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Trump revoked the rule requiring the U.S. to report civilians killed in drone strikes

Trump weakened a rule that required the government to make public its estimate of civilian casualties due to airstrikes in non-conventional war zones.

Trump weakened a rule that required the government to make public its estimate of civilian casualties due to airstrikes in non-conventional war zones.In March 2019, U.S. President Donald Trump revoked a disclosure requirement of a law that President Barack Obama imposed in July 2016. The law required U.S. intelligence officials to publicly disclose the numbers of people killed in drone strikes and other attacks on terrorist targets outside of war zones. The order signed by Trump revoked the requirement that the administration release an unclassified summary of "the number of strikes undertaken by the United States government against terrorist targets outside areas of active hostilities, as well as assessments of combatant and noncombatant deaths resulting from those strikes, among other information," reported NBC. Trump's executive order left in place other aspects of Obama’s directive that require the government to make a priority of preventing civilian casualties.

Obama had put in place a set of rules designed to promote accountability and encourage policymakers to minimize civilian casualties. The reporting requirement was the first-ever effort by the U.S. government to account for how many people were killed in targeted strikes in places such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

However, Trump's order is an implicit acknowledgment of a decision his administration had already taken in practice: The director of national intelligence never put out a report about bystander casualties in 2017, even though the Obama-era order requiring one remained on the books when the report was due out. Moreover, when Trump took the decision, "the C.I.A. was carrying out fewer drone strikes than it did during the height of the Obama administration’s counterterrorism operations," reported the New York Times. And, "even when the Obama administration revealed the official assessment of how many civilians had died, those numbers were merely a vague range and lower than estimates by other organizations like the Long War Journal, the Washington-based security policy organization New America and the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism," reported the New York Times.

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