Skip to content

Category Archives: Targeted Killing: Drones

A Summary of Friday’s Decision in al-Aulaqi v. Panetta

By
Monday, April 7, 2014 at 1:19 PM

As Ben mentioned on Friday, Judge Rosemary Collyer of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed a Bivens suit brought by the families of Anwar al-Aulaqi, his son Abdulrahman, and Samir Khan—three U.S. citizens killed in U.S. drone strikes in 2011—seeking to hold various federal officials personally liable for their roles in . . .
Read more »

Judge Collyer Throws Out Al-Aulaqi Bivens Suit

By
Friday, April 4, 2014 at 6:05 PM

Judge Rosemary Collyer of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has thrown out the Bivens suit by the families of Anwar Al-Aulaqi and his son, and Samir Khan, all of whom were U.S. citizens killed in drone drikes in Yemen. Here’s the 41-page opinion. It opens: Because Anwar Al-Aulaqi was a terrorist leader of . . .
Read more »

Drone Strikes in Yemen Accelerating Lately…But What If Anything Does It Signify?

By
Friday, March 14, 2014 at 6:28 PM

Worth noting: There have been four reported drone strikes in Yemen over the past two weeks.  Long War Journal provides the details on the latest one here; LWJ’s drone coverage in general is simply invaluable, particularly as mainstream media sources tend not to show much interest in particular strikes in Yemen.  Note that the recent . . .
Read more »

Intelligence Squared US Debate: “The President Has Constitutional Power To Target And Kill U.S. Citizens Abroad”

By
Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 9:50 PM

For the Motion: Alan Dershowitz, Professor of Law, Harvard Law School Michael Lewis, Professor of Law, Ohio Northern University School of Law Against the Motion: Noah Feldman, Professor of Law, Harvard Law School Hina Shamsi, Director of the ACLU National Security Project President Has Constitutional Power to Target Americans from Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates on FORA.tv The results are . . .
Read more »

Reflections on the Chatham House Autonomy Conference

By
Monday, March 3, 2014 at 5:34 PM

Chatham House recently held a conference on autonomous military technologies, the focus of which was really the current debate regarding autonomous weapon systems. Kudos to Chatham House for leaning forward in this critical area and for bringing together the right mix of people for an engaging and productive conference. The event was held under Chatham . . .
Read more »

U.N. Special Rapporteur Releases New Report on Drone Use

By
Friday, February 28, 2014 at 3:31 PM

Ben Emmerson, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, has released a report in the course of his investigation into the use of drones. The summary reads as follows: This is the third annual report submitted to the Human Rights Council by the Special Rapporteur on . . .
Read more »

The Clear and Convincing Standard and Citizen Drone Strikes

By
Friday, February 28, 2014 at 3:14 PM

When last we debated the Government’s legal authority to kill an American terrorist overseas, some big-ticket questions had to do with proof: exactly how much evidence would be required before executive branch officials would approve a lethal drone strike against U.S. citizen?  And what sorts of proof would suffice, in establishing a target’s stature in . . .
Read more »

What is the Point of the New Drone Targeting Rules?

By
Friday, February 28, 2014 at 8:33 AM

Another tidbit from the NYT story Ben just flagged: It is unclear what Mr. Obama’s position is on whether Mr. Shami should be targeted.  American officials said that as part of the new rules ordered by Mr. Obama, the Pentagon, rather than the C.I.A., is supposed to carry out any lethal strike against an American . . .
Read more »

Who is the American the U.S. May Be Targeting Overseas?

By
Friday, February 28, 2014 at 7:31 AM

The New York Times has the answer—sort of: WASHINGTON — He is known as Abdullah al-Shami, an Arabic name meaning Abdullah the Syrian. But his nom de guerre masks a reality: He was born in the United States, and the United States is now deciding whether to kill him. Mr. Shami, a militant who American . . .
Read more »

Reactions to Stories on Possible New U.S. Citizen Strike

By
Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 7:18 AM

Some thoughts on this morning’s drone strike news (NYT, WSJ). The NYT says that President Obama’s announcement last May of an intention “to gradually shift drone operations from the C.I.A. to the Pentagon” was designed in part “to make them more transparent.”  The theory, I think, was that CIA strikes are covert and cannot be . . .
Read more »

U.S. Citizen Possibly Targeted for Drone Attack

By
Monday, February 10, 2014 at 9:42 AM

Kimberly Dozier AP reports this morning that “[a]n American citizen who is a member of al-Qaida is actively planning attacks against Americans overseas, . . . and the Obama administration is wrestling with whether to kill him with a drone strike and how to do so legally under its new stricter targeting policy issued last year.” . . .
Read more »

Are Armed Drones Anything Strategically New?

