The Obama administration has released a previously secret 18-page policy guidance document that lays out how potential drone targets may be chosen and approved and the President’s role in the decision-making process.
It’s a positive note that this policy takes reality into account. Nothing can be certain, but measures are in place to limit the consequences of uncertainty.
In general, the action of releasing such information can be good for civilian trust in U.S. democracy. It allows for transparency in the matters of procedure in high value terrorist-related situations.
If there are differences of opinion about an operation between top-ranking members of the National Security Council, the PPG states, “The President will adjudicate any disagreement.”
This section, gives the President a large amount of power. However, the liability also falls upon the President, which can be a deterrent of sorts from the abuse of power. The President answers to the public in general, and even more so when the consequences stem from a decision he directly makes himself.
Besides outlining the policies for drone strikes, this document also lays out what criteria needs to be followed for an operation to capture a terror suspect, such as whether it would further US strategy, the implications for broader regional and political interests of the US, whether the capture would interfere with any intelligence collection and the long-term disposition options for the person.
The policy sounds reliable because the research into situations and the decision-making are thorough. This, however, can take time. The question is, how does this policy adapt to situations that are time-sensitive? What factors are in place for the kinds of issues that have to be decided on quickly? Or does that require a policy of its own? If so, then what kind of policy, and why not be transparent then as well?