Saturday, January 12, 2013

Are Drone Strikes a Form of Extrajudicial Killing?


Are Drone Strikes a Form of Extrajudicial Killing?

Updated 2_05_2013 (See below).  And again 2_06_+_07_+_10_+_2013 (below).

Some quite possibly are.  In this article by one of us (U. S. Congress hearing on unmanned weaponized vehicles) we learn about a hearing (11/16/2012) Congressman Dennis Kucinich had on Drone Strikes.  Mr. Kucinich once again (?) offered some public “disagreement” on drone strikes last week.  And what exactly is an “extrajudicial” killing?  Extrajudicial means (1) “done outside the law”, roughly.  So an extrajudicial killing is one that is “done outside the law”.  This is why nationally-authorized (which nation?) drone strikes can be so troubling.


As Professor James Cavallaro pointed out in the 11/16 Briefing “that some *475 to 885 innocent Pakistanis had been killed by these drones from 2004 to 2012”.  In so-called ‘signature strikes’ targeting individuals claimed to have been in ‘suspicious activity’.  In essence, they may have been denied due process – a concept as old as the Magna Carta if not older.  Individuals who may been collaterally killed by strategic and other drone strikes might then have been killed/judged without due process of law – as extrajudicial collateral killings.  These strikes may thus infuriate/alienate the local peoples whom then striking national authority may have been protecting.  The argument has also been put out that this creates further allegiance to terrorists and other enemies.


The U. S. Declaration of Independence, like most national law, states that we have a “right to life and liberty” amongst other things.  The absence of due process in some drone strikes seems to be a danger to that/those concepts.  That is enough reason to care about EKs and DSs.  EKs and DSs may have been obviously illegal if (as the Examiner article reminds) first responders and civilian rescuers had been targeted.   There is a legal basis for some of this in the United States and there is not. 

The recently passed NDAA 2013 Act (H. R. 4310) does make (funding) provisions for Counterrorism (Sub-title D) with the following Sections:

“Sec. 1021. Extension of authority to make rewards for combating terrorism.

Sec. 1022. Prohibition on use of funds to construct or modify facilities in the United

States to house detainees transferred from United States Naval Station,

Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Sec. 1023. Report on recidivism of individuals detained at United States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who have been transferred to foreign


Sec. 1024. Notice and report on use of naval vessels for detention of individuals

captured outside Afghanistan pursuant to the Authorization for Use of

Military Force.

Sec. 1025. Notice required prior to transfer of certain individuals detained at the Detention Facility at Parwan, Afghanistan.

Sec. 1026. Report on recidivism of individuals formerly detained at the Detention

Facility at Parwan, Afghanistan.”

The above Sections only cover punishments such as detention and largely in Afghanistan borders.  A review of these and later sections do not cover the use of drone strikes and “pain of death”.  Only in other nations is it “lawful” to use lethal force against “enemy combatants”.    Such killings may be legal (for terrorists) or illegal according to U. S. Code 28 Sections 1350 and 1605A.  In the US Codes 28 1350 (previous) a person (survivors in our case) may have remedy through a tort (statute of limitations being 10 years) and in 1605A only “a state” may not be granted immunity for terrorism or the supporting of said terrorism (and more). 

Using/interpreting the above laws it would seem that any nation (by U.S. Code) would be engaged in extrajudicial killings if no act of war were declared and performed against no enemy combatants.    There is a DOD Process (same link provided earlier) for determining whether or not an individual is an enemy combatant.  These suggestions make the “Manning/Wikileaks” case/s seem more transparent.  No national laws could have been broken if “certain records have been made classified”.  That said, for our own and your protection, we can’t support or deny the case.

