaMissouriTexasFloridaNorth CarolinaVirginia,MarylandPennsylvaniaNew JerseyNew York, the New England states, WashingtonCalifornia,Arizona, and New Mexico, as well as other states, to build a national network and a critical mass to stop drone killing. 

Over this same period, there have been several indications from Congress that it is concerned about U.S. drone killings.  Finally, in recent weeks, a bill has been introduced to force the administration to come clean about its drone killings: H.R.4372: the Targeted Lethal Force Transparency Act.

Debate is beginning about the merits of H.R. 4372. I urge you, as one of the leading progressive members of Congress, to do everything you can to advance this bill to passage.  We need this bill for the following reasons:

* Operating in secret is undemocratic. The bill calls for disclosure of what the Executive Branch is doing. First and foremost, we must get the truth into the open. Without H.R.4372, the Executive Branch will be able to continue to carry out killings in secret.* We need to operate under the rule of law. The administration has dodged scrutiny of the legality of drone killings by hiding the facts. The first step in a return to the rule of law in this area is a finding of fact.

* With the facts, we will be able to judge legality. My personal belief is that the killings are wrong. I believe that once the facts are known, those killings will be generally recognized as wrong, and will be condemned, and will be subject to a variety of remedies (e.g. in our courts, by Congress, and by the general public).

In the long run, of course, we must put mechanisms in place so that no executions take place without a legal finding by a competent court of law.

There are many additional reasons why this bill is needed: drone killings are ineffective (because they create more conflict, not less); undemocratic (because roboticized war is leading to war without the people’s awareness, involvement, or consent); and immoral (because resolving conflict through violence is inconsistent with any vision of peaceful community).

For all these reasons, I hope that you will become an early and strong advocate of this bill.  Tell the administration to “come clean” on its drone killings, and start the return of this country to the rule of law and the due role of Congress in guiding how military force is used.

As always, thank you for everything you do,

Sincerely,

Joe Scarry
Resident, Chicago 5th Congressional District

Related posts

First Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) called the U.S. on the carpet for dodging the call from the international community to come clean about its drone killings. Then Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Walter Jones (R-NC) submitted a bill calling for drone transparency. So … are we finally going to get the truth?

(See REAL Progressives Demand that the U.S. Come Clean on Drone Killings)


A 2013 U.N. report makes it clear that the U.S. has to report fully on all its drone attacks.

(See 2014: The Year of Transparency (for U.S. Drone Use)?)









The reason the Administration is hiding truth about drones is that they don’t have a satisfactory answer for how decisions about drone strikes are made.  As we have known all along, we need the public to think about how crummy the whole drone program is, and then they will be ready to be on our side. The best way to get them really thinking is to shine a spotlight on the secrecy, evasiveness, and deceit involved in the U.S. drone program.

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