Obama promised more drone strike transparency. That promise is about to be tested.

President Obama.
(Image credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

In July, the White House made a dual announcement about drone strikes: first, that fewer than 116 civilians have been killed by drones throughout President Obama's entire tenure, a figure independent observers say is far too low to be remotely accurate; second, that Obama signed an executive order mandating greater transparency on civilian casualties going forward, including an annual death toll report.

Now, a coalition of civil liberties and human rights organizations has called on Obama to make good on his pledge. "We write to request that, as part of a robust effort to implement the Executive Order this fall, your administration investigate 10 past drone strikes as well as other strikes where there are credible allegations of harm to civilians," the group said in a letter sent Thursday. The strikes in question took place between 2009 and 2014 in Pakistan and Yemen and are alleged to have killed as many as 41 innocents in a single hit.

In addition to a transparent investigation, the letter asks that the United States take public responsibility for all verified civilian deaths and offer condolence payments to the families of those killed. The Intercept's request for comment on the letter from the National Security Council, which includes Obama and a select group of high-ranking officials who make top-level security decisions, was denied.

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Bonnie Kristian

Bonnie Kristian was a deputy editor and acting editor-in-chief of TheWeek.com. She is a columnist at Christianity Today and author of Untrustworthy: The Knowledge Crisis Breaking Our Brains, Polluting Our Politics, and Corrupting Christian Community (forthcoming 2022) and A Flexible Faith: Rethinking What It Means to Follow Jesus Today (2018). Her writing has also appeared at Time Magazine, CNN, USA Today, Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, and The American Conservative, among other outlets.