The US Justification for Extra-Judicial State Murders Outside of Jurisdiction 13

Sometimes I come across bloggers who are much better than me. This is one of those times.

This is an absolutely brilliant post from emptywheel. The argument is this. Israel claims its standoff with Hamas is the equivalent to an armed conflict in international law, entitling it to take naval action on the high seas. Equally, the US claims its “War on Terror” is equivalent to a formal armed conflict, justifying its extra judicial killings particularly by aerial drone.

This US argument has just been comprehensively rejected by the United Nations in a comprehensive legal report issued this week.

Read the emptywheel piece, and then consider this from the Washington Post:

Commanders are developing plans for increasing the use of such forces in Somalia, where a Special Operations raid last year killed the alleged head of al-Qaeda in East Africa. Plans exist for preemptive or retaliatory strikes in numerous places around the world, meant to be put into action when a plot has been identified, or after an attack linked to a specific group.

The surge in Special Operations deployments, along with intensified CIA drone attacks in western Pakistan, is the other side of the national security doctrine of global engagement and domestic values President Obama released last week.

One advantage of using “secret” forces for such missions is that they rarely discuss their operations in public. For a Democratic president such as Obama, who is criticized from either side of the political spectrum for too much or too little aggression, the unacknowledged CIA drone attacks in Pakistan, along with unilateral U.S. raids in Somalia and joint operations in Yemen, provide politically useful tools.

Obama, one senior military official said, has allowed “things that the previous administration did not.”

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13 thoughts on “The US Justification for Extra-Judicial State Murders Outside of Jurisdiction

  • mike cobley

    Ah, that’ll be that change thing, then. You know, a change in things that the administration allows.

  • mike cobley

    Slightly OT, but reports are coming in that the Rachel Corrie was boarded by Israeli forces a few hours ago, yet the BBC news online site has nothing about it at all. Yay, go BBC journalists!

  • markfromireland

    She’s always worth reading and is one of the top bloggers on Firedoglake.

    Firedoglake is itself a top site and gets a lot of traffic. Craig you could do a lot worse than crossposting some of your material there. If you register at the the seminal you can post diaries there.

  • Ian M

    These attempts by the US and Israel, with us bringing up the rearguard, are a recipe for the neocon project: permanent war, a state of hostility forever between the US/Israel and whoever opposes their bid to control global resources. It also conveniently acts as a pretext for domestic legislation and ‘extra-judicial’ activities. Welcome to the world Dick Cheney, richard Perle, Netanyahu and their swivel-eyed followers wish for us all.

  • Abe Rene

    If I wanted to defend US and Israeli operations, I would not do so on the basis of International Law as if it existed as a complete written code. I would argue that International Law is in many ways like Britain’s unwritten constitution; it is embodied in customary practices, but not completely codified. This enables operations which do not fit into common legal frameworks to take place, and also for both sides to argue that the actions of the other are illegal.

    I would say that irrespective of whether the ‘unwritten constitution’ of International Law can be applied here, the blockade of Gaza is not going to help Israel gain security in the long term. It is an immoral collective punishment. It should be lifted.

  • amk

    I had a thought: perhaps the best illustration of why Israel is not at war with Gaza/Hamas is that if it were Hamas would be legally entitled to have captured Gilad Shalit and hold him as a POW. Israel does not acknowledge this right.

    (Hamas isn’t treating Shalit as a POW: afaik they haven’t allowed Red Cross/ Red Crescent access to him)

  • Ishmael

    Yanks are flooding Pakistan to rebuff the Chinese who are creating a larger presence for themselves in that area. Look, Yank foreign policy will never change who is it that can’t get that, hoping for change is a waste of time. Yank foreign policy is defined by persistence and continuity can’t see change fitting in there.

  • writerman

    Excellent Craig. The Firedoglake piece was interesting too.

    It’s a general ‘principle’ that powerful states can get away with far more than less powerful states.

    In some many respects the US and Israel are effectively claiming that they are the law. That the actions of their leaders and forces are legitimate and legal, because it’s them, and they are legitimate and legal states, as opposed to the ‘others’ the terrorists, the enemy, who basically are oustide the law, outlaw states.

    That the US and Israel, (who arguably, are really one state, for all intents and purposes, but it’s convinient to pretend otherwise) are determined to undermine what’s left of international law. This process has been going on, and increasingly so, for decades in the case of these two agressive states, only now they are openly trashing and flaunting their disdain and contempt for international law. Even to the extent that they are openly arguing that it doesn’t really exist, and certainly doesn’t apply to them, as if they are exceptional states and other rules apply to them.

    The US is probably committing warcrimes in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and increasingly beyond, when civilian opperatives in Florida who are controlling preditor drones fire rockets which kill civilians on the other side of the world. Whilst soldiers, on the battlefield are in a grey area when fighting guerillas, it would appear to be blatantly obvious that CIA civilians are committing murder when they kill civilians or guerilla forces abroad. Yet, the sainted Obama has massively expanded these ‘terrorist’ outrages, and killing upwards of 700 innocent civilians in order to ‘take out’ a mere handful of terrorists, is a massive warcrime, which in a functioning democracy would open Obama up to charges and prosecution, and impeachment.

    Finally, there’s also the question of whether this vast slaughter of civilians in order to ‘take out’ a handful of terrorists, isn’t massively counter-production and is inviting retalitation and blowback on an equally massive scale, especially given the attitude of the Pastun people towards foreign agression and cowardly attacks.

  • AbeBird

    Craig; Your dancing on the roof is quite premature! There is a great difference between the Israeli actions against Islamic terrorism and the specific described pattern of the Americans in Afghanistan, and it is the range of the remote controlling of the operation. The US navigates drowns on Afghanistan from Atlanta, Georgia. The Israelis do it from some 100 yards or 2 Km, very close at any term. Although the judicial status did not turned out and cleared yet, I don’t think that the American will give up the Force Multiplier they have at hand (and you should know that much of their ability is because of Israelis’ military enterprises, developments and inventions).

  • Suhayl Saadi

    “Israeli actions against Islamic terrorism” AbeBird

    Uhm, I don’t think either ‘side’ has a monopoly on terrorism, do you? Quite apart from the ongoing state terror perpetrated by Israel on a daily basis, there is that close-up terror of the Settler Movement. And then one has Baruch Goldstein et al.

    I agree with you, though, about the prominent part played by Israeli industry in the US military capability. That is indeed one of the reasons why corporate America is so deeply embedded in the Levantine dynamic.

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