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Category Archives: Targeted Killing: Drones

Drone Strikes and the CIA vs JSOC Quality-Control Comparison

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Monday, May 12, 2014 at 10:15 AM

For those who are still wondering why the Obama administration has not followed through on the idea of shifting all responsibility for drone strikes from CIA to JSOC, this story from Ken Dilanian of the L.A. Times provides some useful context. Building on an account about a CIA-JSOC disagreement regarding the sufficiency of the intelligence . . .
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David Barron, Targeted Killing, and Rand Paul’s Wrongheaded Oped

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Monday, May 12, 2014 at 8:10 AM

“I believe that killing an American citizen without a trial is an extraordinary concept and deserves serious debate,” writes Sen. Rand Paul in an oped in the New York Times this morning. “I can’t imagine appointing someone to the federal bench, one level below the Supreme Court, without fully understanding that person’s views concerning the extrajudicial . . .
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Yemen Conflict Update: Expanded US Military Role on the Way?

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Thursday, May 8, 2014 at 9:54 AM

An interesting tidbit today regarding US involvement in Yemen, from Politico’s first-rate briefer Morning Defense: MORE MILITARY SUPPORT COULD BE COMING: Shy of putting boots on the ground, the U.S. government is receptive to additional military cooperation with the Yemeni government if requested, a DoD official told Morning D. Currently, the U.S. military and the . . .
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The New York Times on David Barron

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Thursday, May 8, 2014 at 8:36 AM

This was bound to happen eventually, I suppose: the New York Times editorial page has gotten behind the effort to hold up David Barron’s judicial nomination. Sort of. Calling Barron, whom Obama has nominated to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, “The Lawyer Behind the Drone Policy,” the Times notes that: . . .
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A Summary of Friday’s Decision in al-Aulaqi v. Panetta

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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 . . .
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Judge Collyer Throws Out Al-Aulaqi Bivens Suit

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

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

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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 . . .
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Reflections on the Chatham House Autonomy Conference

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

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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 . . .
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The Clear and Convincing Standard and Citizen Drone Strikes

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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 . . .
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What is the Point of the New Drone Targeting Rules?

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

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

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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 . . .
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U.S. Citizen Possibly Targeted for Drone Attack

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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.” . . .
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Are Armed Drones Anything Strategically New?

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

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

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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 . . .
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Congressional Control of Intelligence Programs (sometimes)

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

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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 . . .
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