Pentagon Changed Military Commissions Rules to Legitimize Drone Program

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Rachel Myers, (212) 549-2689 or 2666; media@aclu.org

Pentagon Changed Military Commissions Rules to Legitimize Drone Program

Targeted Killing Program Remains Illegal, Says ACLU

NEW YORK - According to a report by the New York
Times today, the Obama administration changed a new manual on military
commissions rules to accommodate its illegal drone program. Under the
old rules, "murder in violation of the laws of war" was defined as
killings by people who did not meet "the requirements for lawful
combatancy," which would have suggested that CIA drone operators - who
are not members of the military and do not wear a military uniform -
could be charged with war crimes for killing individuals using drones.

The American Civil Liberties Union
maintains that the U.S. program of targeting and killing people,
sometimes far from any battlefield, with little oversight or
transparency is illegal regardless of the military commissions rules.

The following can
be attributed to Jonathan Manes, Legal Fellow in the ACLU National
Security Project:

"Attempts to fix the military
commissions rules to protect drone operators completely miss the point.
Targeting people for killing outside armed-conflict zones is illegal
regardless of who operates the drones, except in narrow circumstances
where lethal force is used against a person who poses a genuinely
imminent threat of death or grave physical harm, and there are no other
means available to prevent that threat.

"Changing the rules in order to
accommodate CIA drone strikes underscores the flaws in the entire
'global war on terror' paradigm. The entire world is not a battlefield.
The government cannot use quintessentially warlike measures - deploying
missiles and other offensive force - anywhere in the world that it
believes a suspected terrorist might be located."

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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