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Category Archives: Targeted Killing: Drones

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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Why Drone Strikes in Pakistan Have Stopped (and Will It Last?)

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Thursday, May 29, 2014 at 11:22 AM

Did you know that we have not carried out drone strikes in Pakistan since 2013?  A story from Ken Dilanian (now at AP) today does a nice job of laying out the many reasons why: 1. Fewer targets  (“Many of the senior al-Qaida figures in Pakistan have been killed”; “Hardcore al-Qaida militants from Pakistan have . . .
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Is JSOC About to Become More Transparent on Drone Strikes?

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Friday, May 23, 2014 at 4:57 PM

One frequently sees the claim that CIA drone operations should be handed over to the military because the military is more transparent. I have frequently disparaged that argument, not because the CIA is in fact transparent but rather because direct action undertaken by JSOC isn’t transparent either. But might that change soon? According to a . . .
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Questions About CIA v. DOD Drone Strikes

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014 at 9:55 AM

Two reasons often given for the need to transfer targeting killing by drone from CIA exclusively to DOD are (i) collateral damage reduction, because DOD supposedly has stricter targeting criteria and better law-of-war compliance, and (ii) more robust oversight.  Neither reason is sound. Taking the second point first, as we have often noted on this blog, . . .
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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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