Signature Strikes: Everything Old Is New Again
I’m currently writing an article for the Journal of International Criminal Justice on the legality of signature drone strikes under international humanitarian law and international human rights law. I will link to the article when it’s done (two weeks or so), but I couldn’t resist posting the following quotes — the first from the New York Times, describing the Obama administration’s definition of “combatant” for purposes of signature strikes; the second by Lt. William Calley, whose orders led to the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War:
NYT: “Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties that did little to box him in. It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent. Counterterrorism officials insist this approach is one of simple logic: people in an area of known terrorist activity, or found with a top Qaeda operative, are probably up to no good.”
Lt. Calley: “If those people weren’t all VC then prove it to me. Show me that someone helped us and fought the VC. Show me that someone wanted us: one example only! I didn’t see any… Our task force commander’s staff said it’s a VC area and everyone there was a VC or a VC sympathizer. And that’s because he just isn’t young enough or old enough to do anything but sympathize.”
Bad ideas, unfortunately, never go out of style.