i) Earlier this week, NBC news released a leaked DOJ white paper offering a legal justification of the US’s drone killing program. Jameel Jaffer of the ACLU has a response well worth reading. Juan Cole’s analysis can be found here. Having read the paper myself, my only comment at the moment is that the supposed legal basis for drone killings is unmistakably flimsy, and is founded on the stretching and twisting of legal norms and definitions. My previous post on Stephen Groves’s article offers a good basis from which readers can then analyze the white paper themselves.
NOTE: As noted by Jaffer, the white paper is a briefing paper for the still secret 50-page memo that offers the actual justifications for the drone killings.
Given the government’s undue secrecy about the drone program, which it has never officially acknowledged the existence of, and that program’s great significance to America’s foreign policy, its national security, and its influence on the tumultuous Middle East, The Times ought to be reporting as much and as aggressively as possible on it.
Sullivan rightfully eviscerated the paper in October of last year for failing to” aggressively [challenge] the administration’s description of those killed as ‘militant’ — itself an undefined term.”
It is important to consider the potential implications of an American drone base in Saudi Arabia. Osama Bin Laden, for instance, was incensed by arrival of “crusaders” in the Holy Land during the Gulf War and declared in a fatwa:
Today your brothers and sons, the sons of the two Holy Places, have started their Jihad in the cause of Allah, to expel the occupying enemy from of the country of the two Holy places.
As the BBC notes in its report, the deployment of US forces to Saudi Arabia was “one of the main reasons given by [Osama Bin Laden] to justify violence against the US and its allies.” And now, the US has a drone base there for assassinating Muslims in surrounding areas, in total violation of international law.