White House: Drone Strikes ‘Legal and Ethical’

Obama Aide: Constitution Makes Strikes Lawful Anywhere on Planet

Fresh off of an interview yesterday in which he shrugged off civilian killings in the US drone war, top White House adviser John O. Brennan was ordered to provide more “openness” on the program at a speech today in Washington.

This time, Brennan centered on the legality of the strikes, insisting that not only does the Constitution allow the president to assassinate people anywhere on the planet, but that the drone program was “legal, ethical and wise.”

Brennan went on to insist that there was “nothing in international law” that prohibits launching attacks on “enemies” outside of actual battlegrounds. Several organizations took issue with this and his other claims.

The ACLU took issue in particular with the claim that secret discussions within the executive branch on who to assassinate constituted “due process,” while urging the White House to release the Justice Department memos on how they came to the conclusion that such things were legal.

Amnesty International’s counterterrorism head Tom Parker, a former top British official, said that drones were clearly a “legitimate weapon of war” but said that there was a “problem” with declaring the whole planet a battlezone.

Human Rights Watch also criticized the comments, saying that “direct participation [in] hostilities is the test for lethal targeting under international humanitarian law,” and that this would preclude attacking people outside of the actual warzones.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.