For Immediate Release: February 22, 2012
Washington, DC — Human Rights First cautions that Department of Defense General Counsel Jeh Johnson’s remarks on the U.S. government’s counterterrorism authorities raise more questions than they answer. General Counsel Johnson’s comments were delivered at Yale University Law School, where he addressed the administration’s war efforts and the controversial targeted killing program using “drones” to target suspected terrorists with lethal force.
Human Rights First welcomed General Counsel Johnson’s comments that the war is not without end or limit. Human Rights First’s Raha Wala said, “Many have not picked up on the significance of the administration’s view that the war is not without end or limits. We would ask that the Administration make the end point even clearer. Suggesting the war extends outside Afghanistan to vaguely define associated forces is much too amorphous. With the end of the war in Iraq, the death of Osama Bin Laden and the decimation of al Qaeda, the end of combat operations in Afghanistan should mark the clear end of war.”
“With virtually every member of al Qaeda’s leadership killed or captured, it’s time to start thinking of an America that’s not perpetually at war with terrorists wherever they may be around the world,” said Wala. “There is no dispute that the threat from terrorism remains real and serious, but as we begin drawing down forces from Afghanistan, it’s time to rely on our law enforcement and intelligence professionals to handle these threats. They are best equipped to handle these increasingly de-centralized threats.”
Regarding the drone targeted killing program, Wala said, “The American people deserve to know who the government believes it can kill in our names. General Counsel Johnson’s speech did little to help shed light on the government’s approach to targeted killing. It is this unexplained secrecy that has caused so many to question this program.”