Study: More Drone Transparency Could Lead To Fewer Dead Terrorists

New report examines policy options for strikes

Al Qaeda terrorist smiles upon release from Guantanamo Bay / AP

BY:

Increasing the transparency of U.S. drone strikes or granting full control of them to the Defense Department could harm efforts to target terrorists, according to a new report.

The Center for Naval Analyses released a report this month about future policy options for the use of drones. The report noted that concerns have been raised about the transparency, legality, and civilian casualties associated with the strikes, which are still largely conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in areas such as Yemen and Pakistan.

While the study said fully shifting drone operations to the Pentagon—or revealing more details about targeting processes or targeted individuals—could bolster the legitimacy of the strikes, that would come at a cost. Terrorists could change their tactics as a result of more transparency.

"Impacts on all levels of military effectiveness include potential changes in adversaries’ actions that might result from a policy option—for example, a terrorist may be able to avoid being targeted if he or she gains a good understanding of targeting "go/no-go" criteria as a result of increased transparency," the report said.

"Releasing further details about U.S. targeting processes and standards and releasing details about targeted individuals could both significantly increase transparency but could also lead to considerable risk to U.S. military effectiveness," the report added. "Determining exactly what information to release would need to be evaluated carefully in light of these considerations."

 

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