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The Legal Case For Robot War Gets Complicated

By Wired

April 29, 2010

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The legal debate over America's undeclared drone war in Pakistan is getting sharper: In a congressional hearing yesterday, a prominent law professor suggested that drone operators could, in, theory, be liable to criminal prosecution for "war crimes."

It's just one of the many sticky legal issues raised by observers of the CIA’s (and the military’s) lethal drone operations. "This is not an academic debate," Shane Harris of National Journal noted earlier this year. "Quietly, and with little apparent notice from the Obama administration, a broad range of important international actors are raising fundamental questions about the legality of drone strikes, particularly in countries where the United States does not have a military presence."

Kenneth Anderson, one of the law professors involved in the discussion, stated in his testimony that the one of the main challenges to drone campaign comes from the "international law community"--an influential group of players that includes UN investigators, human-rights activists and other critics.

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