Targeted Killing: When Proportionality Gets All Out of Proportion
23 Pages Posted: 10 Mar 2013
Date Written: 2013
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.
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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