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ACLU Sues Over Legality of "Targeted Killing" By Drones

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the skynet-jokes-are-allowed-and-encouraged dept.

Government 776

MacAndrew writes "The ACLU has sued the United States Government to enforce a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for 'the release of records relating to the use of unmanned aerial vehicles — commonly known as 'drones' — for the purpose of targeting and killing individuals since September 11, 2001.' (Complaint.) The information sought includes the legal basis for use of the drones, how the program is managed, and the number of civilian deaths in areas of operation such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen. The ACLU further claims that 'Recent reports, including public statements from the director of national intelligence, indicate that US citizens have been placed on the list of targets who can be hunted and killed with drones.' Aside from one's view of the wisdom, effectiveness, and morality of these military operations, the inclusion of US citizens suggests that summary remote-control executions are becoming routine. Especially given the difficulty in locating and targeting individuals from aircraft, risks of human and machine error are obvious, and these likely increase as the robots become increasingly autonomous (please no Skynet jokes). This must give pause to anyone who's ever spent time coding or debugging or even driving certain willful late model automobiles, and the US government evidently doesn't want to discuss it."

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776 comments

Oddly Enough (5, Funny)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509340)

The defense's response was merely a motion for discovery of the plaintiff's latitude and longitude.

Re:Oddly Enough (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31509596)

Please, please please can we give them the coordinates of Harlem? Or any other ghetto?

Welcome to the 21st Century Courtroom (1)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509630)

It's The Robots versus The Lawyers. Death Rays versus Briefcases. Titanium Alloy versus Brooks Brothers Suits.

Sounds like an even match across the board...

Amicus Curiae (1)

Deimos24601 (904979) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509342)

The ACLU needs to recruit Arnold Schwarzenegger and Nick Stahl for this one.

Re:Amicus Curiae (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31509490)

pff.. true fans know that the real john connor is eddie furlong.

Re:Amicus Curiae (3, Funny)

Goffee71 (628501) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509606)

Hmm, that'll be a fun meeting. "Fellow lawyers, honored celebrity guests and bleeding heart liberals. It is so good to see so many of you in one room. We are gathered here today to stab at the heart of the neo-con agenda... hey, what's that droning noise?"

What more needs to be said (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31509352)

A country that makes a promo video [youtube.com] like this probably doesnt care much about killing persons here and there.

Re:What more needs to be said (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509386)

That video was made by the United States government?

Someone tagged this FOIA (5, Informative)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509376)

I can almost guarantee that the information sought is either classified or at least FOUO (For Official Use Only) which means it's exempt from the FOIA.

Re:Someone tagged this FOIA (5, Insightful)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509568)

The doctrine regarding the use of lethal force against American civilians can be classified ? That sounds like a real problem...

Re:Someone tagged this FOIA (2)

Aeros (668253) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509614)

But why are they thinking the US government is targeting US citizens over there?

Re:Someone tagged this FOIA (4, Informative)

rworne (538610) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509714)

Because there are some US citizens that are actively working with the Taliban. If US citizens are working as enemy combatants then they should be eligible as targets as well.

Re:Someone tagged this FOIA (5, Insightful)

greatgreygreengreasy (706454) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509912)

Shouldn't they be arrested, charged, and tried then, rather than summarily executed?

Re:Someone tagged this FOIA (5, Insightful)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509980)

No. We didn't arrest Confederate combatants in the American Civil War, nor did they set out to arrest Plains and Southwest Indian combatants who left the Reservations and treaty lands during the Indian Wars.

Re:Someone tagged this FOIA (1, Redundant)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509956)

then they should be eligible as targets as well.

Damn that pesky Bill Of Rights!

Re:Someone tagged this FOIA (5, Insightful)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509960)

If US citizens are working as enemy combatants outside of the US, then they should be eligible as military targets as well.

Just to make it clear that the US military has no business going after US citizens on US soil. We have other agencies for that.

Re:Someone tagged this FOIA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31509970)

Yes. They should be legal targets. For capture and trial on charges of treason. Not for summary execution.

Re:Someone tagged this FOIA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31509992)

Because there are some US citizens that are actively working with the Taliban. If US citizens are working as enemy combatants then they should be eligible as targets as well.

To hyperbole: Anyone assumed/accused/known of working with the Taliban should be gunned down?

Where do you draw the line?

