Killing by Drones: The Legal and Public Policy Dimensions

Rory O. Millson, Partner at Cravath, Swaine and Moore LLP

In this podcast, Rory O. Millson explores the legal and policy issues surrounding the increasingly common use of military drones to carry out "targeted killings" in the ongoing fight against non-State actors in Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere.  
 
He argues that drones offered a politically expedient response to perceived terrorist threats in the wake of the huge political and economic costs of the Iraq War, which has seen the Obama administration reluctant to commit to the financial and political costs of putting ‘boots on the ground’ to fight foreign wars. 

Mr Millson cites the recent example of the Iraqi government’s consent to US air strikes against ISIL forces, as well as consent from Yemen for drone attacks conducted within its borders, as instances in which the US were legitimately authorized to conduct such actions. 
 
He concludes by arguing that the lack of transparency and secrecy surrounding the US use of drones is both unwise from a policy perspective and troubling in terms of its implications both for public accountability and the legitimacy of such covert operations.