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Home » Military-Political

The Targeted Killings Debate

Submitted by on June 16, 2011 – 1:32 pm No Comment

The Obama administration has escalated the campaign of targeted killings against suspected terrorists worldwide, increasing the use of unmanned drone strikes (ForeignPolicy) and so-called kill/capture missions (PBS) on al-Qaeda and Taliban leadership both on and off the traditional battlefield. While some analysts tout successes, like the U.S. Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden inside Pakistan, others say the strategy lacks proper legal boundaries, as in the targeting of an American jihadist, Anwar al-Awlaki (WSJ), in Yemen.

Should targeted killings continue? CFR’s Matthew Waxman cautions against overreliance on them as a counterterrorism tool but says so far U.S. policy is within legal bounds. Constitutional lawyer Pardiss Kebriaei questions the legal basis that U.S. administrations have used to justify killing suspected terrorists off the battlefield, suggesting a violation of constitutional rights of due process. Decapitating terrorist networks is an effective strategy, says Georgetown’s Daniel Byman, capable of robbing a group of charismatic leadership critical to its success. But Afghanistan expert Kate Clark argues that targeted killings often produce an organizational chaos that unleashes a more radical generation of subordinates.

U.S. strikes against senior al-Qaeda or affiliated terrorists in places like Pakistan or Yemen–most recently, the reported (but unverified) killing of al-Qaeda-linked Pakistani militant Ilyas Kashmiri (Reuters)–often give rise to accusations that the United States is engaged in unlawful “extrajudicial killing,” “assassination,” or violations of sovereignty. In part because of the secrecy surrounding these policies, such legal claims often don’t get thoroughly and specifically answered. However, lethal force directed against particular individuals outside a combat zone like Afghanistan is legally and strategically appropriate in limited circumstances.  Continue reading

My Comments:
Pretty good read from four debaters on the above topic at the Council on Foreign Relation (CFR).  Not sure why it always workout that these types of topics usually break down along the males-female divide.

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