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(Washington Post)   Lawyer makes the case that CIA drone operators are unlawful combatants   (washingtonpost.com) divider line 223
    More: Interesting  
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10891 clicks; posted to Main » on 13 Mar 2010 at 6:35 AM (5 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2010-03-12 10:17:45 PM  
interesting theory. I'm not sure what relevance it has outside of academic interest, but it's something to think about anyways.
 
2010-03-12 10:20:37 PM  
Absolutely. Just because you're at home steering a remote-controlled weapons platform to assassinate civilians doesn't mean you're therefore not responsible for their deaths.

Unfortunately, the article's author wimps out right at the end:
And while the prosecution of CIA personnel is certainly not suggested, one wonders whether CIA civilians who are associated with armed drones appreciate their position in the law of armed conflict.

If CIA personnel are violating the Geneva Conventions, they should indeed be prosecuted. Why is it that it's OK to push others toward The Hague while we shield our own people?
 
2010-03-12 10:21:41 PM  
What do they say about the law of unintended consequences?
 
2010-03-12 10:34:11 PM  
FormlessOne: Why is it that it's OK to push others toward The Hague while we shield our own people?

wharSOVEREIGNTYgarbl, duh
 
2010-03-12 10:34:16 PM  
Only a fascist socialist would say that.
 
2010-03-12 10:36:05 PM  
CIA personnel are civilians?
 
2010-03-12 10:44:45 PM  
R.A.Danny: CIA personnel are civilians?

Are they uniformed personnel serving in a nation-state's military?
 
2010-03-12 10:48:02 PM  
R.A.Danny: CIA personnel are civilians?

Ask the IRS, they are going full-bore trying to define what a "contractor" is.

Link (new window)

I have no idea how they work it.
 
2010-03-12 10:49:42 PM  
Occam's Chainsaw: R.A.Danny: CIA personnel are civilians?

Are they uniformed personnel serving in a nation-state's military?


The CIA guys I've seen while in the military were. That doesn't speak for these particular agents though, so I am asking.
 
2010-03-12 10:51:00 PM  
R.A.Danny: The CIA guys I've seen while in the military were. That doesn't speak for these particular agents though, so I am asking.

And the particular branch of the armed services they were serving in was? And they were subject to the chain of command and the UCMJ?
 
2010-03-12 10:54:57 PM  
Weaver95: interesting theory. I'm not sure what relevance it has outside of academic interest, but it's something to think about anyways.

I like the idea that people are removed from harms way with these craft. I am terrified of the idea that people are being killed in a way that must be akin to playing a video game.
 
2010-03-12 10:55:34 PM  
Occam's Chainsaw: R.A.Danny: The CIA guys I've seen while in the military were. That doesn't speak for these particular agents though, so I am asking.

And the particular branch of the armed services they were serving in was? And they were subject to the chain of command and the UCMJ?


I was in the USMC. I was not in a position to know who they answered to. Is that the litmus test? I can say that cops refer to the public as civilians, but that doesn't make me any less of a GED lawyer. You can answer me (this is an actual question, not a troll. I don't know the answer so I am asking) or you can admit you're talking out of your ass.
 
2010-03-12 11:00:17 PM  
The lawyer/author would be hired by AG Holder in a second.
 
2010-03-12 11:00:45 PM  
The CIA has been involved in combat for years. I know someone who was on an Air America base in Thailand in 1961-2. According to him, they were doing bomb runs on a daily basis.
 
2010-03-12 11:02:57 PM  
Phil Herup: The lawyer/author would be hired by AG Holder in a second.

The AG Holder who has gone out of his way not to even give the hint of thinking of pondering the suggestion of implicating that anyone in the prior administration did anything at all that in any way shape or form remotely approached violating the law when it comes to prosecution of war and treatment of detainees? That AG Holder?
 
2010-03-12 11:12:11 PM  
I wonder about the need for CIA drones to begin with. Sure, we need CIA assets on the ground identifying potential targets, but we've got two large facilities in Nevada and NYC where there are plenty of Reaper and Predator pilots flying missions over Iraq and Afghanistan 24/7. Why not leave the bombing to them?
 
2010-03-12 11:24:08 PM  
minoridiot: The CIA has been involved in combat for years. I know someone who was on an Air America base in Thailand in 1961-2. According to him, they were doing bomb runs on a daily basis.

Thank you for stating what should be common knowledge but isn't.

The CIA is so freekin' involved in every possible overseas department, whether state or defense, it's hard to tell who is who. And has been for decades.
 
2010-03-12 11:26:00 PM  
R.A.Danny: I was in the USMC. I was not in a position to know who they answered to. Is that the litmus test? I can say that cops refer to the public as civilians, but that doesn't make me any less of a GED lawyer. You can answer me (this is an actual question, not a troll. I don't know the answer so I am asking) or you can admit you're talking out of your ass.

