Blog, Law, Policy

School of Law’s Greg McNeal Awarded Grant For Research On America’s Targeted Killing Policy

Greg McNeal Research GrantGreg McNeal, associate professor of law, has received $165,000 from the Carthage Foundation to research the U.S. practice of targeted killings. The research and resulting book will educate policymakers and the public about America’s use of lethal force against suspected terrorists.

Professor McNeal’s research is grounded in the idea that when the United States government kills people on traditional and non-traditional battlefields, bureaucrats play a key role in the killings yet have little visibility into the analytical processes that precede their final decisions. The book will be based on archival and field research and will explain, examine, and offer recommendations for enhancing the success, accountability, and effectiveness of U.S. policies conducted pursuant to America’s new way of warfare.

The research builds upon previous work conducted by Professor McNeal for his article “Targeted Killings and Accountability,” which was featured in the Georgetown Law Journal and won the 2013 Article of the Year award from the American National Section of the International Association of Penal Law. Professor McNeal also recently appeared on MSNBC to discuss the FAA’s selection of civilian drone testing sites in nine states.

Professor McNeal is an expert in international security with an active scholarly agenda focused on national security, warfare, surveillance, and new technologies. Since arriving at Pepperdine, he has twice been called upon to testify before Congress on matters related to national security and frequently consults with elected officials regarding proposed legislation. He recently consulted with and contributed to the development of two U.S. military field manuals aimed at preventing harm to civilians in conflict. He teaches criminal law, criminal procedure, and courses related to national security law and international affairs.

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Blog, Law

Texas Speaking Tour: Kill-Lists and Accountability

I’ll be on a speaking tour in Texas the week of March 24th, discussing my article Kill-Lists and Accountability, which is forthcoming in The Georgetown Law Journal.

All events are open to the public although some may require pre-registration:

DATE LOCATION SPONSOR
Monday, March 25th at Noon Southern Methodist University School of Law, Dallas, TX The Federalist Society (student chapter)
Monday, March 25th at 7:30pm University of Dallas, Dallas, TX (Lynch Auditorium) The Hamilton Society
Tuesday, March 26th at 5:00pm Baylor University School of Law, Waco, TX The Federalist Society (student chapter)
Wednesday, March 27th at 11:30am Sullivan’s Steakhouse, Austin, TX   Pre-registration required The Federalist Society (Austin lawyers chapter)
Wednesday, March 27th at 3:30pm University of Texas School of Law, Austin, TX The Federalist Society (student chapter)
Thursday, March 28th at 7:45am Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, Houston, TX  Pre-registration required The Federalist Society (Houston lawyers chapter)
Thursday, March 28th at Noon Texas A&M University, Bush School of Government and Public Service The Hamilton Society

 

 

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Blog, Law, Terrorism

Drone Rules and Targeted Killing: Huffington Post Live Segment

Today I appeared on Huffington Post Live on a panel discussing rules for the use of drones in targeted killings.  The panel information and video clip appear below.

In anticipation of the election, the Obama administration started working to codify drone policies. Why did they wait so long and what might the rules look like?  Originally aired on November 27, 2012

Hosted by:
GUESTS:

  • Josh Hersh (Washington, DC) HuffPost Foreign Policy Correspondent @joshuahersh
  • Hina Shamsi (New York, NY) Director of the National Security Project at the American Civil Liberties Union. @hinashamsi
  • Gregory S. McNeal (Malibu) Professor, Pepperdine University @gregorymcneal

 

http://embed.live.huffingtonpost.com/HPLEmbedPlayer/?segmentId=50b3bde302a76052b7000051

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Blog, Law, Lawfare, National Security, targeted killing

George Mason Law School: Kill-Lists and Accountability

GMU Law Logo

On November 14th at 12pm at George Mason University School of Law, I will be making a presentation entitled Kill-Lists and Accountability, based on my identically titled paper.  The abstract of the paper appears below:

This paper examines the U.S. practice of targeted killings. It proceeds in two parts, the first part is an empirical description of the process of targeted killings. Based on qualitative empirical research conducted pursuant to proven case study techniques, part one describes how kill-lists are created, what government actors approve the name of individuals to be added to kill lists, how targeted killings are executed, and how the U.S. implements its International Humanitarian Law obligation to mitigate and prevent harm to civilians.

Specifically, the paper explains in rich detail the process the U.S. follows to estimate and mitigate the impact of conventional weapons on collateral persons and objects in most targeted killings. Key Findings: In pre-planned operations the U.S. follows a rigorous collateral damage estimation process based on a progressively refined analysis of intelligence, weapon effects, and other information. When followed, this process dramatically reduces the amount of collateral damage in U.S. operations, and also ensures high levels of political accountability. However, due to the realities of combat operations, the process cannot always be followed; Data about the U.S. military’s collateral damage estimation process reveals that the system is intended to ensure that there will be a less than 10 percent probability of serious or lethal wounds to non-combatants; In actuality, less than 1% of pre-planned operations that followed the collateral damage estimation process resulted in collateral damage; When collateral damage has occurred, 70% of the time it was due to failed “positive identification” of a target. 22% of the time it was attributable to weapons malfunction, and a mere 8% of the time it was attributable to proportionality balancing – e.g. a conscious decision that anticipated military advantage outweighed collateral damage; According to public statements made by U.S. government officials the President of the United States or the Secretary of Defense must approve any pre-planned ISAF strike where 1 civilian casualty or greater is expected.

