The drone is a radical departure from traditional warfare. It allows the United States, using either its civilian spy agency or military, to reach out and kill someone who may be standing in a country that the U.S. isn’t even at war with. And that includes American citizens.
Until now, it wasn’t known what legal or procedural framework the U.S. government operated under when ordering the killing of its citizens. A leaked memo lays out the following conditions that must be met for a lawful killing:
U.S. government has determined that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States;
Capture is infeasible, and the United States continues to monitor whether captures becomes feasible
The operation would be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles.
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