Photo Credit: Yahya Arhab/EPAThe lawyer who first drew up White House policy on lethal drone strikes has accused the Obama administration of overusing them because of its reluctance to capture prisoners that would otherwise have to be sent to Guantánamo Bay.
John Bellinger, who was responsible for drafting the legal framework for targeted drone killings while working for George W Bush after 9/11, said he believed their use had increased since because President Obama was unwilling to deal with the consequences of jailing suspected al-Qaida members.
“This government has decided that instead of detaining members of al-Qaida [at Guantánamo] they are going to kill them,” he told a conference at the Bipartisan Policy Center.
Obama this week pledged to renew efforts to shut down the jail but has previously struggled to overcome congressional opposition, in part due to US disagreements over how to handle suspected terrorists and insurgents captured abroad.
An estimated 4,700 people have now been killed by some 300 US drone attacks in four countries, and the question of the programme’s status under international and domestic law remains highly controversial.
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