UN Expert Calls On US To Halt CIA Targeted Killings
Report Underscores Illegal Nature Of Program, Says ACLU
NEW YORK - Targeted killings, including the use of
drones, are increasingly used in ways that violate international law,
according to a report out today by a U.N. expert on extrajudicial
killings. The American Civil Liberties Union said the report underscores
the alarming legal questions raised by the U.S. program of targeting
and killing people – including U.S. citizens – sometimes far from any
According to the report by U.N.
special rapporteur Philip Alston, which will be presented to the U.N.
Human Rights Council Thursday, while targeted killings may be permitted
in armed conflict situations when used against combatants, fighters or
civilians who directly engage in combat-like activities, they are
increasingly being used far from any battlefield. The report states that
"this strongly asserted but ill-defined license to kill without
accountability is not an entitlement which the United States or other
States can have without doing grave damage to the rules designed to
protect the right to life and prevent extrajudicial killings."
Alston also criticized the U.S.
invocation of the "law of 9/11," which it uses to justify the use of
force outside of armed-conflict zones as part of the so-called global
war on terrorism. The report called for the United States and other
countries to end the "accountability vacuum" by disclosing the full
legal basis for targeted killings and specifically the measures in place
to ensure wrongful killings are investigated, prosecuted and punished.
"The U.S. should heed the
recommendations of the rapporteur and disclose the full legal basis of
the U.S. targeted killings program, and it should abide by international
law. The entire world is not a battlefield, and the government cannot
use quintessentially warlike measures anywhere in the world that it
believes a suspected terrorist might be located," said Jamil Dakwar,
Director of the ACLU Human Rights Program. "The Obama administration has
pledged to lead by example and restore respect for rule of law, but
U.S. targeted killings are impeding U.S. leadership on human rights and
sending the message that some causes can be fought outside the rule of
law and without transparency and accountability."
The ACLU in March filed a Freedom of
Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit demanding that the government disclose
the legal basis for its use of unmanned drones to conduct targeted
killings overseas, and in April sent a letter to President Obama
condemning the U.S. policy on targeted killings and urging him to bring
it into compliance with international and domestic law.
"The U.S. program of targeted killing
outside of armed conflict zones is illegal and raises serious policy
questions that ought to be debated publicly," said Jonathan Manes, legal
fellow with the ACLU National Security Project. "In addition to the
legal basis, scope and limits of the program, the Obama administration
should disclose how many civilians have been killed, how the program is
overseen, and what accountability mechanisms exist over the CIA and
others who conduct the targeted killings."
More information about the ACLU's
FOIA lawsuit is available online at: www.aclu.org/national-
The ACLU's letter to Obama is
available at: www.aclu.org/human-rights-
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.