Saturday, January 24, 2015

Interfaith Conference on Drone Warfare: Session 4 - Morality of Policy Positions

Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ
January 23 - 25, 2015

“Imminence”: In its February 2013 White Paper the Administration justifies the use of certain drone strikes as consistent with international laws of self-defense by stating that imminence “does not require ... clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.” How does this attempted reinterpretation of “imminence” comport with the more traditional restrictive meaning of the concept in the Just War framework? Is there legal support for this definition of “imminence”? Does redefinition lower the barrier to go to war?

Assassination: Under what conditions in war is the assassination of people on a targeted list legal? Moral? What criteria should be used to be put someone on the list and who determines who should be on the target list? What kind of checks and balances exist in vetting the list?

Killing U.S. Citizens: Four U.S. citizens have been killed by drone strikes, including non -combatants, far from any battlefield. Are these killings legal? Do they raise different legal issues than the killing of non-citizens? What are the criteria to determine whether Americans have actually joined in a fight against the United States? Should the United States government have the right to treat them as if they have given up their right to due process and if so, when and how should this be done? Who makes that decision (a court, the Administration, Congress)?

Civilian Casualties: Drones may kill fewer civilians than other weapons. Does that make them more moral than other weapons? How should governments respond to civilian casualties? Should they pay reparations to the families of those killed or wounded by drones?


Dr. Sarah Sayeed, Interfaith Center of New York


Mary Ellen O’Connell, Professor of Law and Research Professor of International Dispute Resolution, University of Notre Dame Law School

Marjorie Cohn, Professor of Law at Thomas Jefferson School of Law; former President of the National Lawyers Guild, San Diego, CA

Pardiss Kebriaei, Center for Constitutional Rights, New York

Production costs for this series of videos are partially underwritten by Coalition for Peace Action and by Broome County Peace Action.