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UN human rights expert: CIA drone strikes violate laws of war

"The CIA, by definition, is not accountable"

The use of drones by U.S. intelligence agencies to target suspected militants in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere lacks the accountability required under international law, a U.N. human rights expert said Friday.

Philip Alston, a New York University law professor, will call next week for new international rules to govern the use of drones to ensure they are deployed in line with the laws of war.

The CIA's program of drone strikes against suspected al-Qaida and Taliban insurgents has never been publicly acknowledged by U.S. administration officials, even though it has been written about extensively in the media.

A CIA spokesman said last month that the intelligence agency's counterterror operations are conducted in strict accord with the law.

"In my view there is no legal prohibition on CIA agents, or you and me, deciding to take a 'direct part in hostilities,' which is not to say that it is desirable," Alston told The Associated Press in an e-mail Friday.

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