By
Tuesday, February 4, 2014 at 4:12 PM

Strategika, a Hoover Institution online journal edited by Victor Davis Hanson, has published a symposium on whether armed drones are strategically something new, or just an incremental step forward in remote platform weapon systems.  Ben and I have a brief contribution to the issue, taken mostly from Chapter 3 of Speaking the Law, our book . . .
Read more »

A Proposal for Targeted Killing Oversight by Ex-AG Alberto Gonzales, and a Response by Steve

By
Tuesday, February 4, 2014 at 10:01 AM

Here are two quite recent papers, both of obvious interest to Lawfare readers.  The first, entitled “Drones: the Power to Kill,” was penned by former Attorney Alberto Gonzales.  Among other things, Gonzales recommends oversight procedures for targeted killings of American citizens.   The second piece is a response to Gonzales’ article, by our own Steve . . .
Read more »

Low-Intensity Conflict in Africa: French and American Uses of Force in Recent Days

By
Monday, January 27, 2014 at 1:00 PM

Remember Mali?  We don’t hear much about it these days, but it still suffers from the presence of armed groups of Islamist extremists in the north, and the French military is still there and using force from time to time.  The most recent example occurred just a few days ago, when the French used both . . .
Read more »

Congressional Control of Intelligence Programs (sometimes)

By
Sunday, January 26, 2014 at 7:03 PM

In the last ten days, an interesting controversy has bubbled up over congressional control of the drone program.  The quarrel, which has been both internal to the Senate and between the Congress and the Executive, raises some important issues regarding Congress’s ability to control controversial but classified programs (such as the current drone program and . . .
Read more »

Lt. Col. Matthew Atkins on “The Personal Nature of War in High Definition”

By
Sunday, January 26, 2014 at 2:00 PM

I met Matthew Atkins, a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force, recently at the Hoover Institution, where he is currently a military fellow. Lt. Col. Atkins has worked in targeting and intelligence a fair bit. And following some conversations at Hoover, he sent me this brief essay, whose conclusions and opinions are those of the author . . .
Read more »

Eugene Robinson Gets it Wrong on Drones

By
Tuesday, December 3, 2013 at 7:53 AM

Over at the Washington Post, columnist Eugene Robinson has a piece decrying the morality of drone strikes—a piece that expresses with an admirable economy of words nearly every conceptual error one can make on the subject. Let’s dissect. The problems begin right at the top, where Robinson begins by conceding that “U.S. drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan . . .
Read more »

How Does the President’s Policy on Lethal Force Apply in Yemen Today?

By
Wednesday, November 20, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Long War Journal reports an airstrike on three AQAP fighters in Hadramout, Yemen, earlier today.  By LWJ’s count, this would be strike number 23 for the year (suggesting 2013 might fall short of 2012’s high of 42 strikes, but still far north of 2011’s 10 strikes).  I mention this in part because the numbers are . . .
Read more »

Readings: Christine Fair, “Drones, Spies, Terrorists and Second-Class Citizenship in Pakistan – A Review Essay”

By
Saturday, November 16, 2013 at 6:58 PM

Georgetown University political scientist C. Christine Fair has been a leading voice in challenging much of the conventional wisdom about the nature of conflict in Pakistan, including the role of US drones, the Pakistani Taliban, and Pakistan’s military.  In a brief but comprehensive essay, forthcoming in the journal Small Wars and Insurgencies (25.1), she reviews . . .
Read more »

SSCI Approves Intelligence Authorization Bill for FY2014

By
Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 8:59 PM

The legislation, which the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence yesterday approved by a 13-2 vote, can be found here.  The Committee’s press release sums up the bill and can be found here. There’s all kinds of stuff to pore over.  Among other things, the bill would provide for Senate confirmation of the Director and Inspector General . . .
Read more »