Drone killing: cash is no substitute for genuine transparency
September 16, 2016
In response to reports that the Obama Administration has agreed to pay €1m to the family of an Italian aid worker who was killed in a US drone strike in 2015, Jennifer Gibson, Reprieve staff attorney, said:
“The Lo Porto family’s terrible ordeal shows that the secret drone program is nothing like as accurate as the US Government claims. Yet there are many more civilian victims who have yet to receive a public apology – notably Faisal bin ali Jaber, who lost two innocent relatives to a drone strike in Yemen.
“Cash payouts are no substitute for genuine transparency. Why won’t the US Government come clean and apologize to all the civilians, including non-Westerners, wrongly killed by the misguided drone program?”
Giovanni Lo Porto, 37, was being held hostage by al-Qaida at the time of his death. Last year, President Obama, acknowledged that Lo Porto and an American named Warren Weinstein, 73, had accidentally been killed in a secret counter-terrorism mission.
In April 2015, President Obama publicly apologized for the drone killing of Giovanni Lo Porto – and announced an independent inquiry into their killings.
Faisal bin ali Jaber, a Yemeni environmental engineer whose innocent family members were killed in a US strike, has not yet had an acknowledgement of their deaths.
Faisal’s brother-in-law Salem and his nephew Waleed died in an August 2012 strike in their village. Salem was an anti-al Qaeda imam who is survived by a widow and seven young children; Waleed was a 26 year-old police officer with a wife and infant child.
Leaked intelligence indicates that U.S. officials knew they had killed civilians shortly after the strike on Mr Jaber’s family. In July 2014, the family was offered a plastic bag containing $100,000 in sequentially-marked US dollar bills at a meeting with the Yemeni National Security Bureau (NSB). The NSB official who had requested the meeting told a family representative that the money came from the US and that he had been asked to pass it along.
In November 2013, Faisal had traveled to Washington D.C. and discussed the strike with Senators and White House officials. Many offered personal regrets, but the US government has refused to publicly acknowledge or apologize for the attack.
Notes to editors
1. More information on Faisal bin Ali Jaber’s case is at http://www.reprieve.org/drones/faisal-bin-ali-jabar/.
A timeline of his case, including legal briefs, is at: http://www.reprieve.org/drones/faisal-bin-ali-jabar/timeline/
2. Reprieve is an international human rights organization. Reprieve US, based in New York City, can be contacted on Katherine [dot] oshea [at] reprieve.org. Reprieve’s London office can be contacted on: communications [at] reprieve.org.uk