The Obama Administration, Drone Strikes, And The Law

The Obama administration’s argument on drone warfare. Even against Americans. We push deeper on drones, killing, and the law.

 In this Jan. 31, 2010 file photo, an unmanned U.S. Predator drone flies over Kandahar Air Field, southern Afghanistan, on a moon-lit night. (AP)

In this Jan. 31, 2010 file photo, an unmanned U.S. Predator drone flies over Kandahar Air Field, southern Afghanistan, on a moon-lit night. (AP)

It’s been a great ride for advocates of America’s booming kill-‘em-where-they-stand drone program.  Kill lists.  Targeted assassination.  Death from the sky.  No muss, no fuss.  All secrecy, and then the public victory dance when a big al Qaeda kill is claimed, somewhere “over there.”  Even of American citizens.

Barack Obama skewered George Bush and Dick Cheney for going “extra-legal,” but President Obama has been the champion of drones.  And “don’t ask” has been the policy when it comes to legal rationale.

This hour, On Point:  we’re asking, about American law and death by drone.

-Tom Ashbrook


Julian Barnes, Pentagon correspondent for the Wall Street Journal. (@julianbarnes)

Matthew Waxman, professor of law and co-chair of the program on law and national security at Columbia University. Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU’s Center for Democracy. (@jameeljaffer)

Closing Segment on the Pope’s Resignation

Scott Appleby, professor of history and director of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

From Tom’s Reading List

Time Magazine “As you might expect from a public hearing about the activities of the CIA, John Brennan’s Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday was not exactly a font of detailed information about America’s intelligence and counter-terror operations. In an afternoon when he maintained a tough resolve against occasionally testy Senate questioners—Chuck Hagel could learn a few things from this guy!—Brennan revealed virtually nothing new about drones, torture or the war on al Qaeda.”

CNN “The 16-page white paper — titled ‘Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a U.S. Citizen who is a Senior Operational Leader of Al Qaida or an Associated Force’ — is a policy paper rather than an official legal document. The president, the official said, was turning over the information because he believes the scrutiny and debate is healthy.”

The Atlantic “The future of drone warfare, in other words, is frighteningly futuristic. It’s not just happening in the sky either. Soon enough, we’ll have four-legged robots on the battlefield and surveillance submarines patrolling the oceans.”

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