I'm not trying to troll here, these are serious questions. There are several conventions on what constitutes a uniformed combatant. Wearing a distinctive uniform is one of them, belonging to a specific state-sanctioned armed force (and presumably subject to command and any applicable laws) is another. Otherwise you fall into that area labeled "civilian criminal and/or spy; execute at-will". Or if you're fighting against America, we invent a new gray area and ship you to a black site.

It's entirely possible that the boys from Langley are also seconded to the Army on an organizational chart on paper somewhere, and that also makes them servicemen. It's also possible that they require you to wear a uniform when you show up to fly Predators. If so, the whole article's invalid. But I certainly know of no such condition. Thusly why I'm asking.
 
2010-03-12 11:27:09 PM  
This is something that deserves a lot more attention than it gets. As does the entire topic about CIA involvement referenced above.
 
2010-03-12 11:40:25 PM  
Occam's Chainsaw: R.A.Danny: I was in the USMC. I was not in a position to know who they answered to. Is that the litmus test? I can say that cops refer to the public as civilians, but that doesn't make me any less of a GED lawyer. You can answer me (this is an actual question, not a troll. I don't know the answer so I am asking) or you can admit you're talking out of your ass.

I'm not trying to troll here, these are serious questions. There are several conventions on what constitutes a uniformed combatant. Wearing a distinctive uniform is one of them, belonging to a specific state-sanctioned armed force (and presumably subject to command and any applicable laws) is another. Otherwise you fall into that area labeled "civilian criminal and/or spy; execute at-will". Or if you're fighting against America, we invent a new gray area and ship you to a black site.

It's entirely possible that the boys from Langley are also seconded to the Army on an organizational chart on paper somewhere, and that also makes them servicemen. It's also possible that they require you to wear a uniform when you show up to fly Predators. If so, the whole article's invalid. But I certainly know of no such condition. Thusly why I'm asking.


I have personally seen them in cammies, boots, and kevlars.
I wasn't on the need to know list as far as chain of command, but there were some definite joint ops going on with some known SEALS and Recon types. There were also very expensive looking rifle bags, I'm assuming snipers were involved with gear our guys could only dream about. That was all visible by everyone on base.

May I add that I'm old. The CIA has been part of every armed conflict since there has been a CIA.
 
2010-03-12 11:46:39 PM  
R.A.Danny: May I add that I'm old. The CIA has been part of every armed conflict since there has been a CIA.

Oh absolutely, and the ONI before them. If the assertion by TFA is accurate, though, it's yet another example of American Exceptionalism, AKA "it's not illegal when we do it!". It's like we're hell-bent on undermining the rule of law.
 
2010-03-12 11:50:54 PM  
R.A.Danny: Occam's Chainsaw: R.A.Danny: I was in the USMC. I was not in a position to know who they answered to. Is that the litmus test? I can say that cops refer to the public as civilians, but that doesn't make me any less of a GED lawyer. You can answer me (this is an actual question, not a troll. I don't know the answer so I am asking) or you can admit you're talking out of your ass.

I'm not trying to troll here, these are serious questions. There are several conventions on what constitutes a uniformed combatant. Wearing a distinctive uniform is one of them, belonging to a specific state-sanctioned armed force (and presumably subject to command and any applicable laws) is another. Otherwise you fall into that area labeled "civilian criminal and/or spy; execute at-will". Or if you're fighting against America, we invent a new gray area and ship you to a black site.

It's entirely possible that the boys from Langley are also seconded to the Army on an organizational chart on paper somewhere, and that also makes them servicemen. It's also possible that they require you to wear a uniform when you show up to fly Predators. If so, the whole article's invalid. But I certainly know of no such condition. Thusly why I'm asking.

I have personally seen them in cammies, boots, and kevlars.
I wasn't on the need to know list as far as chain of command, but there were some definite joint ops going on with some known SEALS and Recon types. There were also very expensive looking rifle bags, I'm assuming snipers were involved with gear our guys could only dream about. That was all visible by everyone on base.

May I add that I'm old. The CIA has been part of every armed conflict since there has been a CIA.


The CIA is not only involved in every armed conflict since there has been a CIA. They have also been involved in overseas "friendly" missions. My ex was "with" the defense department overseas in the past.
 
2010-03-12 11:51:49 PM  
Occam's Chainsaw: R.A.Danny: May I add that I'm old. The CIA has been part of every armed conflict since there has been a CIA.

Oh absolutely, and the ONI before them. If the assertion by TFA is accurate, though, it's yet another example of American Exceptionalism, AKA "it's not illegal when we do it!". It's like we're hell-bent on undermining the rule of law.


Seems more iffy than some of the contractors we use, Blackwater for example. They are clearly not part of the armed forces or even part of law enforcement. Sitting st a checkpoint behind half a dozen ma-deuces and firing on threats... I just don't know about that one.
 
