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02/17/2015

Michael Stokes Paulsen: The Commander in Chief Power to Target and Kill Americans
Michael Ramsey

Michael Stokes Paulsen (University of St. Thomas School of Law) has posted Drone on: The Commander in Chief Power to Target and Kill Americans (38 Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy 43 (2015)) on SSRN. Here is the abstract: 

The President of the United States, in his capacity as Commander in Chief in time of legally authorized war, possesses the constitutional power to target and kill specific individuals that he determines to be active enemy combatants engaged in lawful or unlawful hostilities against the United States. In targeting and killings such combatants, the President may use any and all appropriate weapons technologies available to him -- including drone technology.

Such enemy combatants might sometimes be, unfortunately, United States citizens. The constitutional power of the President to target and kill such citizen enemy combatants is no different from the power to target and kill enemy combatants generally.

This article examines this core proposition in the context of the paradigmatic case of the targeted killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen and al Qaeda operational commander, by drone attack in Yemen in 2011.