Re:Someone tagged this FOIA (2, Funny)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509632)

I would respond seriously, but unfortunately your post is now classified also.

Re:Someone tagged this FOIA (1)

Aeros (668253) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509662)

dammit it's always something

Targeted killing isnt ok?? (2, Insightful)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509398)

Well then, lets have some untargeted killing then. Thats much better for everyone.

Re:Targeted killing isnt ok?? (0, Troll)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509628)

Which is what these devices do, if I follow the news from the past few years. These missiles just explode, and anyone near enough gets killed or injured also. This is not any different from a car bomb, which that same government would most probably call terrorism. When it is a missile instead of a car, it is obviously terrorism also, but I bet that the government won't call it that.

For the victims, it is just a bomb like any other. Is it really that difficult that you fight a war on on terrorism with intelligence, and a war on terra [wildwolff.com] with military force?

Re:Targeted killing isnt ok?? (2, Informative)

Hunter0000 (1600071) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509830)

"(2) the term “terrorism” means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents;" [From U.S. Code Title 22, Ch.38, Para. 2656f(d)] Emphasis mine..

Yes, true, drone attacks do cause collateral damage, but perhaps we should go back to carpet bombing because they are not prefect? (Not that I don't tend to agree on your last point)

The Reliably obtuse ACLU (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31509408)

Does the ACLU have any problem with terrorists blowing up skyscrapers with 3000 people in them, or is that OK?

Re:The Reliably obtuse ACLU (1, Insightful)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509484)

More importantly, does the ACLU have any problem with snipers? Typically they are involved in "execution" style attacks (where the individual is stalked, targeted and terminated)... Sure, the sniper can also be (and is usually used in) a support role for a group of soldiers (Which drones do routinely), but they can and do target individuals. How is that any different from a drone (Which can do the same exact thing, but requires less man-hours of training and has less risk associated with it)? And who cares if they are targeting US citizens? It's not like they are flying over and killing innocents, the citizens they are targeting are consorting with the enemy (Well, I assume, but if they are targeting civilians, I have a feeling they'd cover that up so well (just like they do with every other "questionable" practice)...

Re:The Reliably obtuse ACLU (2, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509588)

Yeah, because an airplane in a few miles with only thermal vision on has the same accuracy than when a sniper is stalking and on a good opportunity targeting and shooting a target.

Re:The Reliably obtuse ACLU (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509816)

Good luck inserting and recovering snipers in hostile territory. If you want to ban war, ban war, but lawfare designed to deliberately expose own-side troops to vastly increased risk of hostile fire should be seen for what it is.

UAV strikes are pinpricks compared to the grossly imprecise methods dictated by technological limits of the past, and are not disproportionate force when the alternative is complete safe-haven for enemy troops.

Re:The Reliably obtuse ACLU (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509610)

And who cares if they are targeting US citizens?

I seem to recall something about having a right to a fair trial if I'm a US citizen. Also, I was hoping I would be considered innocent until proven guilty by a jury of my peers. Yes, I know that's been thrown out the window in some cases but I would still prefer that over "Oh, they killed the Jones' today. Huh, they must have been consorting with terrorists." The ACLU is trying to protect your civil liberties and freedoms whether you want them to or not. Because to them and many other people, things like this are important.

Re:The Reliably obtuse ACLU (3, Insightful)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509804)

As far as I can tell, this seems to be about killing a Citizen that has a gun and is presently involved in shooting at American soldiers (Or is somehow presently engaged in other acts of war against the US)... It's not about finding one on the street and saying he's a bad guy, kill him. If you shoot at a police officer (or even raise a gun towards him for that matter), is he/she going to stop and say "Well, he deserves the right to a fair trial, so I'm going to let him shoot at me while I go try to put him in handcuffs"? No, they are going to shoot back. If the suspect survives, then they will be tried by their peers. But once you engage against either the military or the police, you should consider yourself lucky if you do survive...

I'm not saying that these kinds of things are important, but why the focus on drones? Why not focus on ALL targeted killing? They pick drones, because it's new and scary (They can rally support through sensationalism). Not because it's radically changed the way the military has operated (in terms of who to kill, not in strategy). Don't get me wrong, I think it needs to be looked into, but this appears to me to be a media stunt to try to get the public's interest roused to the point where the military will have to say SOMETHING...