2010-03-13 12:22:06 AM  
whats up with the sudden hate over drones this last week or so?
 
2010-03-13 12:50:22 AM  
vartian: Weaver95: interesting theory. I'm not sure what relevance it has outside of academic interest, but it's something to think about anyways.

I like the idea that people are removed from harms way with these craft. I am terrified of the idea that people are being killed in a way that must be akin to playing a video game.


trekmovie.com
 
2010-03-13 12:59:31 AM  
I overlooked the word "operator" when I read that and was envisioning unmanned drones imprisoned in a Gitmo style facility and possibly waterboarded.
 
2010-03-13 02:13:56 AM  
Occam's Chainsaw: R.A.Danny: May I add that I'm old. The CIA has been part of every armed conflict since there has been a CIA.

Oh absolutely, and the ONI before them. If the assertion by TFA is accurate, though, it's yet another example of American Exceptionalism, AKA "it's not illegal when we do it!". It's like we're hell-bent on undermining the rule of law.



It's not, according to some. It's far more important that we not be perceived as weak to some goat herders in the desert.

'Cause it would be terrible to be seen as weak. So, we happily abandon our own rule of law whenever its convenient.

Hell, we don't just violate the letter of the law, we completely break its spirit too. We make the law cry like a little anally raped girl.

But those goat herders won't see us as weak. They'll see us as strong and willing to break our own laws if they attack us. Or if they try to resist us.

And that is what's important. Saving face. Even if we have to anally rape the law and shred the Constitution.
 
2010-03-13 06:41:04 AM  
Those that control the spice control the law.
 
2010-03-13 06:43:21 AM  
Wow, that was actually an interesting read.
 
2010-03-13 06:46:35 AM  
The question in my mind became, "Is this a legal defense for Guantanamo detainees?".
The US Constitution prohibits selective prosecution so is the US compelled to prosecute all enemy combatants or none by default.
 
2010-03-13 06:53:49 AM  
FTFA: Today, civilian participation in combat is still prohibited by two 1977 protocols to the 1949 Geneva Conventions. Although the United States has not ratified the protocols, we consider the prohibition to be customary law, binding on all nations.

That's one of the things that gets me the most about US policy. It's a matter of "do as I say, not as I do" in that we hold others accountable where we won't hold ourselves to the same standard. And why should we? As the biggest dog on the block, why cooperate with the dog catcher? He hates us, anyway. Or so the thinking goes. At any rate, we're not exactly engendering good will by our hypocrisy.

As for the point raised in the article, it is an interesting angle. Of course, regardless of whether or not you think it's a valid position it doesn't matter one way or another (see previous paragraph).
 
2010-03-13 06:53:53 AM  
R.A.Danny: Occam's Chainsaw: R.A.Danny: The CIA guys I've seen while in the military were. That doesn't speak for these particular agents though, so I am asking.

And the particular branch of the armed services they were serving in was? And they were subject to the chain of command and the UCMJ?

I was in the USMC. I was not in a position to know who they answered to. Is that the litmus test? I can say that cops refer to the public as civilians, but that doesn't make me any less of a GED lawyer. You can answer me (this is an actual question, not a troll. I don't know the answer so I am asking) or you can admit you're talking out of your ass.



I would say that, technically, the CIA is a civilian group and, unless they are officially attached to a military branch and sworn to protect the US Constitution and follow the rules of the UCMJ, then they are in violation of international laws which the US has signed (making them highest-level US laws cuz that's how that works).....if we're at war.

The US is currently involved in no wars, other than with North Korea - a semi-permanent cease-fire, and hasn't been for a long long time.

These are diplomatic air strikes; like attending a state dinner in Paris, except with more fire, excitement, and screaming children.

And *that* is why Congress has surrendered their soul-authority to declare war: it protects the US from breaking certain international rules regarding wars and the way they're fought.

/just an educated guess
 
2010-03-13 06:56:34 AM  
Resolve future conflicts with a game of MWF2?
 
2010-03-13 06:58:21 AM  
Rumpleforskin: Resolve future conflicts with a game of MWF2?

Seriously. The respawn time alone makes that a no-brainer.

It takes forever to get a new UAV into position...
 
2010-03-13 07:04:10 AM  
Nothing new here. Every armed force in the world uses illegal combatants (i.e. nonuniformed ones). They're called spies. And traditionally, if illegal combatants are caught by the enemy, they are killed on the spot, as they are not protected by the laws of war. So if you work for the CIA and the enemy gets a hold of you, it's just too bad. I'm sure every CIA employee, whether salaried or contract, knows this.

I doubt that the US will be the first country to do away with illegal combatants.
 
