U.S. military officials are pushing for the ability to publicly defend the practice of American drone strikes from critics in the United States and across the globe, according to defense officials.
The Wall Street Journal reports that in coming days, a proposal calling for more transparency is to be presented to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. The issue has reportedly arisen after the military concluded that secrecy surrounding drone operation has bolstered support for Al Qaeda in parts of the Middle East.
If Defense Secretary Hagel approved the proposal, it would then be sent to the National Security Council for consideration.
Some U.S. officials however are concerned that greater transparency would lead to restrictions on the nation’s ability to conduct covert operations overseas, and would require an operational shift of authority from the CIA to the Pentagon, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Any such policy shift would also need to take into account U.S. allies. Although Yemen has become more open to discussing drones and its partnership with the U.S., other allies prefer to avoid drawing attention to their co-operation with the U.S., defense officials said.
Drone strikes have become an increasingly controversial issue in recent years internationally and among civil-liberties groups at home, brought into focus by the 2011 killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen and radical Islamic militant, and three other Americans in strikes.
In 2013, President Obama promised a review of drone programs and signaled greater openness in discussing overseas strikes.
Caitlin Hayden, the National Security Council spokeswoman, said the administration is looking at how they can provide the public with more information about the use of force in counterterrorism operations. Hayden said the White House wants to provide the public with "a better understanding of U.S. assessments of civilian casualties."