The Drone Wars
David Cortright, the policy director of the Kroc Institute for International PeaceStudies at Notre Dame has posted an article to CNN.com looking at the prospect of the wide-spread proliferation of drone warfare. He begins:
Drone technology is spreading rapidly. As many as 50 countries are developing or purchasing these systems, including China, Russia, India, Pakistan, and Iran.
Even non-state actors are involved. Hezbollah reportedly has deployed an Iranian-designed drone. Iran is developing a new drone aircraft with a range of more than 600 miles. These systems are used mostly for surveillance, but it is not difficult to equip the aircraft with missiles and bombs…
After discussing the risks of proliferation and the problem of mistaking a startegy of drone strikes for counterterrorism policy, he turns to the legal issues:
Many important legal questions have been raised about drone strikes. The U.S. government arguably has legal authority to conduct military operations in Afghanistan, based on the original congressional authorization adopted after 9/11. It is questionable, however, whether this authority extends to Pakistan, a country that is supposedly an ally of the United States. Nor do we have legal authority to launch military strikes in Yemen, Somalia and other countries where the United States is not officially engaged in armed hostilities.
Force may be used by soldiers against combatants in legally authorized armed conflicts, but this right does not extend to civilians. The U.S. covert counterterrorism drone campaign is managed and operated by the CIA, an agency notorious for its past policy failures and violations of the law. Those who are conducting these raids operate in secret beyond the restraints of military discipline and are not subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Well, there are lost of issues that get blended in here. Most interesting, I think, is the CIA’s management of drone strikes. In just about anything the Agency does, the question of adequate legal oversight persists. Why use the CIA as opposed to one of the armed forces? While I am more willing than Cortright to include drones as part of our counterterrorism/ warfighting tactics, that does not mean that the CIA should be be in charge as opposed to one of the armed services. Or am I missing something?