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The White Paper and its Critics

Someone for reasons unknown last week leaked the classified Department of JusticeWhite Paper” on targeting with drone attacks the numerically tiny number of US citizens overseas who have joined al Qaida or affiliated groups. The leak set off an outburst of public debate, much of it ill-informed by people who did not bother to read the white paper and some of it intentionally misleading by those who had and, frankly, know better.

Generally, I’m a harsh critic of the Holder DOJ, but their white paper, though not without some minor flaws of reasoning and one point of policy, is – unlike some of the critics – solidly in compliance with the laws of war, broader questions of international law and the major SCOTUS decisions on war powers. It was a political error to classify this document in the first place rather than properly share it with the relevant Congressional committees conducting oversight

Here it is and I encourage you to read it for yourself:

Lawfulness of Lethal Operation Directed Against a US Citizen Who is a Senior Operational Leader of al-Qa’ida

Much of this white paper debate has been over a legitimate policy dispute (“Is it a good idea if we use drones to kill AQ terrorists, including American ones?”) intentionally being mischaracterized by opponents of the policy (or the war) as a legal or constitutional question. It is not. The law is fairly settled as is the question if the conflict with AQ rises to a state of armed conflict, which SCOTUS dealt with as recently as Hamdi and for which there are ample precedents from previous wars and prior SCOTUS decisions to build upon. At best, framed as a legal dispute, the opponents of the drone policy would have a very long uphill climb with the Supreme Court. So why do it?

The reason, as I discern it, is substituting a legalistic argument and judicial process (“FISA court to decide drone killings”) to conceal what is really a debate over American war policy   and the President’s war powers in order to accrue domestic political advantage or at least avoid paying the costs of advocating a potentially unpopular position. Otherwise, opponents have to argue on the merits that the US should not as a matter of policy kill al Qaida terrorists sheltered by Pakistan or beyond the reach of government control in Yemen. Or that we are not “really” at war or that Federal judges are better suited for picking bombing targets than Air Force and CIA analysts and that “due process” should apply to enemy combatants on the battlefield. Many of these arguments are valid ones to raise and debate but are unlikely to be persuasive to the public or Congress; if they were, they would have prevailed in 2010 (drones) or 2001 (“are we at war?).

