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Category Archives: Targeted Killing

Drone Strike Errors and the Hostage Tragedy: Mapping the Issues in the Newly-Catalyzed Debate?

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Friday, April 24, 2015 at 2:57 PM

The use of lethal force (whether via armed drone, manned aircraft, cruise missile, helicopter assault, etc.) has been a cornerstone of U.S. counterterrorism policy for many years, both in places where we have ground combat deployments and places where we do not. Throughout this period, the legality, efficacy, wisdom, and morality of this practice has . . .
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Another Response on Harold Koh

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Thursday, April 23, 2015 at 8:19 PM

Yesterday, I published this correspondence from a government lawyer who thought I had been unfair to Harold Koh in describing his role at the State Department as being “obstructionist” with respect to the drone program. Here’s another response I received, this one from someone else who observed the process and who agrees with my characterization—though . . .
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A Response on Harold Koh

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015 at 1:26 PM

I received the following email from a government lawyer who was involved in the drone strike discussions about my post yesterday about Harold Koh’s role in those discussions: I think your characterization of Harold as “obstructionist” is unfair. I often disagreed with him, but I have no doubt that he was endeavoring to put on . . .
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Targeting AQAP’s Mufti Ibrahim al-Rubaysh

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015 at 9:42 AM

Last Wednesday, the New York Times brought us the news that a U.S. drone strike had killed Ibrahim al-Rubaysh—allegedly a top ideologue, spokesman, and operational planner for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. In a post over on Just Security, NYU Law Professor Ryan Goodman asked, “is a cleric like al-Rubaysh a legitimate military target?” It . . .
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The Strange Case of Harold Koh at NYU

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015 at 1:16 AM

I would normally lay off writing about the flap that has erupted at NYU over Harold Koh’s presence there. Academic politics don’t interest me much. Student protests interest me even less. And student protests based on false facts that, in turn, lead to academics piously leaping to the defense of one another’s virtues and students . . .
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Open Society Justice Initiative Issues New Report on U.S. Drone Strikes in Yemen

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015 at 3:16 PM

The Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) has released a new report that documents civilian casualties caused by U.S. drone strikes in Yemen. According to the authors, the report, entitled Death By Drone, uses nine case studies to explore whether the Obama administration kept its promise that “there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured.” . . .
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The New York Times’s Latest Kill List Story

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Monday, April 13, 2015 at 8:35 AM

The New York Times this morning has a story on the internal debate within the administration over whether to capture or kill a U.S. citizen terrorism suspect now facing charges in federal court in New York: A Texas-born man suspected of being an operative for Al Qaeda stood before a federal judge in Brooklyn this month. Two years . . .
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New Abbottabad Documents Released in Trial of Abid Naseer

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Thursday, March 12, 2015 at 12:56 PM

In the trial of Abid Naseer, the U.S. Department of Justice released a trove of new files recovered from Osama bin Laden’s compound during the May 2011 raid by U.S. Navy Seals that ended in his death. Seventeen of the documents were released in 2012. Those previously released documents painted a picture of a bin . . .
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Safe Havens Still Matter

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015 at 9:13 PM

Micah Zenko and Amelia M. Wolf, both with the Council on Foreign Relations, have a new piece in Foreign Policy which argues against the “myth” that safe havens allow terrorists a space in which to flourish. They claim that this myth has only led us fruitlessly abroad in search of monsters to destroy. It’s a stunning . . .
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On the Tired War v. Law Enforcement Distinction

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Saturday, January 10, 2015 at 2:07 PM

I agree with much of what Wells says in response to Bryan Cunningham’s piece on War v. Crime, but thought I would add my two cents. It is not fair to say, as Bryan does, that the attacks in France were a “consequence” of a return to a “largely law enforcement approach to terrorism” by . . .
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Rules of Engagement for the War in Afghanistan in 2015

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014 at 10:44 AM

As reported in an article in the New York Times back on November 21, President Obama recently decided to expand the set of circumstances in which the U.S. military might use force in Afghanistan during 2015. What is the precise nature of that expansion, so far as we can tell from that story? Or put . . .
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CIA, Drone Strikes, and Public Authority: Responding to Kevin Heller

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 11:36 PM

Kevin Heller and I have been debating whether the CIA drone strike targeting Anwar al-Aulaqi violated 18 USC 1119, which makes it a felony to kill American citizens overseas (to be clear, our exchange has not extended to Due Process Clause questions or to international law questions such as whether that attack related to a . . .
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DOD Confirms Death of Ahmed Godane

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Friday, September 5, 2014 at 12:12 PM

The White House has just released a statement confirming the death of Ahmed Godane, the leader of Al Shabaab in Somalia. According to the statement, the U.S. military targeted Godane in a successful air strike last weekend. The full statement is below: Today, the Department of Defense confirmed that Ahmed Godane, the leader of al-Shabaab, . . .
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Another Clue on Anwar Al-Aulaqi

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014 at 2:23 PM

A few weeks ago, I wrote a pair of posts analyzing where the notion of imminence comes from in the government’s thinking about targeted killing—and in David Barron’s OLC memo on the Al-Aulaqi strike. In one, I wrote: I am speculating, and I could well be wrong. But I think the source of law for imminence in . . .
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February 2010 OLC Opinion on the Al-Aulaqi Strike and the CIA

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Friday, August 15, 2014 at 9:41 PM

Here it is. The seven-page, heavily redacted legal analysis was apparently released earlier today, as a consequence of the FOIA action brought by the New York Times and the ACLU.  

U.S. Air Strikes in Iraq Begin

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Friday, August 8, 2014 at 9:44 AM

The Pentagon tweets that the U.S. military has begun airstrikes against Islamic State (IS) positions in Iraq.  Precisely, force has been deployed against IS artillery that was used “against Kurdish forces defending Erbil, near US personnel.”  I have not yet seen a clear explanation of the domestic legal basis for the strikes, but the mention . . .
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U.S. Forces Said to Have Bombed ISIS Targets in Iraq

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Thursday, August 7, 2014 at 5:20 PM

The New York Times is reporting that, according to Kurdish officials, American forces have bombed ISIS targets in Iraq: American military forces bombed at least two targets in northern Iraq on Thursday night to rout Islamist insurgents who have trapped tens of thousands of religious minorities in Kurdish areas, Kurdish officials said. Word of the bombings, . . .
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Reading the AUMF Tea Leaves, 2002 Edition

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Monday, July 28, 2014 at 12:42 PM

Nowadays figuring out what sort of post-2001 AUMF authority the White House wants is a bit of a tea leaf-reading exercise. Potentially relevant to it are the events of last Friday concerning the 2002 AUMF, which Congress passed in advance of the Iraq war. Friday evening saw the House’s approval of H. Con. Res. 105, a concurrent . . .
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More Machinations in Second Circuit Targeted Killing FOIA Litigation

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Thursday, July 24, 2014 at 2:02 PM

The release last month of the Al-Aulaqi Office of Legal Counsel memo, it turns out, was not the end of the Second Circuit litigation regarding the New York Times and ACLU’s FOIA requests for information on the government’s targeted killing programs. A petition for rehearing en banc is still pending. And yesterday, the Justice Department, the Pentagon, and . . .
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Readings: Civilian Intelligence Agencies and the Use of Armed Drones by Ian Henderson

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Friday, June 27, 2014 at 3:00 PM

Footnote 44 of the recently released and much-discussed OLC Awlaki memorandum is heavily redacted, but what’s left reads, in part: Nor would the fact that CIA personnel would be involved in the operation itself cause the operation to violate the laws of war. It is true that CIA personnel, by virtue of their not being part of . . .
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