2010-03-13 07:05:46 AM  
The CIA is a spy agency. Spies can be shot or hanged when captured, and are by definition unlawful combatants. This is not a repeat from 1776.
 
2010-03-13 07:07:12 AM  
upright_apes_r_us: The US Constitution prohibits selective prosecution

No, it doesn't.
 
2010-03-13 07:08:26 AM  
Oh, and "unlawful combatant" =/= "war criminal," which is why our drone pilots aren't hauled off to The Hague. It just means you're not protected by the Geneva Convention the way a uniformed soldier is.
 
2010-03-13 07:10:46 AM  
The real question is, how long before some guy in India is operating that drone?

/half serious
 
2010-03-13 07:12:07 AM  
www.halolz.com

/Approves
 
2010-03-13 07:13:00 AM  
The CIA is under the DOD budget but is a civilian organization. They may be considered paramilitary in this case or the actions can be viewed as assassinations.

And who cares if they wear a uniform? No one on the receiving end can see them anyway. The drone would have to wear the uniform, which would look rather odd.
 
2010-03-13 07:14:33 AM  
The CIA are not law enforcement and are allowed to aid the military.
The CIA are information gathering as a group and supply much of our military with intelligence, which is completely legal.

It is a horrible assumption by some damned journalist to assume that a any CIA drones are armed with anything beyond cameras. This is just a ridiculous bit of over-stating what the Washington Post might suspect but can't prove.

Or maybe the US Federal Government should try real wartime punishments for the paper and the author and drop both from about 8-miles high and see if they bounce.
 
2010-03-13 07:14:42 AM  
ra-ra-raw: the 'Erik Prince Uniform in the Wallet' act of 2010 which stipulates that the protection offered by the Geneva Conventions for uniformed combatants will be guaranteed by the expense account attached to your Gold Visa or Mastercard.

The reason I started writing my earlier post was the above sentence. I thought that someone who sees the writing on the wall but was not interested in reading the whole post might enjoy it.
 
2010-03-13 07:14:59 AM  
CIA. Intelligence. Intelligence, not combat.
 
2010-03-13 07:15:37 AM  
Giblet: The US is currently involved in no wars, other than with North Korea - a semi-permanent cease-fire, and hasn't been for a long long time.

Except those perpetual ones that aren't actual proper wars, but eternal police actions with ever-shifting rules. Y'know, like the War on [INSERT VAGUE CONCEPT HERE].
 
2010-03-13 07:19:19 AM  
TANGO SUCKA
 
2010-03-13 07:20:57 AM  
tirob: Nothing new here. Every armed force in the world uses illegal combatants (i.e. nonuniformed ones). They're called spies. And traditionally, if illegal combatants are caught by the enemy, they are killed on the spot, as they are not protected by the laws of war. So if you work for the CIA and the enemy gets a hold of you, it's just too bad. I'm sure every CIA employee, whether salaried or contract, knows this.

I doubt that the US will be the first country to do away with illegal combatants.



This. Plus, international laws regarding war are irrelevant if you never declare war in the first place; a perfectly valid defense in a scro-less international court.

This allows (a purely fictitious) Union Carbidium, who wants to open a chemical plant in Costa Ricastan but is getting push-back from the Costa Ricastani government, to approach Senators Bob and Nancy and propose a huge fund raiser for their upcoming election, in return for assurances that the US military and CIA will apply pressure to the Costa Ricastani government. For Freedom, Liberty, and Freedom. Eagles.

Result: Senators Bob (D - NG) and Nancy (R - NR) get reelected, those damned terrorist commie fascist al qaeda redcoats who were operating from bases in Costa Ricastan and backed by their corrupt government, get the crap bombed out of them. Union Carbidium opens their chemical plant when the dust has settled. MSM announces victory (lots of tears of joy) and covers the parades, then pauses to remember our fallen soldiers, aaaaaaaand fade to a commercial-break.

That's how it works now. All legal-like.
 
2010-03-13 07:33:00 AM  
Seit_N_Zounde: Or maybe the US Federal Government should try real wartime punishments for the paper and the author and drop both from about 8-miles high and see if they bounce.

You're either a troll or a Fascist.
 
2010-03-13 07:33:53 AM  
I'm curious... if the Predator pilots are flying the drones from Nevada what kind of delay is it from the point they push a button vs. the drone carrying out the command? Anyone know?
 
2010-03-13 07:34:32 AM  
Meh, its legal wankery without much of an application.

The only reasons we use drones instead of manned aircraft for these missions is because the operators cant be shot down and put on trial in someone elses kangaroo court. These drones are taking up the roles normally filled by cia enlisted foreign pilots (who often got the shiat end of the stick when orders to attack something came down from on high)...

If you have a problem with drone bombings, you should take it up with the president authorized the attacks. The soldiers who push the button, unlike terrorists acting independently, are following lawful orders from a chain of internationally recognized command.
 
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