The US is said to be targeting an American in Pakistan for possible execution by drone. Yesterday NPR ran a story on the constitutionality of the operation by Bruce Auster, NPR’s national security correspondent. “With A Citizen In The Crosshairs, Where’s The Line Drawn For Drones?”
Auster’s critic of American policy is Amos Guiora, who bragged about his experience as an Israeli officer directing targeted assassinations in Gaza. Guiora is a law professor at the University of Utah. And, though NPR doesn’t tell you, associated with an Israeli thinktank:
“Research Fellow, International Institute on Counter-Terrorism, The Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, Israel, 2008-present.”
This is about the Constitution, Auster says. Can we kill an American who’s gone over to the other side to save the live of Americans?.
Auster: Amos Guiora has an answer. He knows this stuff, not just because he’s a law professor.
Guiora: Served for 20 years in the Israel Defense Forces. While serving as the legal adviser to the Gaza Strip, from 94-97, I was involved in targeted killing decision making.
Auster: His problem with the US process is that the decision to target and kill is made without any review by the courts.
Guiora: I’ve been in the business for 20 years or more, I have no idea what senior operational Al Qaeda leader means. I just don’t know what that means.
Auster: It’s too loose a definition…. Ultimately, Guiora says, the decision to kill an American citizen must rest on a ground that’s a little less slippery.
Here’s Guiora’s resume at the University of Utah. He writes a lot about “targeted” killing.
Why didn’t Auster bring up the State Department’s report on Israel’s assassination program, from 2004. Lots of innocent civilians killed.
During the year, the IDF targeted for killing at least 44 Palestinians suspected of involvement in terrorism. In the process, IDF forces killed more bystanders than targeted individuals, including children. IDF forces killed at least 47 bystanders of those targeted and injured a number of others, including bystanders, relatives, or associates. Israel stated that it only targeted individuals believed to be “ticking bombs” on the verge of carrying out terrorist attacks. In practice, however, the IDF targeted some leaders of terrorist organizations generally considered not to be directly engaged in carrying out attacks.
Israeli security forces put large numbers of Palestinian civilian lives in jeopardy by undertaking targeted killings in crowded areas where civilian casualties were likely. For example, on April 9, Israeli forces fired four missiles at a car in a densely populated area of Gaza city in order to kill two suspected terrorists, Sa’ad ad-Din al-Arabeit, 35, and Ashraf al-Halabi, 25. Israeli forces killed five other Palestinians in the effort, including two children, 13-year-old Ahmad Hamsa al-Ashraf, and 16-year-old Samid Hasan Qasem.
Here is James North writing about those targeted killings in Gaza.
In 2003, [Yonatan Shapira] bravely confronted the air force commander, Lt. General Dan Halutz, about what are euphemistically called “targeted assassinations” — Israeli warplanes fired missiles at Hamas leaders in Gaza, also killing innocent bystanders, some of them children.
Yonatan asked General Halutz, What if a Hamas leader were located in Tel Aviv? Would you order our pilots to fire there, risking Israeli bystanders? Halutz said no. So you value Israelis over Palestinians, Yonatan responded. Get someone else to fly your aircraft.