Re:The Reliably obtuse ACLU (1)

spribyl (175893) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509818)

Actually it even worse the that, there is no mention of citizenry as part of a right to trial. A person is has to right to a trial by peers.

"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district where in the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence."

Re:The Reliably obtuse ACLU (1)

at_slashdot (674436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509864)

"I seem to recall something about having a right to a fair trial if I'm a US citizen." -- that's if you are captured, imprisoned and in general rendered harmless, if you are armed and dangerous and brag/want/plan to kill Americans (and/or declare war on US) you have no such rights... it's the law, and common sense too.

Due process. Civilian aid workers. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31509756)

And who cares if they are targeting US citizens?

Due process.

They could also be there to help all the civilians who are having a horrible time over the war in their country. The CIA and the rest of the Government have made horrendous mistakes with regards to targets and their "guilt".

For crying out loud, in this day and age, the enemy is so obfuscated it's extremely difficult to know who is the "bad" guy.

This "War On Terror" isn't as black and white as on "24", any Arrrrnauld movie, or any other action movie. Of course, all of the arm chair generals who learned their battle tactics and strategy from Spike TV will disagree with the above.

Re:The Reliably obtuse ACLU (1)

The Mighty Buzzard (878441) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509798)

More to the point, how is this different than any weapon capable of being aimed? Any time a soldier/marine/etc... points a weapon at someone, they are targeting that individual for execution. Is the ACLU's beef seriously that it's not fair to be able to kill our enemies without giving them the chance to kill us?

As to killing US citizens, screw em. If they're innocent bystandars, they sure picked a fucked up place to bystand and should be nominated for a Darwin award. If they're not, then they were traitors and my only regret is that we can't bring them back and execute them several more times.

Re:The Reliably obtuse ACLU (1)

blueskies (525815) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509842)

because they defend innocents from dying unmanned drones, you think they might not care when people die from manned airplanes bombing skyscrapers?

I don't think they want either action to happen.

Fishing expedition (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509424)

The DoD won't give up an operational details that they've not already given to the press.

Domestic vs. Foreign (1, Insightful)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509436)

I don't like the government having too much power, but I'm not sure I understand why the ACLU is getting involved in this if it is not being done domestically against American citizens. What's done in war time on foreign soil against non-American citizens doesn't seem to fall within the domain of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Re:Domestic vs. Foreign (5, Insightful)

Jer (18391) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509488)

From the summary:

'Recent reports, including public statements from the director of national intelligence, indicate that US citizens have been placed on the list of targets who can be hunted and killed with drones.'

That's part of the reason why the ACLU would be involved.

Another part is that they're a watchdog group. When the government is keeping secrets from its citizens, watchdog groups make noise. That's what they do. I'm glad for it - too much gets shoved under the label of "national security" and the press is useless if you can't provide them a decent "some say ... while others claim ..." narrative to wrap facts in.

Re:Domestic vs. Foreign (4, Insightful)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509542)

'Recent reports, including public statements from the director of national intelligence, indicate that US citizens have been placed on the list of targets who can be hunted and killed with drones.'

Read the summary but somehow totally missed this part. Thanks for the polite response. :-)

Re:Domestic vs. Foreign (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509806)

Very nice polite response!

Clap clap clap!

One Happy Positive Karma thought headed your way.

Re:Domestic vs. Foreign (-1, Offtopic)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509572)

What's done in war time on foreign soil against non-American citizens doesn't seem to fall within the domain of the American Civil Liberties Union.

IMHO, they have no right to call themselves a "civil liberties union" as long as they refuse to defend the 2nd amendment and continue to cling [aclu.org] to the discredited notion that the 2nd amendment only protects a "collective" right. They interrupt every other amendment in as broad of a manner as possible while ignoring the plain text of the 2nd amendment and claiming that "In our view, neither the possession of guns nor the regulation of guns raises a civil liberties issue."

What a bunch of hypocrites.

this is not offtopic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31509686)

How the hell is criticism of the ACLU off-topic in a discussion about the ACLU?

Get a clue mods.

Re:Domestic vs. Foreign (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509824)

This is the only thing I disagree with the ACLU on, the second amendment is extremely important. Their abject failure to defend it does not in any way discredit the rest of the good that they do.