A straightforward legal analysis begins and stops with ascertaining whether or not we are in a state of armed conflict with al Qaida. The white paper used a “kitchen sink” approach to try and cover all legal bases, perhaps to create a basis for a later freewheeling peacetime use of armed drones – which incidentally, I am not in favor of – but it is not required here and actually distracts from the strongest legal argument – the administration is lawfully fighting an enemy in an armed conflict declared by Congress.
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If we are in an armed conflict under international law with al Qaida – and the evidence appears here in fact, legislative action, context, historical and legal precedent to be overwhelming – renders most of the other justifications cited in the white paper for the policy regarding due process as well as nearly all of the criticisms of it moot, at least in terms of legality. Wartime enemy combatants are in a qualitatively different legal status vis-a-vis the United States government acting as a belligerent than are non-combatants or are civilians in peacetime (even civilians who commit criminal acts). No American citizen has a right to pick up arms and join an enemy army or armed group during a war, period. Or a subsequent right to be treated as anything but a combatant if they do. Combatant status is not determined by nationality under international law but by behavior and adherence to a belligerent party’s military forces and their physical disposition ( hors d’ combat, in the act of surrender etc.).
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American citizens fought in enemy armies, notably the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS, against the United States in WWII and a handful defected to the enemy in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. While some of these men were tried for treason after these wars ended, others were treated as enemy POWs or simply allowed to come home at a later date, but none were accorded judicial due process *during* the conflict as potential targets of an American military attack. Only after capture, as with the saboteurs in the Ex Parte Quirin case, did judicial review and due process come in to play.. We see a similar phenomena with the Civil War where, even under the Lincolnian theory that the Confederacy merely represented “Combinations too powerful to be suppressed” (i.e. a private insurrectionist conspiracy and not the states themselves as corporate, legal, sovereign entities in rebellion), we do not see SCOTUS insisting on normal, civilian, judicial due process in Ex Parte Milligan except where “civil courts are in operation” (i.e. away from the battlefield). This was to prevent the application of martial law in civilian areas in the North, not to stop martial law in theater or occupational zones.
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Had this issue of due process for active enemy combatants been raised during WWII or even Vietnam, it would have been likely (and properly) regarded by US officials as ludicrous; if true, the logic would imply that enemy units could immunize themselves from attack (or substantially delay them)  by recruiting American citizens into their ranks. It would also beg the question why the US could lawfully bomb enemy targets and risk killing American POWs via collateral damage, but not directly target enemy fighters who happened to be American citizens. It would further beg the question why it would be lawful to indirectly target an American citizen in a group of enemy fighters with, say, artillery or gravity bombs from 52,000 feet but be an unlawful violation of due process to aim at him directly with a drone missile or a sniper rifle. Is a Marine rifleman who happens upon Adam Gadahn in Afghanistan and kills him therefore an “assassin” (to use Glenn Greenwald’s description of targeted killings) to be charged with murder?
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Even as a matter of “due process” (!) – never mind fighting a war – how could this legal argument possibly make any sense? What precedent under military law or international law from prior conflicts supports it?
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How would inserting judicial review – even SCOTUS – over operational planning and target selection as a step in the President’s exercise of his Constitutional authority as Commander-in-Chief likely to affect the Separation of Powers? This is not a trivial question – in military terms it is analogous to the judiciary usurping the position of the Rules Committee in the House of Representatives over legislative matters. How would this innovation impact our ability to fight our next war or wars?
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Much like the white paper’s lengthy, but entirely irrelevant discourse into the nature of threat “imminence” and “breadth”, this argument is sheer invention if a state of armed conflict with al Qaida exists. Most criticisms and not a few of the white paper’s own legal justifications consist of novel restraints alien to the historical practice of states prosecuting an armed conflict that we would be extremely unwise to adopt and sanctify as precedents for waging future wars.
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Let us take one of the more intellectually serious and responsible expert critics as an example, Steve Vladeck of American University. Not everything he has to say in his lengthy post is wrong and I even agree with some of his points, but things like this strike me as specious, or at least a very weak reed upon which to rest an argument that alters the constitutional balance:
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….First, many of us who argue for at least some judicial review in this context specifically don’t argue for ex ante review for the precise reasons the white paper suggests. Instead, we argue for ex postreview–in the form of damages actions after the fact, in which liability would only attach if the government both (1) exceeded its authority; and (2) did so in a way that violated clearly established law. Whatever else might be said about such damages suits, they simply don’t raise the interference concerns articulated in the white paper, and so one would have expected some distinct explanation for why that kind of judicial review shouldn’t be available in this context. All the white paper offers, though, is its more general allusion to the political question doctrine. Which brings me to…

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Second, and in any event, the suggestion that lawsuits arising out of targeted killing operations against U.S. citizens raise a nonjusticiable political question is almost laughable–and is the one part of this white paper that really does hearken back to the good ole’ days of the Bush Administration (I’m less sold on any analogy based upon the rest of the paper). Even before last Term’s Zivotofsky decision, in which the Supreme Court went out of its way to remind everyone (especially the D.C. Circuit) of just how limited the political question doctrine really should be, it should’ve followed that uses of military force against U.S. citizens neither “turn on standards that defy the judicial application,” nor “involve the exercise of a discretion demonstrably committed to the executive or legislature.” Indeed, in the context of the Guantánamo habeas litigation, courts routinely inquire into the very questions that might well arise in such a damages suit, e.g., whether there is sufficient evidence to support the government’s conclusion that the target is/was a senior operational leader of al Qaeda or one of its affiliates…

