President-elect Donald Trump will be able to employ deadly drone strikes largely at his discretion if current guidelines remain in place. And President Barack Obama has no plans to change those rules before he leaves office, the Guardian reported Tuesday.
The next president will inherit the so-called drones "playbook" created by the Obama administration in 2013 that dictated policy on drone strikes, the president's main way of striking against terrorism. Since drone usage began under the administration of President George W. Bush, thousands of people have been killed through the targeted strikes from unmanned aircraft and many nations across the globe consider the standards the U.S. applies for drone strikes to be too secretive.
"Maybe on the left no one would believe that Trump has a steady hand, but Obama has normalized the idea that presidents get to have secret large-scale killing programs at their disposal," Naureen Shah of Amnesty International USA told the Guardian.
The Obama administration claimed that 2,436 people were killed in 473 counter-terrorism strikes between January 2009 and the end of last year. The strikes took place in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya. Of those killed, the administration claimed between 64 and 116 were civilians, Vox reported. Others have reported that the number is far higher. The nonprofit Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported that between 380 and 801 civilians were killed from the strikes.
Obama-administration ordered strikes have also killed American citizens in counter-terrorism efforts, some by accident, but others deliberately without giving them their right to a trial. And while all of this is allowed under Obama's "playbook," even those rules could be completely thrown out and reworked by Trump's administration.
Trump has taken a particularly hard-line stance on fighting terrorism, including deliberately killing civilian families of terrorists, bringing back waterboarding and putting American terrorism suspects on military trial in a Guantánamo Bay prison. Trump also said on the campaign trail he would "bomb the s--t" out of the so-called Islamic State group.