Re:Domestic vs. Foreign (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31509922)

Sorry, I have to agree with them on this one, and I used to be a big donor to them. Countries, like the one I live in now, where people can't own guns are safer, period. As for "the criminals have them." No, they don't. Anyone gets caught with a gun, it's to jail with them, end of story.

And for the Americans who say "But we need guns to defend ourselves against the government!" Riiight. Anyone who starts collecting guns with the stated intention to be prepared to fight the government, just wait and see what happens. First of all, I think that's called "treason". Second... well someone did a test run of that for us, it was called "Wako, TX".

Re:Domestic vs. Foreign (2, Insightful)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509582)

Not that I completely agree with them, but I thought the articles said that they thought we were targeting US citizens. My rights as a citizen of the US shouldn't expire with respect to the US government if I leave the country. I'd like to hope the US isn't just waiting for me to step into mexico to snipe me.

Re:Domestic vs. Foreign (1, Informative)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509640)

My rights as a citizen of the US shouldn't expire with respect to the US government if I leave the country.

The people who are being targeted have done a little bit more than leave the country. They've left the country and joined up with enemies of the country who are actively engaged in the process of trying it do it harm.

I'm sorry but if you leave the US, travel to a foreign battlefield and willingly enlist in the service of those who are fighting our country you've committed treason. Why should you be treated any differently than the foreign combatants whom are trying to do us harm?

Re:Domestic vs. Foreign (5, Interesting)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509788)

The people who are being targeted have done a little bit more than leave the country. They've left the country and joined up with enemies of the country who are actively engaged in the process of trying it do it harm.

And this has been proven in a court of law? Or is based on the hunch of some intelligence analyst who is contracted through a corporation to provide support to the DoD?

Re:Domestic vs. Foreign (1)

Mirlas (760973) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509834)

I'm sorry but if you leave the US, travel to a foreign battlefield and willingly enlist in the service of those who are fighting our country you've committed treason. Why should you be treated any differently than the foreign combatants whom are trying to do us harm?

I don't know. I'd be interested in knowing what the laws are for the crime of treason and how it is to be handled. What is the due process?

Re:Domestic vs. Foreign (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31509590)

Okay, I know reading TFA is verboten, but could you at least read the summary?

The ACLU further claims that 'Recent reports, including public statements from the director of national intelligence, indicate that US citizens have been placed on the list of targets who can be hunted and killed with drones.'

So, they're asking about what is being done TO American civilians. And your country's pressed its stance of "Our citizens are our citizens no matter where they go, and are still subject to our law and no other" often enough that just because it's being done on foreign soil doesn't exempt them now.

Re:Domestic vs. Foreign (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31509634)

Agreed. Surely there's enough abuse of our civil liberties domestically to keep the ACLU busy for generations. Leave stuff like this to the human rights orgs.

Re:Domestic vs. Foreign (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509672)

"""
Recent reports, including public statements from the director of national intelligence, indicate that US citizens have been placed on the list of targets who can be hunted and killed with drones
"""

It's in the damn summary, for fuck sake.

Now that mightn't be the case, but it's the claim the ACLU is making and the reason why they are asking for the information in the first place.

Re:Domestic vs. Foreign (4, Informative)

quantumplacet (1195335) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509688)

Despite the standard inaccurate Slashdot headline, they're not actually suing over the legality of targeted killing by drones, they're suing over the disclosure of information. Government transparency is a big part of what the ACLU is all about, and they're suing to get the government to hand over the documents. If impropriety is found once/if the documents are released, most likely a different group would actually sue over the abuses, since they are, as you say, not a civil liberties issue.

Re:Domestic vs. Foreign (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509924)

US citizens assisting the enemy on the field of battle (which has been widened by the choice of AQ, Taliban, and other Muslim advocacy groups to wage unconventional war) were always fair military game. If, when Jane Fonda posed with the North Vietnamese AAA battery, she had been taken out by an F-4 Wild Weasel it would not have been illegal even though she wasn't firing the weapon she posed with.

Assisting combat or logistics ops makes anyone doing that a legit target.

No Skynet jokes? (2, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509438)

From the summary, emphasis mine:

Especially given the difficulty in locating and targeting individuals from aircraft, risks of human and machine error are obvious, and these likely increase as the robots become increasingly autonomous (please no Skynet jokes)

Resistance is futile. This article will be assimiliated into the collective conscious of slashdot, and will become subject to Skynet jokes whether you like it or not.

