Targeted Killing: When Proportionality Gets All Out of Proportion

Amos N. Guiora

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law


University of Utah College of Law Research Paper No. 1

Targeted killing sits at the intersection of law, morality, strategy, and policy. For the very reasons that lawful and effective targeted killing enables the state to engage in its core function of self-defense and defense of its nationals, I am a proponent of targeted killing. However, my support for targeted killing is conditioned upon it being subject to rigorous standards, criteria, and guidelines. At present, new conceptions of threat and new technological capabilities are drastically affecting the implementation of targeted killing and the application of core legal and moral principles. High-level decision makers have begun to seemingly place a disproportionate level of importance on tactical and strategic gain over respect for a narrow definition of criteria-based legal and moral framework. Nonetheless, an effective targeted killing provides the state with significant advantages in the context of counterterrorism. Rather than relying on the executive branch making decisions in a “closed world” devoid of oversight and review, the intelligence information justifying the proposed action must be submitted to a court that would ascertain the information’s admissibility. The process of preparing and submitting available intelligence information to a court would significantly contribute to minimizing operational error that otherwise would occur.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 23

Keywords: US Drone Policy, Targeted Killing, Department of Justice White Paper, FISA drone court, Morality in Armed Conflict, Decision Making Process, Legitimate Target

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Date posted: March 10, 2013  

Suggested Citation

Guiora, Amos N., Targeted Killing: When Proportionality Gets All Out of Proportion (2013). University of Utah College of Law Research Paper No. 1. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2230686 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2230686

Contact Information

Amos N. Guiora (Contact Author)
University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law ( email )
332 S. 1400 East Front
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0730
United States
801-581-4295 (Phone)
801-581-6897 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.law.utah.edu/profiles/default.asp?PersonID=6581&name=Guiora,Amos..

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