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Senate committee hearings will address drone privacy issues and targeted killings

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The US Senate Committee on the Judiciary has called two hearings on the most controversial uses of unmanned aerial vehicles. The hearings, chaired by Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), will address both privacy concerns raised by drone use within the US and what limits can be placed on targeted killings, often using drones. While some details have not yet been released, the hearings seem to be responding both to general concern over drone use and to a 12-hour filibuster by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) in protest of Obama's drone warfare program.

The first hearing, led by Leahy, is titled "The Future of Drones in America: Law Enforcement and Privacy Considerations" and will be held on March 20th. It will focus on whether drone surveillance, particularly by law enforcement or emergency responders, could erode privacy and civil liberties. While the FAA is currently devising guidelines for the use of unmanned planes in US airspace and police across the country have considered drones as remote surveillance devices, privacy concerns have sparked a social and legislative backlash.

Domestic surveillance and "the constitutional and statutory authority for targeted killings."

The second hearing, "Drone Wars: The Constitutional and Counterterrorism Implications of Targeted Killing," will be chaired by Durbin and held on April 16th. It's meant to address the Obama Administration's targeted killing program, which has been the subject of debate since a leaked memo provided some details in February. The hearing will "focus on the constitutional and statutory authority for targeted killings; the scope of the battlefield and who can be targeted as a combatant; and establishing a transparent legal framework for the use of drones."