There. A skynet comment and a borg comment rolled into one...

Bet you didn't see that coming, submitter.

Re:No Skynet jokes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31509528)

Ah, but he did see it coming! He was obviously sent back in time to St. Patrick's Day 2010 to stop a drone programmer from overshooting the Ballmer peak with green beer.

US Citizens (5, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509466)

If US Citizens are employed in the service of enemies of this Republic on foreign soil, then what the hell does the ACLU want? The FBI to paradrop into Afghanistan, slap the cuffs on them and read them their Miranda rights? What the hell?

Next up: ACLU objects to US Military engaging in warfare, suggests borrowing a page from Steven Spielberg and replacing all issued M-16s with walkie-talkies.

Re:US Citizens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31509608)

They could seize any of their domestic assets - I'm sure they're using those to finance their terrorism.

They could also harass any domestic relatives.

Re:US Citizens (2, Insightful)

bdsesq (515351) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509666)

The ALCU is probably looking for "due process of law".

Somehow I have trouble generating sympathy for anyone who gets hurt standing next to Osama or Im-a-dinner-jacket when they get taken out.

Re:US Citizens (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509724)

The ALCU is probably looking for "due process of law".

If these people wanted due process of law they should have remained on American soil and not enlisted in the service of foreign organizations that are trying to murder American soldiers and civilians.

Re:US Citizens (1)

KarlIsNotMyName (1529477) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509740)

Of course, innocents are always left in peace.

Re:US Citizens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31509772)

If US Citizens are employed in the service of enemies of this Republic on foreign soil, then what the hell does the ACLU want?

Can you prove that? Or do you believe that the US army should be able to execute any American citizen who are not on US soil if the army feels like it?

Re:US Citizens (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509878)

Or do you believe that the US army should be able to execute any American citizen who are not on US soil if the army feels like it?

The US Army can't wipe it's own ass without the permission of the Commander-in-Chief. The question is should the President be allowed to order the US Military to kill Americans who are serving with foreign enemies of this Republic?

Re:US Citizens (5, Insightful)

Angst Badger (8636) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509778)

If US Citizens are employed in the service of enemies of this Republic on foreign soil, then what the hell does the ACLU want?

I don't think the question here is whether it is permissible to attack military enemies, so much as whether it is permissible to engage in the assassination of specific individuals, to say nothing of the accuracy of the intelligence that leads to such assassination missions and the extensive collateral damage that may end up creating more enemies than it destroys. We are, after all, talking about an intelligence community whose failures over the last fifty years would be comical if the consequences weren't so grave.

The failure of the "let's just trust our leaders" model is what spurred us to form a republic in the first place. To have it come up again in the context of the two biggest military disasters of our nation's history suggests that someone isn't paying attention to the reality on the ground, and it's not the ACLU.

Re:US Citizens (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509820)

The ACLU isn't asking them not to do this.

They are asking: what is the legal basis for doing this.

The government can just reply with "paragraph 13 of section 6, part 9 of statute 9201", assuming they do have such a legal basis for assassinating US citizens of course. Or they could say "they are enemy combatants according to XYZ and this these drone's comply with our obligations to international treaties on warfare we are party to"

Or just add the ACLU to the list I guess.

Re:US Citizens (3, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509828)

If US Citizens are employed in the service of enemies of this Republic on foreign soil, then what the hell does the ACLU want? The FBI to paradrop into Afghanistan, slap the cuffs on them and read them their Miranda rights? What the hell?

Try this article if you're confused about the ACLU's motives
http://billingsgazette.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/nat_hentoff/article_085a3dc4-2725-11df-afa2-001cc4c03286.html [billingsgazette.com]

Here's the short version of things that are bothering the ACLU:
1. Lots of foreign civilian casualties
2. "nonmilitary personnel including CIA agents [and possibly contractors] are making targeting decisions, piloting drones and firing missiles"
3. we don't know under which American laws and international treaties the President has authorized this program of targeted killings

No matter how the Pakistani Government feels, bombing Pakistani civilians is only going to piss off and radicalize the locals.

Re:US Citizens (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509852)

Lots of foreign civilian casualties

Maybe if they'd clean up their own country we wouldn't have to do it for them.

Re:US Citizens (2, Insightful)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509978)

No, actually, if you'd stop doing a half-assed job of "cleaning up" other countries, terrorists might not have flown planes into fucking office buildings and we wouldn't be having this retarded discussion.

