The use of lethal force (whether via armed drone, manned aircraft, cruise missile, helicopter assault, etc.) has been a cornerstone of U.S. counterterrorism policy for many years, both in places where we have ground combat deployments and places where we do not. Throughout this period, the legality, efficacy, wisdom, and morality of this practice has been the subject of intense scrutiny and debate. Nonetheless, the kinetic option has proven remarkably durable over time (especially as compared to its sibling, the use of non-criminal detention).
Latest in Targeted Killing: Drones
Yesterday, I published this correspondence from a government lawyer who thought I had been unfair to Harold Koh in describing his role at the State Department as being "obstructionist" with respect to the drone program. Here's another response I received, this one from someone else who observed the process and who agrees with my characterization---though with evident admiration for Koh's effectiveness and tenacity: "your piece today on Harold was spot on.
U.S. Drone Strike Reportedly Killed Two Hostages Held by Al-Qaeda, One American and One Italian, as well as an American Al-Qaeda Member
Breaking news from the New York Times:
I received the following email from a government lawyer who was involved in the drone strike discussions about my post yesterday about Harold Koh's role in those discussions:
I would normally lay off writing about the flap that has erupted at NYU over Harold Koh's presence there. Academic politics don't interest me much. Student protests interest me even less. And student protests based on false facts that, in turn, lead to academics piously leaping to the defense of one another's virtues and students claiming intimidation . . . well, life is short.
The Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) has released a new report that documents civilian casualties caused by U.S. drone strikes in Yemen.
The New York Times this morning has a story on the internal debate within the administration over whether to capture or kill a U.S. citizen terrorism suspect now facing charges in federal court in New York:
In the trial of Abid Naseer, the U.S. Department of Justice released a trove of new files recovered from Osama bin Laden's compound during the May 2011 raid by U.S. Navy Seals that ended in his death. Seventeen of the documents were released in 2012.
Kevin Heller and I have been debating whether the CIA drone strike targeting Anwar al-Aulaqi violated 18 USC 1119, which makes it a felony to kill American citizens overseas (to be clear, our exchange has not extended to Due Process Clause questions or to international law questions such as whether that attack related to a NIAC, etc.).
The White House has just released a statement confirming the death of Ahmed Godane, the leader of Al Shabaab in Somalia. According to the statement, the U.S. military targeted Godane in a successful air strike last weekend. The full statement is below: