past actions

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REPRISE: Anwar al-Aulaqi—Targeted Killings, Self-Defense, and War Crimes

Press reports indicate President Obama is considering adding or has already added the name of a U.S. citizen to the kill list for targeted assassination by drone or other means. See Tom Cohen, “When can…

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International Law and the Use of Force: Drones and Real Anarchy Unleashed Upon the World

Recently a number of articles have been published that are of particular interest with respect to the development and use of drones. See William Wan and Peter Finn, “Global race on to match U.S. drone…

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UPDATE: Anwar al-Aulaqi: Targeted Killings, Self-Defense, and War Crimes

UPDATE The Center for Constitutional Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union have filed suit against the Treasury Department for rules that require them to obtain a license before they can challenge the inclusion of…

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Targeted Killings: U.N. Special Rapporteur Alston Publishes Report to U.N. Human Rights Council

Today, Philip Alston, a highly distinguished human rights expert and U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, published a report addressing international law issues raised by the policy of “targeted killings”. See Philip…

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Targeted Killings by Drone Aircraft: A View From India, and Some Observations

….. Quotation “La guerre, c’est une chose trop grave pour la confier à des militaires.” “War is too serious a matter to just be handed over to some military men.” –Georges Clemenceau. ….. The following…

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Anwar al-Aulaqi: Targeted Killings, Self-Defense, and War Crimes

The United States has gotten itself into a terrible jam, having adopted the legal justification of the Bush administration for targeted killings.

Anwar al-Aulaqi, who resides in Yemen, was previously placed on a target list maintained by the U.S. military’s Joint Special Operations Command…

If this death warrant is executed in circumstances that do not justify the use of force in self-defense, either at the international or at the domestic level with the permission of the territorial state, its execution may constitute a war crime.

The United States has now become an official hit squad, which will go out and kill anyone on its list of targetable individuals.

Yet it is hard to see how the United States can kill its way to peace, in Afghanistan or in the struggle against terrorists in different countries throughout the world.

Whatever the short-term gains from the current approach, and it is far from clear that it does not create more terrorists than it kills, President Obama and his international lawyers need to rethink their approach to targeted killings.

They need to reexamine the issue, both in order to avoid extrajudicial executions and assassinations, and to shape the standards which will also guide other states in the future in deciding whether or not to put someone on a hit list and then to go out and kill him.

It is time to back off from the Wild West, and to return to civilization and the task of building out a viable international legal order.