The document will be submitted to US President Barack Obama within weeks for final approval, the Washington Post reported on Saturday.
A US official involved in drafting the manual -- described as a counterterrorism “playbook” - who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the document “will be done shortly.”
According to the Washington Post report, some of the subjects covered in the manual are “the process for adding names to kill lists, the legal principles that govern when US citizens can be targeted overseas and the sequence of approvals required when the CIA or US military conducts drone strikes outside war zones.”
Pundits say the decision to draft the counterterrorism manual marks a turning point, since it is an attempt to “legalize” and “legitimize” targeted killings.
According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, between 2,629 and 3,461 people have been killed in US assassination drone attacks in Pakistan since 2004, and between 475 and 891 of the victims were civilians.
Despite the Pakistani government’s repeated calls for Washington to end the drone attacks, the US government continues to launch strikes on the tribal areas of the country, which has strained relations between the two allies.
Washington claims its drone strikes target militants, although casualty figures show that many of the victims of the attacks are civilians, including a large number of women and children.
In September 2012, a report by the Stanford Law School and the New York University School of Law gave an alarming account of the effect that assassination drone strikes have on ordinary people in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
“The number of ‘high-level’ targets killed as a percentage of total casualties is extremely low -- estimated at just 2%,” the report noted.