For the case of due process, this must be judged by the courts when there is a desire to extend “statutory requirements” in a “time of war”.  We wonder how the courts would judge on the recent killing of a Pakistani tribal leader and “good Taliban” (not necessarily an enemy combatant?) Maulvi Nazir.  Even though the Pakistani government may have called him a ‘good Taliban’ he has been described as a ‘militant’ – but not an enemy combatant. 
For a comprehensive review on the topic of drone strikes, see the Cornell Law report on “The civilian impact of drone strikes”.  One of the questions raised by the CL report (per the Wired Danger Room) is that even the White House does not know how many drone strike fatalities have taken place.  Indeed, in a White House press briefing (June 5, 2012) the 2008 killing of Abdullah Said al-Libi is mentioned very briefly.   True, while keeping such drone strike fatality information classified may protect names, lives and missions of our military and intelligence personnel it brings us back to a point made by *Professor Cavallaro.  It is difficult to judge whether drone strikes (fatalities) are extrajudicial killings without some sort of body count.

Update 1_30_2013 PBS stares back at 1.8-gigapixel ARGUS drone imaging system Via

Their link to the PBS Show "Rise of the Drones"

Update 2_05_2013

Via BBC News

Even though it links to a US Government Document we cannot provide a copy of it here as it bears the imprimatur of NBC News.
The controversial  phrase "imminent threat" appears on page 8 of the PDF's text.  This sounds like a "battlefield term" and not easily understood by the non-military portion of public without further study.  It seems like invoking the "law of war" upon an individual?
The document cites multiple references to US Laws and Codes but curiously omits the Codes 1350, 1605A and 4310 that we cited above in this posting.
Letter to Eric Holder from Sensenbrenner and Conyers about the Draft of the White Paper (Nov. 8 2011?)
Drones: Confidential Justice Department Memo: Targeted Killing of Americans Does Not Require 'Clear Evidence' of Imminent Attack - @Gawker
Update 2_06_2013

John Brennan faces grilling over leaked drone memo as senators demand answers  via @guardian

BBC News - CIA operating drone base in Saudi Arabia, US media reveal

Drones: The Washington Post and a Bunch of Other News Organizations Helped Keep CIA Drone Base Secret - @Gawker
A one-paragraph law justifies the U.S.’ 11-year war on terror. We break it down:

It's ok to question the president. In fact, it's mandatory. He asked us to "hold him acountable"--
Update 2_07_2013

Lawmakers to see classified drone memos ahead of Brennan confirmation hearing

Fox News
- ‎1 hour ago‎
The Obama administration plans to give lawmakers sensitive and long-sought documents Thursday morning that provide the legal rationale for drone strikes on Americans, in a bid to tamp down concerns ahead of the confirmation hearing for President ...
Ken Dilanian

CNN Staff
Lesa Jansen, CNN
Via Gawker

What is a secret drone base that's not actually a secret? The Washington Postand the New York Timesrevealed today that they were among a number of news organizations that participated in a blackout regarding the location of a "secret" CIA drone base in Saudia Arabia at the behest of the Obama...
You can't sign the Stop Drones WH petition because it failed the 100K signed threshold

However, via Haloefekti
Sign the other Stop the #drones petitions, several like this
Reforming US Drone Strike Policies by Micah Zenko Council on Foreign Relations.

Two children holding a sign " Drones kill innocent children like us " #NoDrones

Update 2_10_2013
Via Gawker
Drones: Is This The CIA's Secret Saudi Arabia Drone Base? - @Gawker
Update 2_11_2013
'McLaughlin Group' Panel Debates Drone Program (VIDEO): via HuffPost Surprise,pat Buchanan on side against the prez. Via sylvaners@Sylvaners
Push to Expand U.S. 'Kill List' Officials Press to Mark Algerian Militant as Target for Death or Capture Via @WSJ

However, the 'target' in question (Mokhtar Belmokhtar) has already been given a life sentence and 2 death sentences

1.       Updated 3_06_2013 MotherJones

Drones: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know But Were Always Afraid to Ask


Eric Holder: Drone Strike To Kill U.S. Citizen On American Soil Legal, Hypothetically
 via @HuffPostPol

Update for Saturday 6/29/2013

Must see BookTV segment about "Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield"






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