The problem with targeted killings

February 14, 2013

Ed Armstrong [letters, Feb. 10] compared targeted killings of Americans to shooting at Americans who have put on enemy uniforms and shot back.

Here’s the difference: By donning the uniform of a state we were at war with, those Americans chose to make themselves targets. They were also protected by the Geneva Conventions and had the ability to surrender. Targeted killings of Americans abroad, in contrast, involve the United States unilaterally labeling those citizens terrorists. The recipients have no due process or alternative protection.

War powers have always been kept in check by the inevitable end of the war. Assassinations have always been kept in check by protests from the governments of the victims. When the United States kills its own in the name of the war on terror, there is no check on government power. I think we have a right to know the process by which the administration can indefinitely ignore its civic duties to its citizens.

Jon Nardolilli, Arlington

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