CONGRESS 13//DRONES | While some opponents of the Obama Administration’s use of military drones were placated by the president’s major national security speech Thursday, East Bay Rep. Barbara Lee, however, still has concerns.
Preceding the president’s speech Thursday morning, Lee introduced the Drones Accountability Act in Congress, which would require disclosing legal opinions and justifications leading to the uses of drones abroad. During President Obama’s speech, the issue of adding a layer of accountability to the issue of deploying drones in the Middle East was addressed. Obama again floated the idea of creating a secret court for signing off on the specifics use of drones.
In recent months, Lee has been one of the leading voices for limiting the use of drones, in addition to repealing the controversial Authorization of Use for Military Force (AUMF) passed in the wake of 9/11. In contrast, Alameda County’s other House member Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA-15) backs military drones, while also expressing support for the use of non-lethal domestic drones in the East Bay.
“I continue to have grave concerns over the use of lethal drone strikes and the current lack of Congressional involvement and oversight,” said Lee. “For the integrity of our Constitution, we must ensure that we have full accountability and sufficient transparency in our nation’s war powers, and I will continue to fight for a full and public debate on this issue.”
Earlier this year, Lee offered legislation (H.R. 198) to repeal the AUMF. She praised the president’s comments Thursday to potential rewrite the authorization of force within. “As the only Member of Congress to oppose the AUMF in 2001,” she said, “I warned about the state of perpetual war that our nation has now entered into. It’s far past time to repeal this overly broad, blank check for war, and I am encouraged that the President called for it today.”
Drones, say Lee, are an offshoot of the expansive powers given to the government following approval of the AUMF. “The lethal use of drones is but one example in the disturbing expansion of war powers that have been justified under the AUMF.”