The Obama Administration has increasingly turned to drones (or in the case of Bin Laden, Navy Seals) to wage what the Bush Administration had called the “war on terror.” At the same time that President Obama has claimed that “justice” demands extraterritorial killings of named individuals, he has rejected other counter-terrorism tools used by the former Administration, such as water-boarding. What is the moral case for such distinctions? Does either the U.S. Constitution or international law permit targeted killings, whether or not the target is a U.S. national? Does it matter whether the USG engages in such acts only on a recognized battlefield (e.g., Afghanistan vs. Yemen or Pakistan), uses particular methods (unmanned drones vs. members of the U.S. military), or does so only with the consent of the territorial sovereign?
Philip G. Alston, John Norton Pomeroy Professor of Law, NYU School of Law
Richard H. Pildes, Sudler Family Professor of Constitutional Law, NYU School of Law
Jeremy Waldron, University Professor, NYU School of Law
J.E. Alvarez, Herbert and Rose Rubin Professor of International Law, NYU School of Law