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UN launches an investigation into drone strikes
Obama's policy of using lethal force against suspected terrorists is coming under further scrutiny after a document alleged to be a Justice Department white paper was obtained by the US media.
The document moves the goalposts in regards to when the government is authorised to carry out the killing of a US citizen, like Anwar al-Awlaki or his teenage son in Yemen in 2011.
Specifically, it broadens the criteria of who might be considered an "imminent threat" to the US.
According to the white paper, there are three criteria for the legally acceptable extrajudicial killing of a US citizen who is identified as a senior operational leader of al-Qaeda or an associated force.
Firstly, an "informed, high-level official" must conclude that a US citizen poses what it calls an imminent threat of violent attack against the US. Secondly, the government must conclude that capture is not feasible. And finally, the operation should be conducted under the applicable laws of war.
US citizens who are targeted need not have been charged with a crime, the paper states. Those targeted also do not need to be informed of the allegations against them. The US paper also contends that the government's actions cannot be reviewed by any court.
The Obama administration has made repeated use of targeted killings. Most of these killings are conducted through drone strikes.
Last week, the UN announced a major investigation into drone strikes.
Led by the UN's special rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights, the study will examine the extent of civilian casualties, and the wider consequences of an expanding global drone war.
It is estimated that, of the more than 3,000 people killed in US drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, 500 were civilians.
While US officials say that the strikes exclusively target terrorists, critics argue that drone strikes cause high civilian casualties. Critics also say the lethal attacks are illegal under international law.
How's that Noble Peace prize working out for you Obama.
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