Columbans are very concerned with the lack of clarity and transparency in the U.S. government’s justification for lethal drone strikes. The Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) was passed by the Congress on September 14, 2001, three days after 9/11. It authorizes the U.S. armed forces to take military action against those responsible for the attacks on September 11, 2001. President Obama promised to end the (AUMF), but instead he continues to use it to carry out targeted drone strikes, with almost no clarity and transparency.
To build upon efforts made by Columban Fathers Finbar Maxwell and Tomas King in 2012, we and our partners in the faith community visited the office of Congressman Alan Grayson to advocate for the end of U.S. targeted drone strikes and the end of the AUMF. We met with Congressman Grayson’s legislation aide for this issue. We discussed the moral and legal concerns about targeted drone strikes, and asked the Congressman to support ending the AUMF.
As an intern, this was my first legislative visit to a Congressman’s office. Despite the meeting being very short and concise, it addressed the fundamental concerns of Columban Fathers, who have long served in Pakistan, where the majority of people killed by U.S. targeted drone strikes live.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops estimates the number of Pakistanis killed by drone strikes ranges from 1,600 to over 2,600 during the period 2004-2011. During the meeting, our Advocacy Associate, Elizabeth Nye, shared that the Columban Fathers living in Pakistan have witnessed a rise in anti-Western and anti-Christian sentiment since civilians are sometimes killed or injured by the U.S. government.