Oral Testimony on Drones and Targeted Killing Before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights

A video of my and other witnesses’ oral testimony on the use of drones for targeted killing in the War Terror, before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights is now available here (just click on “webcast”). It was interesting for me to see that there was a broad consensus among the academic and ex-military witnesses on two key points: that the use of drones for targeted killing of terrorists is not inherently illegal or immoral, and that we need stronger safeguards to ensure that we are limiting drone strikes to legitimate military targets. It seems to me that many of the senators who asked questions – both Democrats and Republicans – were also sympathetic on these points. Whether this will lead to appropriate reforms remains to be seen.

I will try to post my written testimony by tomorrow.

UPDATE: You can also watch the hearing at the C-SPAN site here, though there are a few technical problems in that video that I noticed.

UPDATE #2: I do want to clarify one unfortunately ambiguous aspect of an answer I gave to a question by Sen. Michael Lee around 2:07:00 of the video at the Subcommittee website. I mentioned there that the Israeli government government has a judicial review mechanism for considering the legality of targeted killing decisions. I should have made clear that the Israeli system, as outlined in the Israeli High Court of Justice’s 2006 decision on the legality of targeted killing, establishes after-the-fact judicial review rather than judicial review in advance, of the kind contemplated in proposals to create a FISA-like court to review targeting decisions aimed at US citizens in advance. Both Sen. Lee’s question and the part of my answer that mentions Israel were ambiguous on the issue of the timing of judicial review. So I wanted to clarify that point here. As I noted later in my testimony, we cannot and should not simply copy all aspects of Israeli policy in this area, since their strategic situation and political system differ from ours. But we nonetheless should try to learn from their experience.

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