Transcript: Retired Gen. James Cartwright’s testimony on drones & targeted killing – Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on April 23, 2013

Partial transcript of testimony by Gen. James Cartwright, United States Marine Corp (Ret.), on the “Drone Wars: The Constitutional and Counter-Terrorism Implications of Targeted Killing”. The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights hearing was held on April 23, 2013:

In the time allotted, I would like to address three questions central to the topic of this hearing.

The first, are we to continue with policies of the global war on terror as they relate to targeted killings and the use of armed remotely-piloted aircraft – that is, number one, defeat terrorists and demolish their organization; number two, identify, locate, and demolish terrorists along with their organizations; three, deny sponsorship, support, and sanctuary to terrorists; four, diminish the underlying conditions that terrorists seek to exploit; and fifth, defend U.S. citizens and interests at home and abroad under both the domestic and international law regarding national self-defense. I support this mission and policy.

Second, under what authority and accountability framework when operating outside the United States are we to operate: intelligence – often referred to as Title 50 and covert activities; military – often referred to as Title 10 and clandestine activities; law enforcement – usually on the outside by the FBI; or some other framework? Is the framework robust enough in this mission area to provide appropriate direction, oversight, and accountability?

The DOD [Department of Defense] framework requires written orders from the National Command Authority – Secretary of Defense and the President – to each person in the chain of operation and accountability – who, what, when, where, what capabilities, what restraints, and what types of collateral damage, what to do if there is collateral damage, required metrics and after-action reports, et cetera. This direction is provided in the mission statement and objectives, warning orders to begin detailed planning, preparations to deploy orders to move to a point of embarkation, deployment orders to move to the objective, and orders to conduct the operation.

I could support consolidation of the armed remotely-piloted aircraft under DOD – a question that was asked of me – only if there are fundamental changes in how DOD trains and equips for this mission.

I believe each of the authority and accountability constructs – intel, military, and justice – should remain available to the President adjusted to ensure they are effective for this particular mission.

Lastly, under what conditions are armed remotely-piloted aircraft an appropriate capability to carry out this mission? In this campaign, the U.S. has employed bombers, attack aircrafts, cruise missiles, and special operation forces in various scenarios.

Improvements in technology and emergence of armed remotely-piloted aircraft have provided a significant improvement in our ability to find, fix, and target in this mission area. They are not perfect. They can be improved. No other capability we have today is better suited, though, to conduct this mission under the guidelines provided.

Improvements in sensors and weapons that increase better identification of authorized targets and weapons that reduce the potential for collateral damage should be pursued.

Finally and in summary, my recommendations to the committee:

One, review and address as appropriate the framework for direction, oversight and accountability. And I have a long piece on this inside of my written testimony. If it is to be a covert mission, it should be conducted by the intelligence community. If it is to be a clandestine mission, it should be conducted by the military and train and equip authorities will need to be adjusted.

Improve the remotely-piloted aircraft and weapon system used in this mission to better align their capabilities with the desired effect.

I am concerned we may have conceded some of our moral high ground in this endeavor. While I continue to support the objectives of this campaign, I commend the committee for its consideration the recommendations in my written and oral statements. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


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One Comment on “Transcript: Retired Gen. James Cartwright’s testimony on drones & targeted killing – Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on April 23, 2013

  1. Pingback: Spotlight: U.S. Drones & Targeted Killing | What The Folly?!

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