My first criticism would be that Vladeck’s premise that the question of a targeting decision of an American citizen who is a senior leader of al Qaida during a state of armed conflict who is active outside the territory of the United States is a matter for adjudication by US courts is incorrect. He is essentially arguing that the political question doctrine does not cover the exercise of the Constitutionally specified war-making powers of the executive and legislative branches during a war. I am highly skeptical this is an argument any Supreme Court would entertain lightly, much less the Roberts Court.
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My second criticism is more practical – that Vladeck in seeking judicial review of the decision process by which an American citizen is determined to be senior or not senior leader in al Qaida leadership is a distinction without a difference from a court having a priori judicial review of the larger military operation in wartime but with the added detriment of exposing the intelligence process, to discovery. Targeting decisions involve assessment of intel about the target from a variety of perspectives – confidence, effect, probability of success/costs and the “fusion” of (usually) USAF and IC in a targeteering shop. Why  judicial scrutiny should apply only to drone strikes targeting a specific US citizen among other al Qaida operatives in wartime vice simply bombing an al Qaida safe house in which a US citizen might be employs a legal reasoning that is obscure to me. If a US citizen being a potential casualty is the critical constitutional variable here, then not also judicial review of a bayonet charge?
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The proposal for judicial review of potential attacks during an armed conflict (not peacetime) is rife with a host of counterproductive second and third order constitutional and military effects. It represents a sweeping change in our political order by a technical legal fiat. It would also be an exceedingly dumb way to run a war. It might test our powers of imagination, but somehow, we faced down Hitler and the Imperial Japanese without Federal judges running our strategic bombing campaigns.
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This preference for legalistic arguments is partly a product of over representation of lawyers among the American political elite. Highly competent attorneys are very skilled at framing arguments on behalf of clients so that they begin litigation not only from a favorable explicitly stated position but, where possible, with several layers of one-sided implicit premises built in that you accept uncritically only at your peril. When a lawyer comes into a public policy debate saying that a political question is a legal question, he is making a political argument to remove a political dispute in a democratic polity to the courts where the matter will be decided under very different procedures and will remain as a legal question thereafter.
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Sometimes, this is the constitutionally correct thing to do; more often, it is simply an expedient thing to do that diminishes democratic accountability while rendering policy and process needlessly more complex and adversarial than even open public debate. It is also a self-aggrandizing feedback loop for lawyers as a class – when all political questions are legal questions, then should we not all defer to their superior expertise and training? It is the road to technocracy and the rule of law becoming “rule by lawyers”.
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Does that mean the critics have no point whatsoever regarding the use of drones in “targeted killings”? No. The idea that targeting American citizens is bad *policy* because it might, for example, be poorly employed against innocent people by mistake or, in slippery slope fashion, lead to a normalization and extension of the practice of targeted killing outside of an officially recognized armed conflict is a completely valid *political* argument. It is even, in my view, a very wise caution. It just does not hold water as a legal argument on behalf American citizens who go overseas and pick up arms and wage war against the US by joining al Qaida.
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More importantly, there are better, simpler remedies to a “slippery slope” with drone attacks that can be employed legislatively and through vigorous oversight that can be enacted that will strengthen rather than undermine and confuse our constitutional system of governance. First, the Obama administration, for it’s part, should allay critics fears by removing “targeted killings” from the arbitrary hands of unnamed “senior officials” (code for the President? The National Security Adviser? A random White House lawyer?) and either return to a more traditional Pentagon target assessment procedure or use the NSC process with a PDD/NSDD and a properly and timely “finding” being presented to Congress.
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Secondly, the proper body to review the judgement of the administration in tactics, operations, and strategy is not the judicial branch, but the legislative, which has done so in prior conflicts and holds the power of the purse to control the extent of campaigns and the raising of armies. The Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War was the oversight mechanism the Congress employed during the Civil War to review and influence the actions of the Lincoln administration. I would argue that the US Congress is more than sufficient to do the same task today with a far less existential conflict, if it chose to do so. Congress could, if it wished, forbid these operations or cease funding them. Quite pointedly, they have done neither.
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If Congress does not engage in rigorous oversight, it does not follow that a Federal Court is the appropriate constitutional substitute for Congress abdicating it’s wartime responsibilities. Targeted killings of enemy combatants during a declared armed conflict is a question of war policy, not due process, and is the purview of the political branches, not the judiciary
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Thirdly, the “slippery slope” danger is genuine and should be interdicted with legislation prohibiting or severely restricting the use of armed drones at home or forbidding their use against civilians resident in the territory of the United States entirely. A definition from Congress of under which circumstances that terrorism is a matter for law enforcement or military action is something that is likewise years overdue.
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Congress should be taking up it’s weighty responsibilities in war policy and not punting them to the executive or the judiciary, so that the actions of the US government in a matter of extreme gravity like a war are constitutionally clothed in democratic consent.
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14 Responses to “The White Paper and its Critics”

  1. Mithras Says:

    “A straightforward legal analysis begins and stops with ascertaining whether or not we are in a state of armed conflict with al Qaida.”

    There is no natural limit on such a principal, which is reason enough to doubt it. Would it be beyond judicial review for the executive branch to decide that a U.S. citizen on U.S. territory is a “senior operational leader of al Qa’ida” and can therefore be summarily killed? By saying “the ‘slippery slope’ danger is genuine”, you imply it would be. And if the notion of such a killing offends your sensibilities, then maybe there is a flaw in the premise. 

