Fletcher in the News

US Congress, Courts Must Review US Drone Strategy: Prof. Martel

PRI's The World

William C. Martel is Associate Professor of International Security Studies at The Fletcher School, Tufts University.

A leaked Justice Department memo is the talk of the town in Washington, and around the globe, Tuesday. The memo, obtained and published by NBC News, sets out the Obama Administration’s legal case for the targeted killing of American terrorism suspects abroad. In the past, at least one such targeted killing was carried out by a drone strike.

The document said it is lawful to kill a United States citizen abroad who is a “senior operational” leader of al-Qaeda or a related group, and that it would be lawful to kill an American citizen who poses an “imminent” threat to the United States. …

…The topic of targeted killings is sure to get much more attention in the days ahead. President Obama’s pick to head the CIA, John Brennan, has his Senate confirmation hearing scheduled for Thursday. Brennan was the first official in the Obama administration to publicly acknowledge drone strikes last year. He called them “consistent with the inherent right of self-defense.”

Bill Martel, an associate professor of international security studies at the Fletcher School at Tufts University, said he’s comfortable with the executive branch making snap decisions to protect American interests. But he wants the process more clearly defined and transparent.

“I would like to think in the course of things that we’d have courts that are reviewing this. I like further to think that Congress would be involved in those kinds of decisions,” sad Martel. “It’s interesting that Congress, according to reports, received this document back in June.”

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