Washington, DC (March 6, 2019) – Today the Trump Administration revoked a policy requirement to publicly report civilian harm resulting from US lethal strikes that occur outside of active hostilities. In response to today’s Executive Order, CIVIC Executive Director Federico Borello issued the following statement:

“Although public reporting about civilian casualties resulting from US military operations has improved over the last two years, information about where other agencies of the U.S. government conduct lethal strikes, and how many people are killed as a result, has always been, and remains a significant blind spot.

“The truth of the matter is that the Administration hasn’t fulfilled this now-stricken reporting requirement at any time since taking office, and the prior administration’s reporting also left much to be desired. Today’s change makes the likelihood of the public ever knowing if such strikes are occurring and what impact they are having on civilians even more remote. At this point, Congress may have to accommodate for the lack of White House leadership in the same way it did for military operations, by establishing clear reporting parameters for all government agencies.

“We welcome the fact that the administration has kept in force the remainder of the executive order, but we worry that removing a major provision will send a signal that civilian casualties are a lower priority for the President of the United States, leading not only to a further erosion of public transparency, but also the weakening of internal controls designed to prevent casualties that apply across the government.”

Background:

Executive Order 13732 (United States Policy on Pre- and Post-Strike Measures To Address Civilian Casualties in U.S. Operations Involving the Use of Force) was enacted by President Obama on July 16, 2016. Section 3 of the EO required a public report summarizing the number of strikes and the estimated number of combatant and non-combatant deaths that occurred as a result. The last report was released by the Obama administration on January 20, 2017, and acknowledged one non-combatant fatality resulting from 53 strikes outside of areas of active hostilities during the entire year of 2016.