    This matter is far murkier than your bright-line rule would suggest. This is nowhere near the paradigm of a declared war involving uniformed militaries; in that case, the only real constraint on action is political. In this situation, Congress’s declaration that we are in an armed conflict with an amorphous non-state actor cannot trump valid constitutional concerns. Allowing Congress to decide when individual rights attach and when they don’t would be a dangerous precedent. I agree that Congress should act in this area. But if it fails to, or if its action is inadequate to protect constitutional rights of U.S. citizens, then we have to have ex post judicial review. 

  2. Mithras Says:

    Jeez, “principle.” 

  3. T. Greer Says:

    “Much of this white paper debate has been over a legitimate policy dispute (“Is it a good idea if we use drones to kill AQ terrorists, including American ones?”) intentionally being mischaracterized by opponents of the policy (or the war) as a legal or constitutional question. ”

    The nature of the problem inevitably turns the first problem into the second.

    Consider the concession found in the following sentence, taken from your thoughts above:

    “The proposal for judicial review of potential attacks during an armed conflict (not peacetime) is rife with a host of counterproductive second and third order constitutional and military effects.”

    You agree that review of assassination decisions should differ during war time and peace time. The problem: when will this peace time be? And where? Sure, this really is a debate over war powers, but does that change things? The debatees are not at a consensus on what war means. From the view of the dissenters, the disturbing aspect of the white paper is not just that it precludes oversight, but that it stretches the meanings of “imminence” and “base of operations” until they do not mean anything at all. All of the world is a battlefield, anybody the executive deems is “planning attacks against the U.S.” (p. 9) is a combatant, and over sight – Judicial or Congressional – is not needed. Perhaps if this was a war that could be won in a few years and then put behind us the dissenters might let all of that fly, but this is not the case. The war has no end. As I see it, by placing such emphasis on the legal aspect of this debacle those who fight the white paper put the question in sharp focus: what place or purpose do Constitutional constraints like the 4th and 5th amendments have in a republic that is forever in a state of war?

  4. L. C. Rees Says:

    Terminological obfuscation and proliferation are signs that the political interests of various groups are best served by declaring war on bright lines. True, today’s world is complex. But there are many that make it deliberately more complex than needed so that their faction can win more power. Forcing combatants to wear the livery of their employer unless they wanted to be killed without trial and executed in a shameful way (e.g. Major John Andre was hung as a spy instead of shot like a soldier because he was wearing civilian clothes when captured. His attempt to hedge by wearing his uniform under those clothes didn’t count.) was the deliberate imposition of simplicity on the complex phenomenon of war. Regularizing irregulars as was done in the late 20th century, probably at the behest of leftists who sympathized with “freedom fighters” (i.e. people who agreed with them), has reopened the door and re-let in complexity that European armies pretty much mitigated for 200 years. The murk will not be cleared until if and when that simplicity is reestablished. While it suits the political interests of many constituencies at home and abroad to keep the lines blurred and war more complex than necessary, this trend is unlikely to be reversed.

    BTW, welcome back Brother Greer. 

  5. Duncan Kinder Says:

    Any argument about drones that assumes that the United States will have a monopoly or anything like that would be ill founded.

  6. zen Says:

