The U.S. government is engaged in a “secret” drone campaign that has already resulted in the deaths of some 4,700 people in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia alone. The CIA and Joint Special Operations Command maintain formal lists indicating which individuals they intend to kill. The CIA also carries out strikes aimed at groups of people whose identities the CIA does not know but whose actions or behavior conform to undisclosed “signatures.” The publicly available information about the program is surely troubling, but many crucial aspects of it remain shrouded in secrecy. Is the program lawful? Is the secrecy surrounding it justified?
Open Society Fellow Jameel Jaffer, currently on sabbatical from his position as the Director of the ACLU’s Center for Democracy, discussed ongoing legal challenges to the program and to the government's refusal to release more information about it. Jaffer’s Fellowship project traces the erosion of individual privacy and the expansion of official secrecy since 9/11. Jonathan Horowitz, the Open Society Justice Initiative Associate Legal Officer for National Security and Counterterrorism, moderated.