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Military Drone Attacks Are Not 'Hostile' 892

sanzibar writes "Not satisfied with the legal conclusion of the DOJ, the Obama administration found other in-house lawyers willing to declare a bomb dropped from a drone is not 'hostile'. The strange conclusion has big implications in determining the President's compliance with the law. If drone strikes are in fact hostile and the Libyan campaign continues past Sunday, he may very well be breaking the law."
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Military Drone Attacks Are Not 'Hostile'

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  • by jhoegl ( 638955 ) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @08:42PM (#36487946)
    Yeah, doesnt that basically give an open window to terrorists and Iran?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 18, 2011 @08:48PM (#36487988)

    The administration's argument is that the meaning of "hostilities" under the law is any engagement that puts US troops at risk from enemy action. They say that the law was meant to protect US troops from a capricious executive branch that needlessly subjects them to danger. Since soldiers are not endangered by executing drone strikes, that would make the drone strikes not "hostilities."

    If Congress doesn't like it, they can very easily put an end to it by clarifying the law. (At least, they can do that more easily than they can impeach Obama for violating the law.)

  • by taxman_10m ( 41083 ) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @08:49PM (#36487994)

    From Wikipedia: []

    In October 2002, a few days before the U.S. Senate vote on the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution, about 75 senators were told in closed session that Saddam Hussein had the means of delivering biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction by UAV drones that could be launched from ships off the Atlantic coast to attack U.S. eastern seaboard cities. Colin Powell suggested in his presentation to the United Nations that they had been transported out of Iraq and could be launched against the U.S.[78] It was later revealed that Iraq's UAV fleet consisted of only a few outdated Czech training drones.[79] At the time, there was a vigorous dispute within the intelligence community as to whether CIA's conclusions about Iraqi UAVs were accurate. The U.S. Air Force agency most familiar with UAVs denied outright that Iraq possessed any offensive UAV capability.[80]

  • Nothin New Here (Score:3, Interesting)

    by arthurpaliden ( 939626 ) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @09:03PM (#36488092)
    This is not surprising in the least. The United States government once went into a fisheries dispute with Canada claiming the scallops were a migratory species of marine life because they could propel themselves using water squirts.
  • Legally (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Oxford_Comma_Lover ( 1679530 ) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @09:57PM (#36488374)

    Harold Koh is one of the big lawyers supporting the air strikes for the Administration. He condemns Republicans for going to war without authorization when in academia, but was brought into the Administration with President Obama, and since has changed his tune a bit. It should be interesting to see (1) if a Republican president keeps him on whenever one next gets elected and (2) whether he will return to academia and try to walk back his current position.

    There are some interesting theories as to whether the air strikes are legal or not. The question isn't whether they are hostile, it's whether they are "hostile" as that word is used in a particular context--probably the war powers resolution, IIRC. But there are some interesting end-runs you could potentially do around that, such as through the UN--maybe Congress approved the UN charter, which validates the security council resolution authorizing the action, for example. That shouldn't work--there are limits that the Supreme Court puts on how far Congress can delegate its powers, and there's no way they can delegate the declaration of war, particularly if they do so ambiguously.

    Ultimately, if the House wants to stop it, they can always cut the funding.

    On the upside, $10M a day is going mostly to our military industrial complex, which pumps some money into the economy. Also on the upside, getting rid of tyrants.

    Still, I get the image of a big freeciv display in the situation room...

  • by lexsird ( 1208192 ) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @10:01PM (#36488408)

    I find this situation hysterically funny. They gave Bush these powers with Card Blanche, and he put us into two war fronts, one of which he should be prosecuted for. (Iraq) Obama uses it for legitimate purposes and they flip flop like a fish out of water.

    What good could come of this? I hope Republicans flip out over this and revoke the "war powers" laws and get rid of them for good. This will be perfect for the next time a hawkish Republican wants to run wild for his war profiteer buddies, we can point back to this and laugh them down.

    In the mean time, I hope Obama can hold the course. This a break for the free world and a chance for Democracy to break out in the Middle East. Yes, it means that corporate puppets that are propped up right now will be ousted. The peoples of the region have a chance to be rid of tyranny. Now ironically, look who is being obstructionists about this? Republicans who trump they are protecting us from those that "hate us for our freedoms". Hahaha! Now that the region has a chance at freedom, they want to play politics with it or just beat it down?

    I love the priceless double talk out of the Republican corporate lackeys. I am waiting for how this will be the "christian thing to do" to abandon these rebels for freedom. Hide and watch how they spin this around, I would wager money someone will start playing some weird religious angle on this soon as well.

  • precedent (Score:5, Interesting)

    by petsounds ( 593538 ) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @10:32PM (#36488554)

    While Obama should've gone back and gotten authorization from Congress to extend the mission in Libya, he acted properly initially, because otherwise there'd be a lot of blood on our hands (see: Bush Sr. in Iraq) as the resistance capital Benghazi was about to fall had we not intervened.

