The D.C. Circuit's recent ruling that the political question doctrine bars the adjudication of claims regarding a 2012 U.S. drone strike in Yemen improperly refuses to adjudicate a claim duly enacted by Congress under the Torture Victim Protection Act.
Although targeted killings are hardly a novel military tactic, they have gained significant attention in recent years as the US government has increasingly employed the method in its overseas counterterrorism operations. Many critics have attacked the government’s targeted killing programs on grounds of excessive civilian casualties, an matter that remains sharply contested. The targeted killing programs also raise legal questions under both domestic law and international law, as well as thorny legal and moral issues regarding the use of unmanned aerial vehicles and other autonomous systems in the carrying out of targeted killings.