Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The CIA and Targeted Killing

From Kenneth Anderson at Volokh Conspiracy. Anderson is responding to The New York Times, "CIA Had Plan to Assassinate Qaeda Leaders" (where he is quoted):

...as to the international law issues involved in targeting Al Qaeda leaders, I will simply refer you over to a new paper, soon to appear as a book chapter in a volume edited by Benjamin Wittes on reforming counterterrorism policy, on targeted killing. That paper has a particular point, however. It says that of course the US targeted killings of Al Qaeda terrorists is a legal act of self defense under international law. (You can get a free pdf download, here, at SSRN, "Targeted Killing in US Counterterrorism and Law.")

The longer term question to which the paper mostly addresses itself is whether, in the face of withering international legal criticism, from UN special rapporteurs, human rights groups, academics, etc. - what we might call the international "soft law" crowd - the US, and specifically the Obama administration, will insist on the traditional doctrines of self defense, including against terrorists who find safe haven in states that are unwilling or unable to deal with them. The problem specifically for the Obama administration is that on the one hand it has - correctly in my view, for strategic, legal, and humanitarian reasons - embraced targeted killings via Predator strikes.

On the other hand, a lot of the administration's international legal apparatus is highly sympathetic to the "soft law" position, and in other circumstances would like to embrace positions that, however noble in the abstract, would effectively rule out targeted killing as the US pursues them. And particularly rule them out in future situations in which Al Qaeda is not involved, in which there is no AUMF, no Security Council resolutions, etc., to point to. It is important for the administration to keep in mind that the US will eventually face different terrorist enemies - there is, so to speak, life - and death - after Al Qaeda.

The paper is concerned with defending the US legal space for targeted killing undertaken as self defense, but not within the context of an armed conflict as defined under international humanitarian law. If that seems like a mouthful, I'll just refer you to the paper.

More at Memeorandum. Especially, Uncle Jimbo, "On the Legality of Targeting al Qaeda Leaders."And just in, from Newsweek, "The CIA's Kill Teams Were Modeled on Israel's Hit Squads."

Related: Common Sense Political Thought, "Assassinating Enemies and Loose Lips."

Video Credit: "Probe of Cheney's Covert CIA Plan Urged."


theCL said...

Of course, this is nothing but more sleight-of-hand ... Hey, look! Over here!

Meanwhile, back in the real world, we're heading into the Greater Depression ...

Rusty Walker said...

Yes, and this will not take attention away from the economic meltdown this administration has imposed on the country ultimately find something close to death under its own weight.

The unfortunate part of the pathologically-empathetic party in control, is their aggressive need to annihilate anything from the hated Bush legacy. If we did this as a country from the time of the Democrats in office, going back to slavery, we could have ruined any chance of survival as a democracy. We didn’t.

For example, it was Democratic legislation of President Franklin D. Roosevelt that authorized the internment of, what was it, over a thousand? Japanese Americans in1942. It took a Republican, Ronald Reagan, to apologize, and not demonize FDR. Why is it that the Left cannot leave the recent past alone, and stop trying to reinvent the world according to the immature Obamanation. I cannot think of a disappointment so much in my political life time as Obama. Too soon to tell? Maybe. I say that sometimes. But, it is not looking good.

Dave said...

As I noted elsewhere on this very blog, the government needs a distraction.

I suspect this will be it.

All Obama needs to essentially complete his Marxist coup is to pass ObamaCare and therefore seize what is now 1/6 of the remaining U.S. private sector economy.

Once that happens, the America we all grew up in will be burnt toast.

There is no way yet derived to un-burn toast.