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Category Archives: Targeted Killing: Drones

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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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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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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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.  

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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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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Report of the Stimson Center Task Force on Drone Policy

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Thursday, June 26, 2014 at 3:27 PM

The Stimson Center released today the report of its Task Force on US Drone Policy.  The ten-member task force, of which I was a member, was chaired by General John Abizaid and Rosa Brooks.   The report makes eight recommendations for overhauling US drone strategy; improving oversight, accountability, transparency and clarifying the international legal framework applicable . . .
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Why Imminence? The Assassinations Ban and that OLC Al-Aulaqi Memo

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Thursday, June 26, 2014 at 1:44 PM

The other day, I tried to read the tea leaves and figure out where the notion of “imminent threat” comes from in the administration’s legal views of targeted killing. I speculated that the source of the “imminent” threat standard may well be language in the presidential covert action findings authorizing the CIA’s broad campaign against Al Qaeda . . .
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A Clue About the Origins of “Imminence” in the OLC Memo?

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at 10:37 AM

There’s a lot to discuss about the OLC memo on the al-Aulaqi strike—including, as Ben mentioned yesterday, the origins and significance of “imminence.”  (There’s also excellent analysis over at Just Security, which I recommend to interested readers.) Throughout the OLC memo’s 41 pages, the much-scrutinized term appears several times, often as part of a phrase: “continued and . . .
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Whence Imminence in that Drone Memo? A Puzzle and a Theory

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014 at 11:19 AM

On May 27, a unanimous Supreme Court—to little notice from just about anyone—handed down a case called Plumhoff v. Rickard, which dealt with a police shooting and a claim of excessive force during a high-speed car chase. Donald Rickard had led police in Arkansas on a highway chase, at the end of which officers shot him and . . .
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The Al-Aulaqi OLC Memo: A Quick and Dirty Summary

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Monday, June 23, 2014 at 4:07 PM

I have this feeling that a lot of people are going to mischaracterize the just-released OLC memo on the Anwar Al-Aulaqi strike. Just a guess. So before expressing any opinions on the subject or arguing with anyone about it, I thought I would start things out with a straight summary of the memo, which I am writing . . .
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Second Circuit Releases Redacted OLC Drone Memo

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Monday, June 23, 2014 at 3:07 PM

The Second Circuit has just released a redacted version of the OLC Drone Memo–here is the memo; here is the panel’s full, revised April 21, 2014 decision with the memo appended at page 67. You’ll recall that back in April, a three-judge panel (comprising Judges Newman, Cabranes and Pooler) reversed a lower court decision dismissing the ACLU’s suit for release . . .
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Readings: The Diffusion of Drone Warfare: Industrial, Infrastructural and Organizational Constraints by Andrea Gilli and Mauro Gilli

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014 at 7:27 PM

Political science graduate students Andrea Gilli (European Union Institute, Florence) and Mauro Gilli (Northwestern University, Evanston) have posted a new and provocative paper to SSRN–“The Diffusion of Drone Warfare: Industrial, Infrastructural and Organizational Constraints.” I read this paper when first posted to SSRN some weeks back, but I waited to discuss it in a Readings post . . .
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Mike Lewis on the Lack of an IHL Transparency Requirement for Drone Strikes

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Monday, June 2, 2014 at 3:05 PM

Professor Mike Lewis (Ohio Northern University’s Pettit College of Law) writes in with the following guest post: There Is No Transparency Requirement for Drone Operations Critics of drones have frequently characterized them as being illegal weapons, or at least weapons that were being used in an illegal manner. Much of the initial opposition was driven . . .
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