Boston Bombing Changes Lawmakers’ Views on Drone Killings of Americans on U.S. Soil:After Boston, lawmakers see case for use of drones to kill Americans

Thursday, April 25, 2013
By Paul Martin

April 23, 2013

In the aftermath of the Boston bombing standoff that ended last Friday, lawmakers have changed their tune on whether a drone should ever be used to target an American citizen on U.S. soil.

The use of drones to kill American citizens is not “inherently illegal,” as long as that citizen is a “combatant,” a constitutional expert told a Senate panel considering the implications of targeted killings Tuesday.

“I think it’s not inherently illegal to target American citizens so long as American citizens are also combatants in a relevant war. Sometimes U.S. citizens can be classified as enemy combatants” Ilya Somin, a law professor at George Mason University School of Law, told the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights.

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

That question has become increasingly important as senators such as Ted Cruz and Rand Paul consider the possibility of American citizens being targeted by drones on U.S. soil. In September, 2011, suspected Al-Qaeda operative and U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen.

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