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Rights Groups Call on Trump to Reveal Secret New Policy on Deadly Drone Strikes

© Photo : US Air Force / Airman 1st Class Steven (left) and Airman 1st Class Taylor prepare an MQ-9 Reaper for flight during exercise Combat Hammer, May 15, 2014, at Creech Air Force Base, Nev. Reaper crews flew a week-long mission, where they released the GBU-12 Paveway II and AGM-114 Hellfire munitions. Steven and Taylor are MQ-9 Reaper crew chiefs from the 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.
Airman 1st Class Steven (left) and Airman 1st Class Taylor prepare an MQ-9 Reaper for flight during exercise Combat Hammer, May 15, 2014, at Creech Air Force Base, Nev. Reaper crews flew a week-long mission, where they released the GBU-12 Paveway II and AGM-114 Hellfire munitions. Steven and Taylor are MQ-9 Reaper crew chiefs from the 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. - Sputnik International
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Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties’ Union and a host of other human rights watchdogs have called on US President Donald Trump to reveal how his administration has changed the terms authorizing use of lethal force from a remotely piloted aircraft.

In October, the New York Times reported that the administration had scrapped Obama-era drone strike policies, formalized in the 2013 Presidential Policy Guidance (PPG), in favor of the new Principles, Standards and Procedures document.

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"We are deeply concerned that the reported new policy, combined with this administration's reported dramatic increase in lethal operations in Yemen and Somalia, will lead to an increase in unlawful killings and in civilian casualties," a joint NGO statement signed by 13 groups reads. The statement was published by Amnesty International March 8.

"Several months have passed since those changes were reported, but the Trump Administration has yet to release or explain its new lethal force policy," according to the letter signed by such groups as the ACLU, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty and the Interfaith Network on Drone Warfare.

In total, 13 NGOs signed the statement demanding the United States government to "disclose its policies governing the use of lethal force, including armed drones, the legal framework that it applies to its operations in each country and all legal memoranda setting forth the basis for particular strikes."

The policy change can be more than a matter of life or death for terrorist groups. If the NGOs are correct in reporting that Trump's White House has helped escalate the level of killing and despair in Yemen, then this provides more support for the chorus of voices saying the US is complicit in the continuation of what the UN characterizes as the "worst" humanitarian crisis the world has seen in five decades. The US already provides intelligence used in Saudi bombing campaigns and refuels the Saudi coalition's warplanes.

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Last October, the World Bank reported that "violent conflict in Yemen has caused a dramatic deterioration of the economic and social conditions in the country." While reliable official data has been hard to come by since the Tehran-Riyadh proxy war in Yemen intensified in 2015, the international financial institution says that "evidence suggests Yemen's GDP contracted by about 37.5 percent cumulatively since 2015."

For perspective, the Wall Street Journal reported in 2015 that the the Great Depression pushed global GDP down by about 15 percent between 1929 and 1932, while the Great Recession resulted in a global GDP drop of less than 1 percent from 2008 to 2009.

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