Dear Chairman Inhofe, Chairman Smith, and Ranking Member Reed, and Ranking Member Thornberry:

We, the undersigned human rights, civil liberties, transparency, and faith-based organizations, write to urge you to support measures introduced in the House and Senate versions of the Fiscal Year 2020 NDAA that would strengthen, clarify, and supplement transparency and oversight requirements related to U.S. lethal strikes and resulting civilian casualties without leading to the disclosure of properly classified information or imposing overly burdensome or unnecessary requirements.

Over the last two years, Congress has made considerable progress, on a bipartisan and bicameral basis, in enhancing transparency and oversight regarding the use of lethal force and resulting civilian casualties. But problematic gaps remain, and several measures introduced in both the Senate and House versions of the Fiscal Year 2020 NDAA would help address many of these gaps. Through these measures, Congress will be able to conduct more effective oversight of the policies, practices, and human and national security consequences of U.S. military operations. In addition to robust Congressional oversight, public transparency around the use of lethal force is critical to independent scrutiny of casualty assessments, assessing the lawfulness of operations, providing redress for victims and their family members, and ensuring accountability for any violations of the law. And, critically, transparency enables the public to be informed about some of the most important policy choices the government makes in its name – ones that involve life and death decisions. Ultimately, such transparency can enhance the legitimacy of government actions. Unwarranted secrecy, by contrast, heightens existing concerns and creates new ones.

Conferees to the Fiscal Year 2020 NDAA should ensure that the final bill includes provisions that address the following critical issues: 


 American Civil Liberties Union

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee

Amnesty International USA

Campaign for Accountability

Center for Civilians in Conflict

Coalition for Peace Action

Defending Rights & Dissent

Foreign Policy for America

Friends Committee on National Legislation

Government Information Watch

Human Rights First

Human Rights Watch

Interfaith Network on Drone Warfare

National Religious Campaign Against Torture

Open the Government

Peace Action

R Street Institute

September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows

The United Methodist Church- General Board of Church and Society

Win Without War

[1] Because of varying organizational mandates, not all of the undersigned organizations take a position on this provision.

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