Category Archives: Podcast / Audio / Video

Applying the LOAC to current Middle East conflicts

Posted by Travis Normand
April 18, 2017

A great discussion involving Geoff Corn (moderator), Ken Watkin, Mike Meier, and Rich Goss regarding the Law of Armed Conflict and its applicability in modern conflicts. This panel discussion was hosted by the University of Virginia Law School’s Center for National Security Law. 

While the entire video is almost an hour and a half long, it is well worth your time.

Video Recorded and Published by the University of Virginia School of Law on March 10, 2017 (with the following caption):

A panel of national security law experts discusses the challenges of translating traditional rules of war to the unconventional conflicts taking place in the Middle East. The panel consists of Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Ken Watkin (former Judge Advocate General, Canadian Armed Forces); Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Rich Gross (former legal counsel, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) and Michael Meier (office of the Judge Advocate General, Department of the Army). Geoff Corn, South Texas College of Law, moderates. This panel was part of the UVA Law conference “Region in Turmoil: Conflicts in the Middle East.” (University School of Law, March 2, 2017)
Hyperlinks added by Travis Normand.

Concern grows over Predator Drone usage

by Travis Normand

While I understand the following rationale, and I even agree with it to a certain extent, my initial reaction is to defend the use of drones by the U.S.

Brennan said the [Obama] administration has determined it can conduct targeted drone strikes against suspected terrorists in order to prevent attacks on the U.S. and to save American lives, and he said there was nothing in international law that bans this. But Bellinger . . . says it doesn’t matter what technology is involved, whether it’s a drone or bullet, virtually no other country in the world buys into the U.S. rationale.

“This looks a lot like an assassination; the U.S. firmly believes that it is not — that this is a military action in self-defense against someone,” he said. “But the human rights community is growing increasingly concerned about what they call targeted killings of particular individuals.”

. . . .

Tom Parker, policy director for terrorism and counterterrorism at Amnesty international, says the U.S. needs to be careful because its rationale for the use of drones could be abused by others. For example, the Chinese could use it to go after people it considers a national security threat — maybe Uighur or Tibetan activists living in a third country, he says.

There is “absolutely nothing stopping them from using the same justification,” he said. “And, of course, terrorism is often in the eye of the beholder. You’re going to see states use this justification to carry out attacks on human rights activists and political opponents.”

Read the entire article here.

My argument would be rather simple, and it is that the U.S.’s drone usage is in direct response to our “war on terrorism.” This war was launched following the attacks on 9/11 and it has been one of the first of its kind. While conceptually new in terms of its global scope, the war is in fact real. We do have an armed military engaged in other countries and we are using drones to follow the enemy where ever they may run and hide.

In other words, if another country simply started using drones to take-out those it saw as undesirable, I would ask: (1) was the target a “terrorist” threat?; (2) by use of the drone, are you claiming to be at war with someone?; (3) what other efforts are you using in this war?; and (4) is the drone one of many different vehicles of war or is it your sole/primary means of attack?

Of course, such a construct is unworkable and would arguably place restrictions on drone usage. If nothing else, it would limit drone usage only against those you are already actively pursuing with a live military.

Hamdi v. Rumsfeld: NPR Talk of the Nation

by Travis Normand

This is a little old, but the information is still good.

I am posting this because I love finding podcasts online of LOAC or National Security discussions.  I find it to be one of the best ways to re-educate my mind on many of the different topics that I learned in law school.

This podcast is from NPR’s Talk of the Nation and features as guests:  (1) David Savage: SCOTUS Reporter for LA Times; (2) Deborah Perlstein: Director of the US Law & Security Program at Human Rights First; and (3) John Yoo: Prof. of Law at Cal Berkeley.

Link to Podcast Page