TRIALS BY FIRE - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

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TRIALS BY FIRE - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

A fully armed MQ-9 Reaper taxis down an Afghanistan runway. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt.Brian Ferguson)mission from the White House, to lethally target US citizens in other countrieswho have joined al Qaeda. 251 The targeted person would have to meet certainstandards and pose “a continuing and imminent threat to US persons and interests,”said one former intelligence official. 252 Of course, this policy raisestroubling questions about whether the US President should have the power toorder the killing of US citizens overseas without due process of the law.Moreover, it remains unclear—due to the secretive nature of the decisionmakingprocess—precisely how the US government determines whom tostrike. Specifically, what evidence is used when making targeting plans? Andhow carefully is this evidence vetted to ensure a high degree of success? Inaddition, there seems to be no overall consensus within the US governmenton how to determine whether a terrorist target is ‘proportional,’ or what is anacceptable threshold for civilian casualties.• The US military uses a formula to determine where and whom tostrike. According to Scott Silliman, the Executive Director of DukeUniversity’s Center on Law, Ethics and National Security, it involves“a very sophisticated target-review process that checks and crosschecksany potential target with regard to constraints of internationallaw, appropriateness of choice of munitions, blast effects as they relateto collateral damage, etc.” 253Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs | Harvard Kennedy School97

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