Drone strikes are legal and ethical: US
Last Updated: Tuesday, May 01, 2012, 12:42
  
Washington: The White House has categorically dismissed Pakistan's concerns on the drone strikes, as a top Obama aid describing it as a both "legal" and "ethical" tool to get dreaded terrorists.

"As a matter of international law, the United States is in an armed conflict with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces, in response to the 9/11 attacks, and we may also use force consistent with our inherent right of national self-defence," John Brennan, Assistant to the US President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism said yesterday.

"There is nothing in international law that bans the use of remotely piloted aircraft for this purpose or that prohibits us from using lethal force against our enemies outside of an active battlefield, at least when the country involved consents or is unable or unwilling to take action against the threat," Brennan said in his remarks at the Woodrow Wilson Center, a Washington-based think tank.

Broadly speaking, the debate over strikes targeted at individual members of al-Qaeda has centered on their legality, their ethics, the wisdom of using them, and the standards by which they are approved, he noted.

"These targeted strikes are legal," he asserted. "To briefly recap, as a matter of domestic law, the Constitution empowers the President to protect the nation from any imminent threat of attack," the US official said.

"The Authorisation for Use of Military Force -- the AUMF -- passed by Congress after the September 11th attacks authorises the president 'to use all necessary and appropriate force' against those nations, organizations and individuals responsible for 9/11. There is nothing in the AUMF that restricts the use of military force against al-Qaeda to Afghanistan," he said.

Brennan said the targeted strikes are ethical, adding, "It is useful to consider such strikes against the basic principles of the law of war that govern the use of force.

Targeted strikes, he argued, conform to the principle of necessity -- the requirement that the target have definite military value. "In this armed conflict, individuals who are part of al-Qaeda or its associated forces are legitimate military targets. We have the authority to target them with lethal force just as we targeted enemy leaders in past conflicts, such as German and Japanese commanders during World War II," he said.

Targeted strikes conform to the principle of distinction -- the idea that only military objectives may be intentionally targeted and that civilians are protected from being intentionally targeted, Brennan said.

PTI


First Published: Tuesday, May 01, 2012, 12:42


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