UNITED NATIONS - In the aftermath of news that 35 Pakistanis have been killed so far this year by unmanned US drones Congressman Keith Ellison, the first Muslim to be elected to the House of Representatives, Monday called on Congress to play a role in reforming existing policy governing the machines.Ellison, a Democrat, addressed the matter in an opinion piece published in The Washington Post, noting that drones have yielded positive results for the military. Still, he said it’s time for Congress to “exercise oversight and craft policies that govern the use of lethal force.”“The heart of the problem is that our technological capability has far surpassed our policy. As things stand, the executive branch exercises unilateral authority over drone strikes against terrorists abroad. In some cases, President Obama approves each strike himself through ‘kill lists’.” he wrote. “While the President should be commended for creating explicit rules for the use of drones, unilateral kill lists are unseemly and fraught with hazards.”Though he doesn’t argue against a drone’s ability to produce results, Ellison also questions how the attacks could influence global perceptions of the United States, particularly citing Pakistan, where most strikes have occurred.  “Drone strikes may well contribute to the extremism and terrorism,“ he writes.Ellison wrote, “US drone use has also lowered the threshold for the use of lethal force in foreign countries. Would we fire so many missiles into Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia if doing so required sending US troops into harm’s way? Our drone policy must be guided by more than capability. It must be guided by respect for noncombatants, necessity and urgency.“It is Congress’s responsibility to exercise oversight and craft policies that govern the use of lethal force. But lawmakers have yet to hold a single hearing examining US drone policy. Any rules must provide adequate transparency, respect the rule of law, conform with international standards and prudently advance US national security over the long term.“In codifying a legal framework to guide executive action on drone strikes, Congress should consider these steps:“First, we must do more to avoid innocent civilian casualties. The Geneva Conventions, which have governed the rules of war since World War II, distinguish between combatants and noncombatants in the conduct of hostilities and state that civilian casualties are not acceptable except in cases of demonstrated military necessity. This is the standard we must follow.“Second, Congress must require an independent judicial review of any executive-branch “kill list.” The US legal system is based on the principle that one branch of government should not have absolute authority. Congress should object to that concentration of power, especially when it may be used against US citizens. A process of judicial review would diffuse executive power and provide a mechanism for greater oversight.“Third, the United States must collaborate with the international community to develop a widely accepted set of legal standards. No country — not even our allies — accepts the U.S. legal justification for targeted killings. Our justification must rest on the concept of self-defence, which would allow the United States to protect itself against any imminent threat. Any broader criteria would create the opportunity for abuse and set a dangerous standard for other countries to follow, which could harm long-term US security interests.“The United States will not always enjoy a monopoly on sophisticated drone technology he wrote. “The Iranian-made drone that Hezbollah recently flew over Israel should compel us to think about the far-reaching implications of current policy. A just, internationally accepted protocol on the use of drones in warfare is needed. By creating and abiding by our own set of reasonable standards, the United States will demonstrate to the world that we believe in the rule of law.”