    Hi Gents – great comments! And welcome back T. Greer!
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    Mithras,
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    In a nutshell, my position is the proposed cure will have far-reaching negative consequences worse than the disease, for which there are more obvious and existing remedies. The proposal is akin to giving a patient massive doses of radiation because they started smoking cigarettes based on the premise that smoking could lead to cancer. 
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    We have an actual and a hypothetical situation here and while related, they are not the same under either international law or or our domestic constitutional legal system.
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    The actual situation dealt with by the white paper is a state of armed conflict only so far as it exists outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States in which a very few American citizens have joined the enemy as combatants. The Laws of war and broader international law govern here as to defining lawful military targets, non-combatants, war crimes, sovereignty, proportionality and similar issues. To the extent that national law is applicable, it is primarily in the form of the UCMJ and the chain of SCOTUS decisions that tend to focus more on the tangential exercises of military power in issues such as POWs, military justice etc. that take place after hostilities. Operational issues of combat and command are given the broadest possible deference by SCOTUS. This is the legal record and it is not at all murky. 
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    Now you have posed an interesting hypothetical question: “Would it be beyond judicial review for the executive branch to decide that a U.S. citizen on U.S. territory is a “senior operational leader of al Qa’ida” and can therefore be summarily killed?  “. My first answer is that a new legal analysis is required because a subnational conflict within one nation’s sovereign territory is different under international law in terms of a standard for being regarded as an armed conflict, combatant or a saboteur/spy status instead of being a mere criminal. In terms of domestic law, both SCOTUS and the US Congress have given this issue attention and direction they have not given to the conduct of foreign wars and there is a long historical record for the use of military force to weigh from the Civil War, the Indian Wars and the suppression of riots (ex. New York City Draft Riots). There is also a long history of traditional restraint in using military forces domestically that goes back to the founders. Considering all that, I would say it is probable SCOTUS would be more likely to weigh in on a domestic use of military force in a state of armed conflict (it doesn’t have to be drones, really, you are hardly better off if they shell your house with artillery)because the history seems to indicate that the court and Congress see it differently than a foreign war, but I think you would see the narrowness of application SCOTUS showed in Ex Parte Milligan, Quirin and Korematsu. We did not have due process at Antietam, after all. 
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    Incidentally, the legal authority to use military force doesn’t mean it has to be used or should be used. Even overseas under the AUMF, there is the accepted practice of using force in cooperation with sovereign nations even where we might have the right to do so unilaterally under “hot pursuit” or an inability of a state to control it’s territory and take action against AQ (Yemen, Somalia) or belligerent state proxies like the Taliban (Pakistan). Where a state is taking action against AQ, however ineffective from our POV and is otherwise uncooperative, we generally refrain from military operations (ex. Algeria, Iran). Using full scale military force against AQ inside the US is unwarranted until a group appears with military capabilities at least on par with a major narco-cartel that can outgun and outfight local and Federal law enforcement.
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    In peacetime, a use of military force against terrorists or some other domestic group would certainly be subject to judicial review if challenged by someone with standing. The executive would be acting alone and arguably outside it’s statutory authorities (depending on the circumstances) as well as the issue of Federalism. 
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  7. zen Says:

    Hi T. Greer
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    Consider the concession found in the following sentence, taken from your thoughts above:

    “The proposal for judicial review of potential attacks during an armed conflict (not peacetime) is rife with a host of counterproductive second and third order constitutional and military effects.”

    You agree that review of assassination decisions should differ during war time and peace time. The problem: when will this peace time be? And where? Sure, this really is a debate over war powers, but does that change things? The debatees are not at a consensus on what war means. 


    Well, people disagree on many things. Some people think abortion is murder and however that is to be considered morally, by legal standards abortion is not murder in the United States. War under international law is “a state of armed conflict” and that standard applies whether people wish to believe it or not. Likewise the Congress has authorized military action using it’s power to declare war – that is not changed in a statutory sense by not using the phrase “declare war” except in that an AUMF can be later revoked or modified. But as far as international law is concerned, it’s an armed conflict to which the laws of war apply to the belligerents.
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    The limiting factor is not the duration but the belligerent parties. The AUMF greenlights war with al Qaida, not Hezbollah, the Zetas, Joseph Kony, the Aryan Brotherhood or North Korea. Any other conflict into which the USG enters is a separate issue for the executive and legislative branches to work out. If the legislative branch is passive, the executive is apt to take advantage, but the solution is greater activity by the Congress, not giving the judiciary a de facto veto of war powers. I’m not in favor of that any more than I would be the Senate declaring itself to be a judicial body that can set aside verdicts and hear cases.

  8. zen Says:

    Duncan – I would say “military operations” is probably the real issue and “drones” are only the shiny new object
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    LC – I basically agree with your normative assessment of motivations and the solution. Bright lines between war and peace, regular and irregular  -ok, really lawful and unlawful conduct – needs to be repainted. We essentially have a transnational political lobby for using double standards that work to the advantage of irregulars and incentivize their committing war crimes. Really, IEDs are less discriminatory than targeted drone strikes and they primarily kill noncombatants but the anti-drone lobby is usually conspicuous by their silence about them

  9. J. Scott Shipman Says:

    Hi Duncan,
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    You’re on to something. Wrapping these strikes with a semblance of constitutional legality will have unintended consequences when our adversaries possess a similar capability and similar, justifiable desires.  

  10. L. C. Rees Says:

    Hey Scott:

    I doubt this will have any unintended consequences when our adversaries have similar capabilities and similar, justifiable desires: the consequences, when they come, will be quite intentional.

