US Drone Wars
Pakistani government continues to privately back the US-led drone campaign in spite of growing public opposition to drone strikes
Medea Benjamin: U.S. government claims drone victims are mostly militants, but about half identified victims thus far are civilians and children
Robert Naiman: US is on a policy collision course in Yemen as it publicly supports democracy but covertly administers drone strikes
Michael Ratner: Obama continues model of Presidential fiat, Congressional fiat, no due process, no trials, and indefinite detention.
Attacks by the CIA on rescuers and funeral-goers may be morally questionable. But are such attacks legal? It is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions to attack rescuers wearing emblems of the Red Cross or Red Crescent. But what if rescuers wear no emblems, or if civilians are mixed in with militants, as the Bureau’s investigation into drone attacks in Waziristan has repeatedly found? Speaking publicly for the first time on the controversial CIA drone strikes, President Obama claimed last week that they are used strictly to target terrorists, rejecting what he called ‘this perception we’re just sending in a whole bunch of strikes willy-nilly’. He also claimed that the strikes ‘have not caused a huge number of civilian casualties’. Despite such assertions, some international legal experts continue to question the covert drone campaign, arguing that the strikes amount to little more than state-sanctioned extra-judicial executions. Justification Surprisingly, after almost a decade of drone attacks outside the battlefield, the question of their legality has never been tested in a US or international court, even when US citizens have been targeted. The Obama administration has however sought to present some legal justification for its actions. Harold Koh, a legal adviser at the State Department, became the first senior US official to engage with the question in a March 2010 speech. He told an audience of lawyers that ‘US targeting practices, including lethal operations conducted with the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, comply with all applicable law, including the laws of war.’ US drone strikes, Koh claimed, were…