WASHINGTON — Congressional Democrats on Thursday urged President Biden to overtake his counterterrorism technique and focusing on standards for drone strikes, citing grave issues about “repeated civilian casualties arising from secretive and unaccountable deadly operations.”

The letter got here a day after The New York Occasions published newly declassified surveillance footage offering extra particulars in regards to the last minutes and aftermath of a botched drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan, in August that killed 10 harmless civilians, together with seven kids. Eleven senators and 39 members of the Home, led by Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Christopher S. Murphy of Connecticut, cited that strike as “emblematic of this systemic failure that has persevered throughout many years and administrations.”

“When there may be little coverage change or accountability for repeated errors this grave and this pricey,” the senators wrote, “it sends a message all through the U.S. armed forces and all the U.S. authorities that civilian deaths — together with deaths the place there was no navy goal — are the inevitable consequence of contemporary battle, somewhat than avoidable and damaging failures of coverage.”

The letter, which was additionally led by Consultant Ro Khanna of California, was a stinging rebuke of the administration’s present insurance policies amid rising proof of recurring episodes over a number of administrations by which civilian bystanders have been killed throughout drone strikes. And it got here as prime officers in Mr. Biden’s administration had been engaged on a new policy governing drone warfare away from traditional battlefields.

“We can’t ignore the horrible penalties of U.S. drone strikes over a number of administrations,” Ms. Warren stated in a press release. “I’ve lengthy pushed for better accountability for civilian casualties, and the president ought to seize this second to systematically reform our counterterrorism technique.”

Hours earlier than lawmakers despatched their letter to Mr. Biden, new reporting showed {that a} top-secret U.S. Particular Operations unit struck Syria’s greatest dam utilizing a few of the largest typical bombs within the U.S. arsenal, regardless of a navy report warning to not bomb the dam as a result of the injury may trigger a flood which may kill tens of 1000’s of civilians.

The Protection Division has lengthy stated that it tries to attenuate civilian casualties. However Protection Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III conceded in November that the military needed to do more to prevent them, days after an investigation by The Occasions revealed that prime officers had sought to hide a U.S. airstrike in Syria in 2019 that killed dozens of ladies and youngsters.

Separate investigations, counting on the navy’s personal confidential assessments of more than 1,300 reports of civilian casualties obtained by The Occasions, confirmed that the air marketing campaign towards the Islamic State was marked by flawed intelligence, affirmation bias and scant accountability. Officers usually dismissed allegations of civilian casualties with little analysis, together with failures to conduct simple internet searches.

“When U.S. strikes kill civilians overseas, it’s each an ethical failure and nationwide safety legal responsibility,” Mr. Murphy stated. “There’s little question Biden takes this problem extra severely than Trump, however we are able to and should do higher. The U.S. ought to use power solely lawfully and as a final resort, and when civilians die, there needs to be accountability. That accountability merely has not been taking place.”

Efforts by the Biden administration to recalibrate the nation’s insurance policies governing drone strikes, consistent with a broader effort by the president to wind down the conflict on terrorism, were complicated late this summer as Kabul fell to the Taliban, rendering the plans for Afghanistan out of date. The method was meant to final only some months, however after a yr of drafts, deliberations and high-level conferences, it stays uncompleted.

Lawmakers, together with Ms. Warren and Mr. Khanna, have previously pressed the Pentagon to account for vital undercounts of civilian casualties. And Congress accepted a provision on this yr’s protection coverage invoice requiring Pentagon officers to submit a lot of stories, together with on the division’s insurance policies regarding civilian casualties ensuing from U.S. navy operations.

“The continuation of established order insurance policies which have flouted govt and congressional oversight and resulted in devastatingly excessive numbers of civilian casualties would run opposite to the Biden administration’s commitments to finish our eternally wars, and promote human rights and our core democratic values,” they wrote in Thursday’s letter.