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Drone Strike Oversight Sought by King, Rubio

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Just a day after the Justice Department disclosed publicly that four Americans had been killed overseas as a result of targeted drone strikes, two senators are calling for an independent “red-strike analysis” before launching lethal strikes directed at other Americans.

The legislation, drafted by Sens. Angus King, I-Maine, and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has clearly been on King’s mind for a while now. The new senator has taken an interest in the targeted-killings question from his seat on the Intelligence Committee. He had previously floated the idea of a drone court that might be something akin to the FISA Court.

“Today, I am proud to announce that Senator Marco Rubio and I are introducing a bipartisan bill to ensure an independent alternative analysis is conducted in the distinctive case of a U.S. person who is engaged in international terrorism against our country. As the President takes steps to shed more light on these policies, I believe this bill will complement those efforts by providing the framework for an independent review of such consequential decisions,” King said in a statement.

While the new proposal stops short of judicial review, an official from outside the part of the intelligence community that wants to launch the strike would helm the “red-team” tasked with reviewing the request.

“This legislation provides a new layer of accountability and ensures the American people are informed through prompt notification to the congressional intelligence committees. In no way does this bill tie the president’s hands to defend the nation or impede operators from targeting terrorists knowingly engaged in acts of international terrorism against the United States who happen to be U.S. persons,” Rubio said.

The legislation comes the same day that a White House official says that President Barack Obama will speak directly to the question of drone killings during a speech at National Defense University. The official said that Obama would outline the legal rationale for the targeted killings.

Here’s a brief summary of the bill provided by King’s office:

 The Targeted Strike Oversight Reform Act of 2013 would ensure independent oversight of cases where the head of a U.S. intelligence agency has determined that a U.S. person is engaged in international terrorism against the U.S., and the government is considering the legality or the use of targeted lethal force against that individual.  In such cases, the TSOR Act would trigger several notifications and independent reviews, including:

·         Notification to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI)

·         Requirement that the DNI establish an independent “red-team,” led by an individual who does not report to the intelligence agency making the determination, to conduct an alternative analysis and report its findings within 15 days

·         Notification to the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community

·         Notification to the congressional intelligence committees regarding the identity of the U.S. person and the results of the red-team alternative analysis

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