Arguments relating to the legality of armed drones have raged since the very first Predator strike. However, over the past year, the legal arguments have emerged out of the pages of academic journals and obscure conference rooms and entered the mainstream and indeed, the courtroom. In the first of our reviews of the year we look back at what has happened in relation to legal arguments of the use of drones. Read more →
This is an edited version of an article by US Catholic theologians Tobias L. Winright and Mark J. Allman that first appeared in the 18th August 2012 edition of the international Catholic weekly, The Tablet (www.thetablet.co.uk) as ‘Obama’s drone wars: a case to answer. Recalling that Barack Obama spelt out his commitment to the just war tradition at the outset of his presidency, Winright and Allman, reflect on whether the growing use of armed drones is in fact compatible with the just war tradition. Reproduced by kind permission of the publishers.Read more →
Over the weekend Codepink, CCR and Reprieve hosted an international summit on drone warfare in Washington DC. Unfortunately we were not able to attend but did take part ‘virtually’ via twitter and livestream feed.
Lots of videos and more from the sessions will be posted soon on their new Drones Watch website. However one of the highlights of the event, a speech by Jeremy Scahill of The Nation, one of the few journalists to travel to countries where the covert drone war is playing out, is already available thanks to Kevin Gosztola, and well worth watching (see Kevin’s blog post here)
The Washington Post reported this week that the CIA is seeking to expand its use of drone strikes in Yemen. According to the report, the CIA is currently “limited” within Yemen to using drone strikes against known individuals on a targeted kill list. However it now is seeking permission from the National Security Council (Chaired by President Obama) to launch drone strikes when intelligence shows what is called the “telltale signature of al-Qaeda activity”. These so-called ‘signature’ strikes (as opposed to ‘personality’ strikes) are based on intelligence about vehicle movements, communications, movements in and out of a particular building or compound, and patterns of behavior.
It should be noted that in Yemen, as opposed to Pakistan, US military forces such as the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) are also involved in launching attacks against suspected al Qaeda targets and these forces may well already have such “permission”.
Of course the whole idea that the US can grant itself “permission” and “authority” to attack either known individuals associated with al Qaeda or those suspected of being involved, anywhere in the world, at any time has no basis in international law as many have repeated made clear.
“When the CIA general counsel says that the agency need only act in ‘a manner consistent’ with the ‘principles’ of international law, he is saying the laws of war aren’t really law at all… The Obama administration should make it clear that there’s no ‘CIA exception’ for its international legal obligations.”
HRW argues that command of all US armed drone strikes should be transferred to US military forces rather than remain in the hands of the secretive and unaccountable CIA.