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Somin Testifies on Use of Drones in Targeted Killings

Testifying on Capitol Hill April 23 before  a Senate Judiciary Committee subcommittee, Professor Ilya Somin commented on the use of drones abroad against both U.S. citizens and others, telling  lawmakers the use of drones to kill American citizens is not inherently illegal, as long as that citizen is a combatant. Somin’s remarks came at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights titled, "Drone Wars: The Constitutional and Counterterrorism Implications of Targeted Killings."

"I think it’s not inherently illegal to target American citizens so long as American citizens are also combatants in a relevant war," said Somin. "Sometimes U.S. citizens can be classified as enemy combatants."

"It’s not important [what technology we’re using], what matters is we’re choosing the right target," Somin advised. "If we’re choosing the right target then we should use the appropriate weapons, we’d be wrong to ban specific technology."

In his testimony, Somin stressed that constitutional problems would arise in the event the government failed to ensure the use of drones was strictly limited to legitimate terrorist targets, paricularly in the case of American citizens.

"I would urge the Subcommittee and Congress generally to consider adopting procedural safeguards that would minimize the likelihood of erroneous or illegal drone strikes," Somin cautioned. "One proposal that deserves serious consideration is the establishment of an independent court that would oversee drone strikes in advance."

Boston Bombing Changes Lawmakers’ Views on Drone Killings of Americans on U.S. Soil, U.S. News & World Report, April 23, 2013. By Jason Koebler.
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Read more about the hearing, read testimony, or view a webcast of the hearing