Why the President’s Targeted Killings are Illegal (According to Professor O’Connell)
Kevin has done, and is doing, a very nice job of critiquing the legality of the Obama Administration’s targeted killing policy. On the critical side, it is also worth noting the views of Mary Ellen O’Connell, Professor at Notre Dame, who has become a leading public critic of the legality of this policy. Her basic point is that international law only permits such killings on the battlefield, and any killings off of the battlefield (as she defines it) are illegal acts of extrajudicial murder. This would be true whether or not the U.S. actor is a privileged combatant. I think this makes sense, even if I doubt it is right. It does show, however, that the Obama and Bush Administration’s policies as to the nature of this war is pretty close (and getting closer). Because it is President Obama, and because he has folks like Harold Koh, Neal Katyal, and Marty Lederman to defend these views, I don’t think there will be nearly the same level of controversy as during the Bush years.