In the second part of the paper, I turn from the empirical to the normative. I describe the various mechanisms of accountability embedded in the targeted killing process. Specifically, I set forth an analytical framework which allows for the examination of legal, political, bureaucratic, and professional mechanisms of accountability. I then assess the strengths and weaknesses of these four accountability mechanisms as applied to U.S. targeted killings. The paper concludes by suggesting legal and policy reforms to address the shortcomings identified in the normative section. 

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Blog, Law, Terrorism

Kill-lists and Accountability Lecture at Penn State Law

KNewImageill-Lists and Accountability, a public lecture at Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law.  November 12, 2012 7 p.m.   

In targeted killings, who creates the “kill list?”  Who approves the names on the list? How is the targeted killing executed? Who is responsible for ensuring that the strike complies with international humanitarian law obligations? When killings are conducted in secret, how can we hold government accountable? National security scholar Gregory McNeal will present “Kill-lists and Accountability” at Penn State Law and the School of International Affairs.

The public is welcome to this event, which will begin at 7 p.m. in Lewis Katz Hall in Carlisle, PA. Registration is requested.

“As the shift from conventional combat to cyber attacks and targeted killings (often through unmanned drone strikes) accelerates, questions arise as to the applicability of the legal standards governing armed conflict developed in earlier times,” said Professor Amy Gaudion, who is organizing the event. “Professor McNeal’s work attempts to answer these questions, and offers recommendations for how the laws of war should apply when the tools in the combat arsenal change.” Professor McNeal’s presentation is based in part on recent field research he conducted into the U.S. practice of targeted killings, and specifically the creation and execution of “kill-lists”. His research concludes that less than 1% of preplanned operations conducted by the military result in collateral damage, but this only tells part of the story as reports indicate the CIA is also involved in the controversial practice.    

This program is co-sponsored by the American Constitution Society, Federalist Society, International Law Society, Military Law Caucus and Penn State Journal of Law & International Affairs, an interdisciplinary journal jointly published by Penn State Law and the Penn State School of International Affairs.
 
This event will be held in the Apfelbaum Family Courtroom and Auditorium in Lewis Katz Hall in Carlisle, PA, and simulcast to the Apfelbaum Courtroom, Lewis Katz Building, University Park, PA, and webcast live.  For more on this issue, see my article Kill-Lists and Accountability.
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Blog, Law, Lawfare, National Security, targeted killing

Kill-Lists and Accountability at Temple Law

TempleLogo

On November 7th at 12pm at Temple University School of Law, I will be making a presentation entitled Kill-Lists and Accountability, based on my identically titled paper.  The abstract of the paper appears below:

This paper examines the U.S. practice of targeted killings. It proceeds in two parts, the first part is an empirical description of the process of targeted killings. Based on qualitative empirical research conducted pursuant to proven case study techniques, part one describes how kill-lists are created, what government actors approve the name of individuals to be added to kill lists, how targeted killings are executed, and how the U.S. implements its International Humanitarian Law obligation to mitigate and prevent harm to civilians.

Specifically, the paper explains in rich detail the process the U.S. follows to estimate and mitigate the impact of conventional weapons on collateral persons and objects in most targeted killings. Key Findings: In pre-planned operations the U.S. follows a rigorous collateral damage estimation process based on a progressively refined analysis of intelligence, weapon effects, and other information. When followed, this process dramatically reduces the amount of collateral damage in U.S. operations, and also ensures high levels of political accountability. However, due to the realities of combat operations, the process cannot always be followed; Data about the U.S. military’s collateral damage estimation process reveals that the system is intended to ensure that there will be a less than 10 percent probability of serious or lethal wounds to non-combatants; In actuality, less than 1% of pre-planned operations that followed the collateral damage estimation process resulted in collateral damage; When collateral damage has occurred, 70% of the time it was due to failed “positive identification” of a target. 22% of the time it was attributable to weapons malfunction, and a mere 8% of the time it was attributable to proportionality balancing – e.g. a conscious decision that anticipated military advantage outweighed collateral damage; According to public statements made by U.S. government officials the President of the United States or the Secretary of Defense must approve any pre-planned ISAF strike where 1 civilian casualty or greater is expected.

In the second part of the paper, I turn from the empirical to the normative. I describe the various mechanisms of accountability embedded in the targeted killing process. Specifically, I set forth an analytical framework which allows for the examination of legal, political, bureaucratic, and professional mechanisms of accountability. I then assess the strengths and weaknesses of these four accountability mechanisms as applied to U.S. targeted killings. The paper concludes by suggesting legal and policy reforms to address the shortcomings identified in the normative section. 

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