Re:US Citizens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31509916)

Well I'm of the opinion that US citizens are entitled to due process when dealing with the US government. I for one would not like to see this kind of thing happen on domestic soil, even if a citizen is employed in the service of an enemy of the republic.

Re:US Citizens (2, Informative)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509936)

First of all, "this Republic" hasn't declared war on anyone but Saddam Hussein, who is now dead and deposed. I doubt you can define who our "enemies" even are.

Secondly, US Citizens retain their rights regardless of their location or whether the military feels like assassinating them. The Constitution defines treason for a reason.

And, yes, I'm sure the ACLU and anyone else with half a brain objects to the US military engaging in undeclared warfare targeting US citizens.

Did you eat lead paint as a child, or what?

English in What? (1)

e2d2 (115622) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509472)


  This must give pause to anyone who's ever spent time coding or debugging or even driving certain willful late model automobiles, and the US government evidently doesn't want to discuss it.

Do they speak English in What? I don't understand the joke or relevance. Can someone hit me with a clue?

Re:English in What? (1)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509566)

Reference to recent Toyota recall. The cars supposedly accelerated even if you didn't tell them to.

This is a pretty stupid thing to be scared of. (4, Informative)

bistromath007 (1253428) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509492)

UCAVs are not at all autonomous. For the very reasons already mentioned, they basically can't be. They can autonomously fly around and look at things, but firing weapons requires somebody on the ground calling for a strike, and somebody in a shack somewhere actually making it. It's not as though a drone can actually see the face of any people its shooting at; how would it know that it has found somebody on The Dreaded List unless somebody on the ground first said "he's over there?" The legality of killing people with drones is thus basically identical to the legality of doing so from any other aircraft. Good luck stopping that.

Re:This is a pretty stupid thing to be scared of. (2, Informative)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509616)

The US military doctrine says that the order to opened fire has to be issued by a human. The only exception is when shooting down unmanned vehicle (eg. incoming missiles) than an autonomous "fire" decision can be taken.

I am not sure that the main issue is that it is fired from drones. I think the main issue is that it is shooting at US citizen outside of any judicial overseeing and that being done from drones, video records of the operations exist.

Re:This is a pretty stupid thing to be scared of. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31509786)

If US citizens are taking up arms against the United States, it is quite irrelevant whether they are citizens or not.

The idea that civil rights exist on a battlefield is entirely absurd, despite recent Supreme Court decisions. Soldiers fight wars. They don't have time to investigate to decide whether probable cause exists to detain an enemy or not.

The Constitution is not a suicide pact.

Really? (2, Insightful)

drexlor (1314419) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509520)

UAVs allow operators to make intelligent decisions because they are not in the heat of battle, change shifts every hour, have someone behind them helping them make decisions, and have advanced payloads identifying actual threats versus civilians. There is no comparison to other methods in regards to reducing civilian casualties.

Re:Really? (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509698)

Operator: "20 bucks says I can shoot the turban off of that guy's head".
Supervisor: "You're on!".

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31509792)

And anybody who thinks a UAV is any more remote than a cruise missile or a laser-guided bomb from a F16 is kidding themselves...

and this will accomplish what? (1)

Pinhedd (1661735) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509524)

I fail to see what the ACLU hopes to accomplish with this. The nationality of a target is really of little to no importance in this case and if anything should send up a red flag. I cant really think of many legitimate reasons a US born person should have be wandering around in the tribal regions of Pakistan. As has been said above, operational details are classified and exempt from the FOIA.

The way I see it (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31509552)

The war is controversial in general, but when it comes to actual operations on a warzone (in a country which has insurgency targetting US forces), citizenship should not be a factor in decision concerning use of force. A human life is not more valuable because the person happens to hold a US password. If you go and join some insurgency movement in a war torn country, expect to be treated like any other insurgent.

You may have a case against the drone war in general on humanitarian or human rights grounds, but don't play the "I'm am American and thus untouchable, kill those foreign Muslims but don't you dare to kill me, even if I'm doing the exact same thing. If you want US liberties, guess what, you should have stayed in the fucking US. The ALCU is way out of line here.

Time to jack bauer them! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31509556)

Time to jack bauer them!

