Following President Barack Obama's remarks on the Trayvon Martin case, Micah Zenko highlights the inconsistency in Obama's policies towards justice. Although the president has stated in reference to the case that it is wrong to profile individuals based on their "appearance, associations, or statistical propensity to violence," and the use of lethal force cannot be justified as self-defense unless there is reasonable grounds to fear imminent harm, those are the exact foundational principles of U.S. signature strikes.
The Obama administration relies on drones for one simple reason: they work. Drone strikes have devastated al Qaeda at little financial cost, at no risk to U.S. forces, and with fewer civilian casualties than many alternative methods would have caused.
In July 2012, the European Union requested that the European Commission study the future of RPAS in Europe and how to integrate civil and commerical remotely-piloted aircraft systems (RPAS, a type of unmanned aircraft system, also called drones) into the European Aviation System and to prepare regulation for implementation by 2016. The commission released a roadmap in June 2013 and, on April 8, 2014, sent to the EU recommended actions for implementing regulation on civilian drone use. The European Commission also requested a report from independent organizations to study privacy concerns associated with civil use of drones.
In response President Obama's recent speech about drones Micah Zenko writes, "What matters now is whether the Obama administration will actually tell Congress and the American public how it is conducting targeted killings."
Micah Zenko examines U.S. President Barack Obama's May 23, 2013 speech on drone strike and counterterrorism policies. "The enduring impact of Mr. Obama's speech will not be what he says, but whether the new policies are reflected in how drone strikes are conducted, and whether his administration will finally and faithfully engage with the public, more than a decade after the operations began," Zenko writes.
Micah Zenko explains why the speech made by Harold Koh, former state department legal adviser, earlier this week is nothing more than a reiteration of the "fundamental myth of the Obama administration's targeted killing program."
Asked by The Universal Human and Civil Rights Union, from Brooklyn, New York
The Obama administration has increasingly relied on drones in its counterterrorist operations. And, as I explain in a recent CFR report, U.S. special operations forces are doing more things in more places than ever before. The heavy reliance on both drones and unilateral commando raids needs to be reassessed.
Douglas Dillon Fellow Micah Zenko asserts that shifting lead executive authority for U.S. drone strikes from the CIA to the Pentagon is the essential first step toward greater transparency and oversight.
Grounded in a realistic assessment of technology, Matthew C. Waxman and Kenneth Anderson outline a practical alternative with which to evaluate the use of autonomous weaponry that incorporates codes of conduct based on traditional legal and ethical principles governing weapons and warfare.
What is the Obama administration's legal justification for targeted killings? CFR national security expert John Bellinger explores this question as well as others with significant implications for U.S. counterterrorism.
Representative Markey introduced this bill on March 19, 2013, which aims "to provide guidance and limitations regarding the integration of unmanned aircraft systems into United States airspace, and for other purposes." This bill also amends FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.
Learn more about CFR’s mission and its work over the past year in the 2016 Annual Report. The Annual Report spotlights new initiatives, high-profile events, and authoritative scholarship from CFR experts, and includes a message from CFR President Richard N. Haass. Read and download »