Targeted Killing: Drones

As the long war drags on, armed drones are increasingly the tool of choice for targeting and killing of individual terror suspects. Supporters argue that the comparatively precise targeting enabled by drones has saved the lives of both soldiers (who need not endanger themselves) and civilians (whose lives are spared by more tightly confined and targeted violence). Meanwhile, detractors criticize not only the legal rationale for targeted killings in general, but also the lack of transparency, limited institutional oversight and lower threshold costs that accompany the American drone program in particular. Especially since the killing of American citizen and extremist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in  2011, the use of armed drones for targeted killings has come under increased legal scrutiny under both international and domestic U.S. law.

Latest in Targeted Killing: Drones

Department of Defense

Commitment to Balance Is Vitally Important for Successful Implementation of CHMR-AP

Maintaining deliberate balance between divergent approaches is necessary for operationalizing the Civilian Harm Mitigation and Response-Action Plan to optimize joint targeting processes without compromising military effectiveness and national security.


Document: Trump Revokes Obama Executive Order on Counterterrorism Strike Casualty Reporting

On Wednesday, President Trump issued an executive order revoking an Obama administration order that created reporting requirements for U.S. counterterrorism strikes. Read the full order below.

Executive Order on Revocation of Reporting Requirement

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Targeted Killing: Drones

US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit Dismisses Suit Over US Drone Strike

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit today handed down an opinion dismissing a suit filed by the family members of individuals reportedly killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in 2012, which the plaintiffs allege was conducted in violation of domestic and international law. Though the court dismissed the case as presenting a non-justiciable political question, Judge Janice Rogers Brown's concurrence presents a strong criticism of the existing oversight regime for targeted killing.

The opinion is available in full below.

drone strikes

A Revived CIA Drone Strike Program? Comments on the New Policy

In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, Gordon Lubold and Shane Harris reported that President Trump “has given the Central Intelligence Agency secret new authority to conduct drone strikes against suspected terrorists, … changing the Obama administration’s policy of limiting the spy agency’s paramilitary role and reopening a turf war between the agency and the Pentagon.” The article is sparking a lot of hand-wringing. Should it?

Subscribe to Lawfare