posted on Jun, 5 2012 @ 02:11 PM
reply to post by UltimateSkeptic1
Does anybody understand by what legal authority the United States is authorized to murder people inside the borders of other sovereign nations?
The legal justification for these operations is very complex covering both domestic and international law. First of all it is important to realise
that executive order 12333, which prohibits American sanctioned assassination is still applicable and in force. However during the Clinton
administration following the attacks on the American embassies the language used was somewhat relaxed to make possible the “targeted killing” of
There is a difference between “targeted killing” and “assassination”, assassination usually refers to the act of murder of individuals by some
kind of covert means usually as part of some kind of political agenda (the exact definition is a legal and academic midfield.). Assassination is still
outlawed in America, however targeted killing is not seen as assassination because it is a killing that America argues has taken place in an act of
self-defence. It can simply be put as an act of self-defence, much like a sniper on the battle field shooting at the enemy who is setting up a mortar
For me the logic that the Americans have applied hear is still tantamount to being wrong unless they know in advance that the individual being
targeted for killing is planning an attack. I find it very hard to believe that it is possible they have this type of intelligence for every drone
attack and therefore it is inevitable that some of these attacks are state sanctioned assassination in the guise of targeted killing.
The nationality of the individual killed in a “targeted killing” has no bearing on the legal justification in regards to the jurisprudence applied
by the American government when it comes to neutralise terrorist threats.
In the case of Anwar Al-Awaki the, the justification for this killing is that it was an act of self defence, which does not constitute assassination.
It is an extension to the same morality that justifies a police officer shooting an armed and dangerous criminal who is going to kill innocent
civilians. This comparison can be difficult to comprehend and I admit that it is a difficult concept to accept as being the morally right thing to do.
Weather one believes this is the correct course of action is a personal judgement as currently the American administration is legally justified in its
current use of covert drone strikes to neutralise perceived terrorist threats by successfully claiming that these operations are acts of self defence
against an enemy of the state. It would be absurd to claim that each and every one of these drone strikes is legally justified in this way; however
one would have to go through each individual operation and judge its legality, Al-Awaki was legal.
The issue of undertaking these operations on sovereign states is another issue that is just as complex. For the most part America has the blessing of
the state in which the operation is taking place for example in Yemen. Pakistan however is a more difficult situation, for a while the pakistani’s
publicly denounced and distanced themselves from the attacks but in private gave their consent. However after the raid against Bin Laden they have
been publicly describing these attacks as a breach of international law and their sovereignty. To understand if these attacks are legal requires a
in-depth knowledge of international law which is a somewhat abstract entity open to interpretation. These drone attacks will most likely use the same
legal justification as say the attacks against Libya in the 1980’s.
Sorry if that does not fully answer your question.