On a server buried deep in NORAD... (1)

KillaBeave (1037250) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509576)

... the following line of code just executed.

hitList.add(new Target("Soulskill"));

Re:On a server buried deep in NORAD... (1)

Pinhedd (1661735) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509718)

man if our defences are running on Java/.NET we're seriously fucked!

Jurisdiction and other issues (1, Troll)

smd75 (1551583) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509598)

I'm not entirely sure they can sue this due to jurisdiction issues.
Plus they are the American Civil Liberties Union, Not only are the targets NOT american, the dont really have Civil Liberties either.

Im assuming the pilots behind the UAVs have target criteria, and need to provide evidence of said criteria to receive permission to eliminate the target.

Excuse me for the muslims to not respect the geneva convention, not be uniformed, and the fact they take pleasure in hiding behind their families or neighbors, sick, injured or children. When a few individuals fire at you from a crowded market, you want me to just sit there and deal with being shot at and possibly die, FU ACLU.

Also, whats the word we can take from those countries that they were actually civilians? Someone carrying a gun is militia, someone who died carrying a gun was a soldier, but in the time it takes to get a team in there to confirm kills, those guns disappear and now proof of militia is gone and so they are just civilians now. I doubt the Civilian casualties are actually as high as they are perceived. I think it usually is militia, but someone else picks up the gun and takes their place.

Re:Jurisdiction and other issues (1)

smd75 (1551583) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509656)

I'm not entirely sure they can sue this due to jurisdiction issues.
Plus they are the American Civil Liberties Union, Not only are the targets NOT american, the dont really have Civil Liberties either.

Im assuming the pilots behind the UAVs have target criteria, and need to provide evidence of said criteria to receive permission to eliminate the target.

Excuse me for the muslims to not respect the geneva convention, not be uniformed, and the fact they take pleasure in hiding behind their families or neighbors, sick, injured or children. When a few individuals fire at you from a crowded market, you want me to just sit there and deal with being shot at and possibly die, FU ACLU.

Also, whats the word we can take from those countries that they were actually civilians? Someone carrying a gun is militia, someone who died carrying a gun was a soldier, but in the time it takes to get a team in there to confirm kills, those guns disappear and now proof of militia is gone and so they are just civilians now. I doubt the Civilian casualties are actually as high as they are perceived. I think it usually is militia, but someone else picks up the gun and takes their place.

UAVs will never be automated when it comes to killing. That is something that has too much potential for snafu, the military would never allow it. They are autonomous as far as flying a pattern, as any plane is (yes even commercial flights are mostly automated now). Firing control will never be a non-human decision.

Re:Jurisdiction and other issues (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509812)

Really? IIRC there are some US air defense ships (or whatever they are called) that have a "kill anything that looks unfriendly" mode, which pretty much makes autonomous decisions. I wouldn't be surprised if we'll soon see flying or land-based robots that make autonomous kill decisions. I suppose an operator will still have to tell the robot to stand down or go hot, and perhaps have a self destruct option.

Re:Jurisdiction and other issues (1)

Pinhedd (1661735) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509926)

they may have developed such a technology at one point or another but no automated interceptor aircraft are employed at all. The US does employ automated defense systems such as the Phalanx CIWS but these still require human monitoring and wont engage large targets such as aircraft.

Re:Jurisdiction and other issues (1)

radtea (464814) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509958)

Firing control will never be a non-human decision.

And we can close up the patent office because everything has already been invented.

And that atomic power stuff? Moonshine, man, pure moonshine.

Re:Jurisdiction and other issues (1)

Pinhedd (1661735) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509758)

I was having this exact discussion with my family a few days ago. The only difference between a market full of militants and a market full of civilians is the number of guns scavenged from their corpses.

no skynet jokes allowed? (1)

rarel (697734) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509602)

Someone always has to ruin the fun :(

Due Process, dot the i's cross the t's and kill (4, Insightful)

RichMan (8097) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509652)

There is supposed to be a legal process where one gets found guilty in a court of law, gets to appeal and then get sentenced to execution. Even then most states have recognized the process has a number of flaws.

Here we apparently have the US government selecting US citizens for death and then carrying out the killing without the involvement of the courts. The ACLU is asking how such operation is valid under the US constitution. Every US citizen should be worried about a process where the government is able to execute citizens without going through the court system. Because the men in black masks might start making local visits.

