Iowa Senator Tom Harkin says he’s “very disturbed” by the news four Americans have been killed overseas by U.S. drones in counter-terrorism strikes. The Obama administration unveiled the information Wednesday, saying the four terrorist suspects were killed in covert operations since 2009 in Yemen and Pakistan. Harkin says it’s highly distressing.
“I’m very troubled by the drone policy, or lack of, that we’ve had in the past,” Harkin says. “I just don’t think it’s right for a president, any president, this one included, to be able to authorize a drone strike that kills people that may include American citizens.”
The president is expected to give an address on national security this afternoon, during which he’s to outline a new policy that sets parameters for when such lethal action with drones may be taken. “We have to have very careful Congressional oversight and scrutiny on the use of these weapons,” Harkin says.
“I’ve also been dismayed that they’ve been used by the CIA. That’s not their job. That’s the military’s job, not the CIA. Seems like the CIA has taken over military aspects without the kind of checks and balances that a lot of times the military has.” Harkin says he’ll be anxious to hear what President Obama lays out in the new strategies on drone warfare.
“We’ll see what that policy is and Congress either has to modify that policy or give the executive branch the authority to follow that policy,” Harkin says. “Again, I’ve been very disturbed by the use of drones, how they’ve been used and the expansive use of them without a clear policy guidance.”
The mission of the Iowa Air National Guard base in Des Moines is being converted from flying the current F-16 fighter jets to unmanned drones, with the change-over coming this summer. It’s been reported the Predator drones flown remotely from central Iowa will be capable of lethal force for missions in places like Afghanistan, though it’s expected they’ll primarily be used for surveillance.