The Constitutionality of Targeted Killing

96 Pages Posted: 8 Feb 2020

Date Written: January 19, 2020

Abstract

With the recent targeted killing of Qassem Soleimani, there is significant renewed interest in the legality of targeted killing. This is an area of the law that is extremely important and timely. This article focuses on the legality of targeted killing under the U.S. Constitution and domestic law. (The author intends to analyze the legality of targeted killing under international law in a future article.) This article argues that targeted killing is a constitutionally valid tactic. This paper argues that targeted killing is a constitutionally authorized tactic. The article analyzes the text, context, and history of the relevant portions of the U.S. Constitution, as well as analyzing statutory authorizations for the use of force and covert action. Finally, the article analyzes the United States’ assassination ban, and distinguishes targeted killing from prohibited assassination. (Disclaimer: The views presented in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Department of Defense (“DoD”) or its components. The author’s characterizations of DoD policies, practices, and military operations are based on the public sources cited and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the DoD.)

Keywords: Targeted Killing, Constitutional Interpretation, Statutory Interpretation, National Security Law

Suggested Citation

Poole, Bryce, The Constitutionality of Targeted Killing (January 19, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3522212 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3522212

Bryce Poole (Contact Author)

Department of Defense ( email )

1610 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301

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