Re:Due Process, dot the i's cross the t's and kill (1)

Pinhedd (1661735) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509854)

If an enemy combatant starts taking potshots across the boarder at US soldiers, escorts a convoy full of weapons destined for insurgents, encourages acts of terror or militancy and engages in these acts in a combat zone, region administered by martial law or region outside the jurisdiction of the united states but not maintained by any government (tribal regions of Pakistan) then they are an enemy and NOT a US Citizen. As a result, they are not afforded any of the protections under our constitution or laws.

Re:Due Process, dot the i's cross the t's and kill (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509932)

Every US citizen should be worried about a process where the government is able to execute citizens without going through the court system.

Hi. I'm a US Citizen. I joined the Russian army and have bombed several US Embassies. But you can't kill me without a fair trial because I'm a US Citizen.

Something seems wrong with this picture.

I am not sure that US Citizenship protects you against your own actions that may make you an enemy target due to you joining a military at war with the US. I'm not saying that necessarily is happening her, since of course I didn't read the article, but your statement seems to be painting some pretty broad strokes, as if no US Citizen can ever be killed ("executed" - a much more sensationalist term) by "the government" (the military, etc) without their rights and a court trial.

Re:Due Process, dot the i's cross the t's and kill (1)

at_slashdot (674436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509966)

True, but to some point, if you are armed and dangerous and want to kill people you have no right to "legal process" just like somebody who keeps people in a robbery at gunpoint doesn't have any such rights. If you are captured or you surrender then yes, you have the rights for legal process, otherwise you are fair game.

Due process and fair trial? (5, Insightful)

mukund (163654) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509738)

I have always felt this method of targeting individuals illegal at best. It may be legal to use force when there is a declared war happening and this is among soldiers.

But such targeted killing of individuals has happened in many countries now, without any trial. In several cases, surrounding civilians also become causalities, even though they may just be passers-by. WTF?

Before al-Zarqawi was killed in Iraq, nobody wanted him alive. But that bombing which caused his death also killed civilians including children in that building, who may have had no choice but to be there.

How is a government any better than the terrorists then? Like many say, if such things happen where there is no due process and no care about collateral damage, then the terrorists have already won and there's no difference between us and them.

Re:Due process and fair trial? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31509892)

Killing innocent people with a drone is similar to killing someone while intoxicated - the drunk driver may argue that they lost control - but they are still responsible for their action. If the drone kills innocents, then the American government and people should make right - reimburse the innocent people killed and their families as any involuntary killing should be handled.

Re:Due process and fair trial? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509918)

So if a government builds their nuclear missle silos on the grounds of a childrens hospital we need to just stand there and say....

"Oh MAN! CHEATERS!!!!!!"

I dont think you understand how war works.

No torture (1)

binkless (131541) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509844)

It will be amusing to see how the "no waterboarding" crowd defends itself against this. Exactly how is waterboarding worse than remote control assassination of anyone unfortunate enough to be nearby a US target at the wrong time?

Re:No torture (1)

radtea (464814) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509940)

Exactly how is waterboarding worse than remote control assassination of anyone unfortunate enough to be nearby a US target at the wrong time?

Remarkably enough, something doesn't have to be worse than assassination to me morally wrong.

In fact, many things that aren't even as bad as assassination--waterboarding and other forms of torture amongst them--are morally wrong.

If drones piss them off then..... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509870)

they will go ape when GI's in the field cover a "bigdog" in backpacks full of C4 and send it into a building full of insurgents..... or down the street to take out the two buildings that are full of people shooting at them.

BOOM!

Who gets to decide who dies? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31509896)

If it was only targeting combatants on a battlefield it wouldn't be a problem. The problem is there is a list of people that the military is trying to hunt down and execute outside of a battlefield, the list includes US citizens that haven't been convicted of anything in any court of law or military tribunal.

This means that someone in the US government is deciding which US citizens to execute, with no public or judicial oversight. This seems like exactly the sort of thing the ACLU would be interested in, it is just a pity that news organizations aren't.

I am sure that this secret power to execute US citizens could never be abused and that the people making these decisions would never make a mistake, or cover up that mistake they would never make, but I would feel more comfortable if I knew how the process of deciding who to hunt down and execute worked.

Killing someone who isn't a member of any nations military and isn't currently on a battlefield or actively trying to kill you at the time is a job for the courts not the military.

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