March 10, 2010

KENNETH ANDERSON on Drone Warfare and the Harvard National Security Conference.

Probably the most important conclusion for me from discussions following my Predators over Pakistan essay is that I have not been sufficiently clear, with myself or in writing, that the appeal I am making to self-defense law does not preclude the application of the normal laws of war in those places where there is an armed conflict. Discussion of this topic seems a little bit like the blind men and the elephant — the military people responsible for a counterinsurgency ground war in Afghanistan see Predator strikes in their theatre of conflict, quite rightly, as not a big issue. It is not different, really, from the missile fired by a jet 25 or 30 miles away — it’s just another standoff platform. The legal rules of targeting are no different, and it’s just another standoff firing option.

At the other extreme, however, is the CIA using Predators to attack a targeted designated by the President under procedures outlined in US statutes for covert action by the CIA. Is that different, legally?

Read the whole thing.

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