March 10, 2013
The American public still does not know how the Obama administration legally justifies its vast killing program. But thanks to years of quietly accumulating political pressure, mounting criticism from important US allies, and a very public airing of widely-held concerns last night, that may soon change.
The United States has reportedly killed 4,700 people in “war on terror” operations outside of declared war zones. On Wednesday, the European Parliament heard a special briefing on the US kill programs from the ACLU’s Hina Shamsi and the UN’s special rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights, Ben Emmerson. Following the briefing, the parliamentarians issued a statement calling into question the legality (and morality) of US strikes. The United States cannot hide its legal justification for these operations from the world any longer, they wrote:
“We are deeply concerned about the legal basis, as well as the moral, ethical and human rights implications of the United States’ targeted killing programme that authorises the CIA and the military to hunt and kill individuals who have suspected links to terrorism anywhere in the world.
“There are a growing number of reports demonstrating that hundreds of civilians are being killed in the framework of the targeted killing program. This is being done without any transparency in justification of a ‘wartime’ policy. We urge our American allies to address the pressing questions over the legal criteria at the basis of a policy that, in targeting so-called militants, destroys both innocent human beings and our common legal heritage.”
[...] One has to wonder what the Obama administration is hiding in the legal memos justifying its killing operations. If everything the US is doing is truly above board and complies with international and domestic law, why don’t officials release the memos?
This article was posted: Sunday, March 10, 2013 at 4:28 pm