    Our adversaries already have similar, justifiable desires. It is the nature of conflict that, having such desires, they will then strive (and, indeed, must strive) to acquire the capability (disimilar and hence potentially “asymmetric” if they can but similar if they must) to satiate those desires. Once, having both desire and capability, our adversaries figure they can use capability to win desire and survive, they will use it. It is also in the nature of conflict that they will find ample ways to justify such use when they needed, however lame we might find those justifications.

    Your argument about the unintentional consequences of unleashing a capability can be applied to and illustrated with equal accuracy to the Left’s re-unleashing of francs-tireurs mid-century through Comintern funding, romantic Che t-shirt agitprop, and extending the Geneva Convention, et al. to better protect their tools. Some on the Left who anticipated blowback from this policy when their adversaries took up the francs-tireur cross and used it to fight back against and even (temporarily, they hoped) reverse Leftist gains.

    And blowback has occurred: Islamist francs-tireurs have harried and even destroyed fellow traveler regimes like South Yemen, Afghanistan, and others in the Greater Mideast. Former “progressive” regimes in that region have tried to adapt by wrapping themselves tightly in the banner of Islam even if if that banner is as much a flag of convenience as their former allegiance to the Left and is as unconvincing to the opinion (and ambition) of hardcore Islamism.

    But the Left still sees more gain in encouraging francs-tireurism than loss as they fight the good fight against the Great Satan. Even what’s Left in the West has selectively taken up the same cross (or crescent) of convenience and cheered on Islamic francs-tireurs whose beliefs they claim to abhor when they lack a more fashionable ally to cheer on. The enemy of my enemy is my friend of convenience. Popular fronts are equal opportunity aggregators: precedent generously allows Molotov-Ribbentrop flavored-popular fronts if the Great Cause demands.

    The solution is found in disrupting and even destroying the moral, mental, and physical cohesion of the politics that justifies and even glorifies the sort of creepy-crawly conflict that uses drones and francs-tireurs. That flavor of politics allows war to spill over the bulwarks the eighteenth and nineteenth century erected to artificially separate war and peace in the name of enforcing civilized behavior by imposing simple heuristics upon it. We in the West often assume the line between conventional and unconventional and regular and irregular is natural. It isn’t. Someone, at the price of great expenditure of pain, blood, and treasure, built it for us. It is but one more sign of the chronic irresponsibility of our current generation of vipers that they so glibly tear down a wall that was so intricately designed and so painfully built and call it liberation.

  11. J.ScottShipman Says:

    Hi LC,
    .
    The scenario I had in mind was something akin to Russia or China using drones to whack one of their citizens on our territory whom they deem to be a “terrorist.” While we’re not operating in either country, we are setting an “out in the open” precedent.
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    Our monopoly on both autonomous unmanned systems and precision munitions is ending, so the tables will eventually be turned. Concur with much of what you said, but was thinking of near/peer competitors. 

  12. L. C. Rees Says:

    Hey Scott,

    I doubt such a scenario would happen so long as the United States has both the will and the means to defend the territory it claims to exercise sovereignty over. As immigration and stormed embassies and consulates show, sometimes we’re minus the will even when we have the means.

    But sometimes the means is lacking. Our current crop of killer drones is fragile. They only operate effectively in permissible airspace. Airspace is only permissible if those who control the preponderance of force within it consent to let it be so (Pakistan), partially consent (Yemen), can’t resist even if they wanted to (Mali), or don’t exist (Somalia). If we tried to drone-whack one of our citizens within the territory of a peer competitor, we’d have a roboticized Francis Gary Powers incident on our hands.

    If a peer competitor sought confrontation, they’d do so with weapons and on terrain that they presumably had some hope of success with or on. Russia or China will continue to whack their citizens living on our soil the old-fashioned, lower-profile way. Who needs drones when you have bullets, poison umbrellas, and polonium?

    In Russa, we cook you from inside.

  13. J. Scott Shipman Says:

    Hi LC,
    .
    For now, I would agree on the issue of permissibility and fragile technology. However, as these devices become smaller and more difficult to track/control, things could get interesting. 

  14. T. Greer Says:

    Incidentally, it seems that Congress has been providing more oversight than heretofore supposed:

    Congressmen Rogers on Congressional (and Personal) Oversight of Obama Drone Program
    Jack Goldsmith. Lawfare. 12 Feb 2013.

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