TRIALS BY FIRE - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

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TRIALS BY FIRE - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

• CIA’s review process is more secretive, but both the CIA Director and itslegal department likely sign off on each strike before it is carried out. 254Finally, some suggest the drone war, while tactically effective, is underminingthe US’s ability to prosecute a long-term counterterrorism strategy in theregion. For example, two counterinsurgency specialists recently argued that“Devoting time and resources toward killing or capturing “high-value” targets—notto mention the bounties placed on their heads—distracts us fromlarger problems…Our experience in Iraq suggests that the capture or killing ofhigh-value targets has only a slight and fleeting effect on levels of violence.” 255Ultimately, the drone war will continue for as long as there remains Americanpolitical will for it and as long as no international consensus emerges challengingits legality. While some in the domestic and international legal communitybelieve that the US is engaging in extrajudicial executions, the legitimate needfor the US to protect itself from future terrorist attacks—and the unique Americanability to do so via armed drone attacks, absent a new shock to the politicalsystem—will most likely trump critics’ concerns for the foreseeable future.98 Trials by Fire: Counterterrorism and the Law

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