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The Role of Targeted Killing in the Campaign against Terror
AIRBORNE DIV (101ST) FORT CAMPBELL KY
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Targeted killing is the intentional slaying of a specific individual or group of individuals undertaken with explicit government approval. In recent years, targeted killing as a tactic in the ongoing campaign against terrorism has generated considerable controversy. Some commentators view it as an indispensable tool and argue for its expanded use, while others question its legality and claim that it is immoral and ultimately ineffective. The tactic of targeted killing is most closely associated with Israels campaign against the Second Palestinian Intifada. Since September 11, 2001, however, the United States has consistently conducted targeted killing operations against terrorist personnel. This article examines the legality, morality, and potential efficacy of a U.S. policy of targeted killing in its campaign against transnational terror. The conclusion is that, in spite of the genuine controversy surrounding this subject, a carefully circumscribed policy of targeted killing can be a legal, moral, and effective tool in a counterterrorism campaign. Procedures to guide the proper implementation of a U.S. policy of targeted killing are proposed.
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