John Brennan Speech on “Strikes Targeted at Individual Members of Al-Qa’ida”

by Marty Lederman

Brennan’s speech, given today at the Wilson International Center, can be found here.  I don’t have time to blog about it now; but in any event, it is more detailed than the previous Administration statements on the same subject and I think it largely speaks for itself.  Substantive comments welcome.

http://opiniojuris.org/2012/04/30/john-brennan-speech-on-strikes-targeted-at-individual-members-of-al-qaida/

One Response

  1. The language of the speech appears to focus on high value target aspects of the drone strategy which I understand are called “profile” strikes. 

    Yet, we know that the CIA just asked for and received expanded authorization to do “signature” type drone strikes.  From what is publicly available the signature strikes are not ones where one has actionable intelligence of the higher level of a profile strike but rather one has a series of pieces of evidence that are consistent with the kind of person who does or wants to do bad things against the United States – or the signature of a bad guy.  But some people who walk like a terrorist and squawk like a terrorist may give a signature like a terrorist, but not be either an imminent or significant threat or be a terrorist. 

    Brennan appears to paperover that distinction in the targeting while attempting to reassure us that everything is being done in the appropriate way.

    I am bothered by actions done in any country other than Afghanistan that are done without consent of the local country under the dubious “unable or unwilling” rationalization.  That a country consents or acquiesces after the fact (assuming the country has autonomy and is not occupied) in that action is one thing – the evidence of an “unable or unwilling” standard does appear to be thin gruel.

    I will not repeat my qualms with Jane Harman here which I mentioned several years ago over at Jurist based on my 2005 experience with her down at Duke.

    Not that anyone in this hierarchy pays attention to these comments.

    Best,
    Ben

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