State Department, DoD Argue Over “Rules” for Drone Targets Outside Pakistan
Ed: Now that he’s on the mend from heart surgery, Jim is going to do some posting at EW. Welcome, Jim!
Charlie Savage notes in today’s New York Times that the Departments of State and Defense are engaged in an argument over the choosing of targets for drone attacks outside Pakistan. The primary point of contention centers on whether only high level al Qaeda figures in places like Yemen and Somalia can be targeted or if even low level operatives in these areas can be targeted there, just as they are in Pakistan.
Arguing for a more constrained approach is Harold Koh at the State Department:
The State Department’s top lawyer, Harold H. Koh, has agreed that the armed conflict with Al Qaeda is not limited to the battlefield theater of Afghanistan and adjoining parts of Pakistan. But, officials say, he has also contended that international law imposes additional constraints on the use of force elsewhere. To kill people elsewhere, he has said, the United States must be able to justify the act as necessary for its self-defense — meaning it should focus only on individuals plotting to attack the United States.
A more wide open approach is favored by Jeh Johnson at the Pentagon:
The Defense Department’s general counsel, Jeh C. Johnson, has argued that the United States could significantly widen its targeting, officials said. His view, they explained, is that if a group has aligned itself with Al Qaeda against Americans, the United States can take aim at any of its combatants, especially in a country that is unable or unwilling to suppress them.
Sensing an opportunity to add to his “tough on terrorism” credentials, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) can’t help but join in the DoD’s line of argument: Read more →