US President Donald Trump has issued a new executive order according to which American intelligence officials will no longer be required to publicly disclose the number of civilians killed in airstrikes against terrorist targets.
Trump’s order on Wednesday lifts an Obama-era mandate for intelligence professionals to provide an “unclassified summary of the number of strikes” as well as “assessments of combatant and non combatant deaths resulting from those strikes” each year, reports CNN.
The White House said the order was not an effort to decrease transparency about casualties resulting from US strikes.
“The US government is fully committed to complying with its obligations under the law of armed conflict, minimising, to the greatest extent possible, civilian causalities, and acknowledging responsibility when they unfortunately occur during military operations,” a National Security Council spokesperson told CNN in a statement.
Instead, the administration argued that the measure was intended to streamline the process by eliminating “superfluous reporting requirements”.
The Pentagon released its fiscal year 2017 report on June 1, 2018, and plans to release the 2018 report on May 1.
The manuary 2017 report released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence had said the “US government” conducted 54 strikes outside of Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan during 2016, resulting in one civilian death.
The Secretary of Defence is legally required to provide a similar report and will continue to do so despite Wednesday’s executive order.
However, the report pertains solely to US military operations in places like Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia and Libya.