    Of course, as far as I know we never declared war on Pakistan either, but Congress has been happy to sign checks for drones to fire missiles inside Pakistan territory. Is this not also "putting US Armed Forces into hostilities"? And if you want to be technical, Congress has not passed a bill declaring war on anyone since World War II. It's all "authorization to use force", which is more of the kind of Orwellian terminology in use post-WWII, such as changing the Department of War to the Department of Defense.

    In my opinion, this is not "hostilities" in the sense of invading a country. We are in Libya at the request of the Libyan people to prevent a humanitarian disaster. Obama may have slipped up on the technicalities, but the technicalities are only being brought up now because of politics. The cause is a just one.

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @11:14PM (#36488728)

    Paul voted to end affirmative action in college admissions.

    Yep, to the betterment of all students.

    Anti Same-Sex marriage, Paul calls himself "strongly pro-life" and anti-abortion

    This is the one thing that is somewhat evangelical, but so what if his position is to remove all power from the federal state? Then he can't say boo about any of those issues, it's up to the states (as it should be).

    People get that confused about Palin too, even though she also is against abortion she has said before in an interview that it should be up to regions to decide about abortion for themselves.

    Paul has asserted that he does not think there should be any federal control over education and education should be handled at a local and state level.

    That's not evangelical. That's common sense, when you look at the hash the feds have made of education. That's $40m that could be going to students or even weed for the needy, all money better spent than paying a bunch of buerocrats to dictate how education is to be handled exactly the same from beverly hills to the inner city of NYC. Her's a thought, perhaps different regions have different approaches that would better serve students. Break up the NEA and send that money out to the states for education that makes sense.


    I am a staunch environmentalist and think the EPA is past its prime, too much absurd regulation.

    Anti-Civil Rights Act

    Hmm... really?

  • Re:"Not hostile" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @11:38PM (#36488850) Journal

    It's the natural continuation of the long-existing slippery slope. First they stopped the use of the term "war" (to remind, the US has last officially used the term "war" in 1942 - neither Korea nor Vietnam nor Afghanistan nor Iraq were "wars"). The next logical step is to excise any mention of violence whatsoever. Conveniently, this also removes the need to authorize it.

    In the long term, though, I suspect that this moment - and not all the other Obama's blunders - will end up in history as the marking moment of his presidency. Even Bush asked (and received) authorization to use force from the Congress - albeit with a lot of deception and outright lies. Obama pretty much says he doesn't care for one, and it's his way or the highway.

    Frankly, waging war in explicit denial of the parliament would be grounds for immediate impeachment in pretty much any other country. How does that normally work in US?

  • by commandermonkey ( 1667879 ) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @11:44PM (#36488890)
    I cant really agree with either of you. Killing poor people because they were born in the wrong part of the world is EVIL. Kidnapping, torturing and, in some cases, killing people because they share the same name/alias(in that a guys alias is actually their name)/religion/sold to by tribal rivals is EVIL.

    Both acts are disgusting.

    To be clear, the Bush torture program found some random low ranking lawyer to sign off, but we haven't seen reports that his attorneys general, office of legal counsel and [major governing agency] disagreed. To equate this asinine legal opinion to Bush we would have to go to the domestic spying program.

    This illegal wiretap program had the counsel of the FBI, OLC and the attorneys general saying that its incredibly illegal. You know, the program that Ashcroft refused to sign off on and was visited in a hospital room and refused to sign? The one that Bush modified to get Ashcroft to sign off on, that the NYT sat on until the end of the election, and that even after being modified(so that Ashcroft would signoff on)was still illegal.

    Like Bush's unmodified wiretap program, Obama had his OLC, Pentagon Legal Counsel and (as the NYT buries on A6 in the second to last paragraph of a 21 paragraph article) the Attorneys General.

    tl;dr Both obscene decisions come at the objection of the Attorneys General;OLC and [major governing agency],
  • by danbuter ( 2019760 ) on Sunday June 19, 2011 @12:20AM (#36489088)
    Except that, once again, NATO accidentally bombed our allies today: []
  • Re:Legally (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The Master Control P ( 655590 ) <ejkeever@nerdshac k . c om> on Sunday June 19, 2011 @02:50AM (#36489602)
    Because when Hoover did nothing*, that sure worked out brilliantly. FDR initiates the new deal, economic cratering almost immediately halts and GDP starts going back up. 1936/7, Republicans demand new deal be cut back to balance budget, recession is immediate. Then shortly after we got into WWII, also known as "the biggest big-government deficit-spending jobs & stimulus program in all of history." Then the GI Bill paid to have them all sent off to school again and the next few decades were the zenith of American power and prestige around the world.

    So, how's things going in Greece and Iceland?

    *He actually did start the ball rolling on some stimulus-esqe stuff, but it was too little too late, and he didn't afaik do anything to stop the bank dominos from falling, which was the immediate short-term problem.

"If the code and the comments disagree, then both are probably wrong." -- Norm Schryer