Suggested Reading

Foundational Reflections

Michael L. Gross:
Assassination and Targeted Killing: Law Enforcement, Execution or Self-Defence?, 23 J. APPLIED PHIL. 323 (2006) [PDF]
David Kretzmer:
Targeted Killing of Suspected Terrorists: Extra-Judicial Executions or Legitimate Means of Defence?, 16 EUR. J. INT'L L. 171 (2005) [PDF]
Jeff McMahan:
The Ethics of Killing in War, 114 ETHICS 693 (2004) [PDF]
Jeff McMahan:
Killing in War (2009)
Andrew Altman and Christopher Heath Wellman:
From Humanitarian Intervention to Assassination: Human Rights and Political Violence, 118 ETHICS 228 (2008) [PDF]
Daniel Statman:
Targeted Killing, 5 THEORETICAL INQUIRIES L. 179 (2004) [PDF]
David Rodin:
War and Self-Defense (2005)
Francis M. Kamm:
Failures of Just War Theory: Terror, Harm, and Justice, 114 ETHICS 650 (2004)
Robert Chesney
Who May Be Killed? Anwar Al-Awlaki as a Case Study in the International Legal Regulation of Lethal Force
John C. Dehn & Kevin Jon Heller
Debate: Targeted Killing: The Case of Anwar Al-Aulaqi
Steven R. David
Israel's Policy of Targeted Killing, 17 ETHICS & INT'L AFF. 111 (2003) [PDF]
Tamar Meisels
Combatants - Lawful and Unlawful, 26 LAW & PHIL. 31 (2007) [PDF]
Philip Alston
The CIA and Targeted Killings Beyond Borders [PDF]
Kenneth Anderson
Targeted Killing and Drone Warfare: How We Came to Debate Whether There is a 'Legal Geography of War'

Background Law

Orna Ben-Naftalit & Keren R. Michaeli:
'We Must Not Make a Scarecrow of the Law': A Legal Analysis of the Israeli Policy of Targeted Killings, 36 CORNELL INT'L L.J. 233 (2003) [PDF]
William C. Banks and Peter Raven-Hansen:
Targeted Killing and Assassination: The U.S. Legal Framework, 37 U. RICH. L. REV. 667 (2003) [PDF]
Richard Murphy & Afsheen John Radsan:
Due Process and the Targeted Killing of Terrorists, 31 CARDOZO L. REV. 405 (2009) [PDF]
Mary Ellen O'Connell:
Unlawful Killing with Combat Drones: A Case Study of Pakistan, 2004-2009 (Notre Dame Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-43, 2010) (PDF)
Gabriella Blum and Philip Heymann:
Law and Policy of Targeted Killing, 1 HARV. NAT'L SEC. J. 145 (2010) [PDF]
Nils Melzer:
Targeted Killing in International Law (2008)
Jordan J. Praust:
Self-Defense Targetings of Non-State Actors and Permissibility of U.S. Use of Drones in Pakistan, 19.2 J. TRANSNAT'L L. & POL'Y 237 (2010) [PDF]
Kenneth Anderson:
Targeted Killing in U.S. Counterterrorism Strategy and Law (Brookings Inst., Working Paper, 2009) [PDF]
J. Nicholas Kendall:
Israeli Counter-Terrorism: "Targeted Killings" Under International Law, 80 N.C. L. REV. 1069 (2002) [PDF]
Michael L. Gross
Moral Dilemmas of Modern War: Torture, Assassination, and Blackmail in an Age of Asymmetric Conflict (2009)
Wittes v. O'Connell on Targeted Killing and Drones (2010), available at
Opinio Juris on Targeted Killing
The Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Federal Torture Statutes, 18 U.S.C § 2340 (A)-(B)
Federal Torture Statutes, 10 U.S.C § 948r
International Committee of the Red Cross, Clarifying the Notion of Direct Participation in Hostilities

Memoranda, Reports, and Cases

HCJ 769/02 Public Committee Against Torture v. Israel [2005] (Israeli "Targeted Killings Case) [PDF]
Memorandum of Law on Executive Order 12333 and Assassination, W. Hays Parks (1989) [PDF]
Drones II: Hearing before the H. Sub. Comm. on Nat'l Sec. & Foreign Aff., 111th Cong. (2010) (statement of Kenneth Anderson) [PDF]
Rise of the Drones: Unmanned Systems and the Future of War: Hearing before the H. Sub. Comm. on Nat'l Sec. & Foreign Aff., 111th Cong. (2010) (statement of Kenneth Anderson) [PDF]
• Harold Koh, Legal Adviser to Dept. of State, Address at American Society of International Law: International Law and the Obama Administration (March 25, 2010), available at
Al-Aulaqi Decision
The Year of the Drone (Data on Aerial Drone Strikes)
Report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Philip Alston [PDF]

Relation to Domestic Criminal Law

Lawrence Alexander:
The Doomsday Machine: Proportionality, Punishment and Prevention, 63 MIND 199 (1980) [PDF]
Claire Finkelstein:
Threats and Preemptive Practices, 5 LEGAL THEORY 311 (1999) [PDF]
Amos Guiora:
Targeted Killing as Active Self-Defense, 36 CASE W. RES. J. INT'L L. 319 (2004) [PDF]
Tenn v. Garner, 471 U.S. 1 (1984) (fleeing suspect case) [PDF]
Katko v. Briney, 183 N.W.2d 257 (Iowa 1971) (spring-gun case) [PDF]

Press Coverage

Inside the Killing Machine Newsweek
Gary Solis
CIA drone attacks produce America's own unlawful combatants
Geoffrey Robertson
Is It Lawful to Kill Gaddafi?
Ken Dilanian
CIA has slashed its terrorism interrogation role
Charlie Savage
Secret U.S. Memo Made Legal Case to Kill a Citizen New York Times
Scott Horton
Justifying the Killing of an American
David Cole
Killing Citizens in Secret
Ahmed Al-Haj
Yemen Says Air-Strike Kills Al-Qaeda Media Chief
Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker
U.S. Debated Cyberwarfare in Attack Plan on Libya
Morris Davis
Combatant Immunity and the Death of Anwar al-Awlaqi
Nicholas Schmidle
Getting Bin Ladin [PDF]
David S. Cloud and David Zucchino
Multiple missteps led to drone killing U.S. troops in Afghanistan
Spencer Ackerman
CIA Drones Kill Large Groups Without Knowing Who They Are
Daphne Eviatar
CIA Drones Gone Wild? [PDF]
Adam Entous
US Tightens Drone Rules
Daniel Swift
Drone Knowns and Drone Unknowns [PDF]
Iran's downing of U.S. drone rattles Washington Tehran Times
Scott Shane and David E. Sanger
Drone Crash in Iran Reveals Secret U.S. Surveillance Effort
Peter W. Singer
Do Drones Undermine Democracy? [PDF] New York Times
Eric Schmitt and Michael S. Schmidt
U.S. Drones Patrolling Its Skies Provoke Outrage in Iraq New York Times
Karen DeYoung
ACLU sues to force release of drone attack records The Washington Post
The complaint [PDF] by the ACLU
America's drone wars Los Angeles Times