Rules For Drones

The law and American drones.  They’re killing all over.  What should the rules be?

A U.S. Predator unmanned drone armed with a missile stands on the tarmac of Kandahar military airport in Afghanistan. (AP)

A U.S. Predator unmanned drone armed with a missile stands on the tarmac of Kandahar military airport in Afghanistan. (AP)

American drones are a fixture of the global skies now. Pakistan and Yemen know it well. Hundreds of drone-fired missiles have come down out of the sky there. Thousands have died.

American drone warfare took off after 9.11, and accelerated sharply under President Barack Obama.

It has been Obama’s weapon of choice against Al Qaeda. But is it really legal, as 9.11 recedes and drone use spreads? And what kind of precedent is the United States setting for the future, when many nations have drones?

This hour, On Point: the law, and American drones.

-Tom Ashbrook


Julian Barnes, Pentagon correspondent for the Wall Street Journal.

John Bellinger, legal adviser to the Department of State from 2005 to 2009 under Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Senior Associate Counsel to the President and Legal Adviser to the National Security Council (NSC) at the White House from 2001-2005. Partner at Arnold & Porter law firm.  Adjunct Senior Fellow in International and National Security Law at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Jameel Jaffer, directed the National Security Project from 2007 – 2010 and is currently the Director of the ACLU’s Center for Democracy.

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times “Facing the possibility that President Obama might not win a second term, his administration accelerated work in the weeks before the election to develop explicit rules for the targeted killing of terrorists by unmanned drones, so that a new president would inherit clear standards and procedures, according to two administration officials.”

Time “It was only two days ago that Battleland posted a photo of the Navy’s X-47B Unmanned Combat Aircraft System demonstrator “landing” gently on the flight deck of the USS Harry S Truman – with help from a crane.”

Salon “The proliferation of drones in domestic law enforcement and beyond has been boosted on Capitol Hill by a 60-representative strong, bipartisan “drone caucus,” according to an investigative report by the Center for Responsive Politics and Hearst newspapers.”

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