Targeted Killing Dilemma

There are articles on every major media site this morning about the Obama Administration wrestling with a decision whether to target an American for killing who is working for al Qaeda in another country and planning a terror attack against the U.S.

While the country and person aren't named, it sounds like the Administration's chief purpose in releasing this information is to let the target know what's in store for him and observe his response, rather than transparency on policy decisions at home.

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    From The Guardian link (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by MO Blue on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 11:12:37 AM EST
    House of Representatives Intelligence committee chairman Mike Rogers complained last week that a number of terrorist suspects were all but out of reach under the administration's new rules that limit drone strikes based on the target's nationality or location. Two of the US officials said the Justice Department review of the American suspected terrorist started last fall.

    If we are speculating why this information is being released now, it could be nothing more than a response to Rogers' allegations. More in line with "Yes, we can still kill Americans when we want to under our new rules."

    My own views are more in line with Mary Ellen O'Connell:

    Mary Ellen O'Connell, a professor of international law at the University of Notre Dame, said there is a school of thought that the Obama administration's drone policy is "lawless."

    "Why should the Justice Department issue the execution warrant for anyone abroad? The fact that they give extra scrutiny only because he's an American exacerbates this negative impression," O'Connell said.

    If the law of war applies to the situation (5.00 / 8) (#2)
    by Peter G on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 01:19:24 PM EST
    between the United States and the branch of al Quaeda with which this individual has affiliated himself (which seems to be the presumption for the last decade, although I have my questions about that), and the individual is engaged in "combat," then I don't see what difference it makes, legally speaking, whether he is a U.S. citizen.  Killing him in a nation at which the US is not at war is a violation of that nation's sovereignty, and if precautions are not (or by the nature of the weapon cannot be) taken to avoid collateral civilian deaths, the strike itself violates the law of war.  (However, it does not violate any of the enemy combatant's personal rights under the law of war.)  But if the determination being made here is that he is believed to have committed a federal crime (a US citizen plotting or causing the death of Americans abroad, for example) then he cannot be executed on that account regardless of how much unilateral, phony "due process" is afforded first, unless he is brought to trial, no matter how hard it would be to arrest him.

    I wonder if anyone in the (none / 0) (#3)
    by Anne on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 02:01:06 PM EST
    Obama administration is making or has made that argument to the president; scares me to think there might not even be one lone voice.

    Law of war? Due process? (none / 0) (#5)
    by Zorba on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 02:10:44 PM EST
    What are those?    </snark>

    They have been replaced with the Nixonian (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by MO Blue on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 02:19:56 PM EST
    and Bush doctrines.

    Nixonian doctrine: If the president does it, it is legal.

    Bush doctrine: The Constitution is just a d@mn piece of paper.


    Obama doctrine: (5.00 / 3) (#10)
    by lentinel on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 04:22:13 PM EST
    What they said.

    It certainly (5.00 / 3) (#11)
    by Zorba on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 07:05:24 PM EST
    is now.   :-(

    Citzenship should not be (none / 0) (#12)
    by MKS on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 10:53:39 PM EST
    the standard.  It does sound horrid to kill fellow U.S. citizens....But the issue is whether the individual is engaged in combat against the U.S.

    All of Lee's Army were citizens of the U.S.

    Terrorist activities do tend to blur the line between committing crimes and engaging in combat.


    A quote from an interview of (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by oculus on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 12:27:29 PM EST
    author Rachel Kushner:

    If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be?
         Given who our president is, this is like a trick question. I have serious problems with Obama. But Obama is not poorly read; that is not his problem. He's extremely well read. He's still got a drone program. He lets bankers run our economy. Allows Guantánamo to remain open. It would be foolish to pretend I could recommend some enlightening text and he'd scratch his chin and then go for a policy makeover.

    PS. Note to squeaky. I do not hate Obama.

    I don't think terrorists are (none / 0) (#4)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 02:10:35 PM EST
    the only ones the Government contemplates targeting for killings.

    At one point, according to released Wikileaks memos, they considered assassinating Chapo Guzman but Obama refused.

    Good for Obama (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by sj on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 02:48:15 PM EST
    Criminal matters should be handled in a court of law. The Executive branch has no business being judge, jury and executioner.

    Yes, good on him (none / 0) (#8)
    by Dadler on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 03:24:15 PM EST
    Wish he has an ounce of that much spine when it came to denying Wall Street and the finance ponzi industry.

    But you take what you can get, I suppose.


    I wish (none / 0) (#9)
    by lentinel on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 04:20:37 PM EST
    I could call it "spine" as you do.

    I think he has seen the writing on the wall about these killings - that is to say: People aren't as prone to cheer or shrug as they once were.

    In short, these killing ain't good for business.


    There is the crazy (none / 0) (#14)
    by Mikado Cat on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 10:32:31 PM EST
    right wing notion that when 20,000 stinger type missiles were "lost" in Lybia all manned air operations became very high risk, so in most cases all we have left are boots on the ground or drones. Politically that leaves only drones.

    How upset is the general public over drones anyway, not much it seems.