Wednesday, February 29, 2012

PF - Aid to Pakistan - Evidence Grab Bag

For more about Public Forum Debate including topic analysis, strategies and links to evidence, *click here*.

End of the Year
As the NFL debate season wraps up, I decided to create an evidence grab-bag for the PF Aid to Pakistan topic.  All of the links are found on the Internet without requiring any special subscriptions or log-ins to restricted sites.  Most of the evidence is by experts working at major think tanks, and informed commentators.  I did not read each article in depth.  I basically scanned them and thought they provided useful information. In some cases I am sure I incorrectly categorized them as either Pro or Con.  You can decide.  The best part...the evidence is out there and free of charge.  All you need to do is cut it into a case.

Pro or Con 
Should U.S. Continue Aid to Pakistan?, Council on Foreign Relations, 2011, May 17
Four experts provide their views

Should the U.S. Cut Off Aid to Pakistan?, New York Times, MAY 9, 2011
Links to a wide range of expert opinions.

Secretary Clinton's Remarks on Humanitarian Aid to Pakistan, May 2009, Council on Foreign Relations

U.S. Pakistan Relations, CQ Researcher
Differing points of view presented.

International Crises Group{E7471B49-9D61-4000-A4C1-3B5F380C35FE}
Excellent links to a range of articles and news

Pro (mostly)
After bin Laden: Bringing Change to Pakistan's Counterterrorism Policies, The Heritage Foundation, Lisa Curtis, 2011, May 12,
Calling for a suspension until...but this may swing more for the Con. This author generally advocates keeping aid but suspension may be in order.

Time to Stop Fooling Ourselves about Foreign Aid: A Practitioner's View, Cato Institute, Thomas Dichter, 2005
A call to rethink ALL foreign aid.

Stop Doing Harm in Pakistan, Carnegie Endowment, George Perkovich, SEPTEMBER 13, 2011
Trade not aid.

Stop Enabling Pakistan’s Dangerous Dysfunction, Carnegie Endowment, Perkovich, September 6, 2011

Pakistan: Stop Supporting Failing Schools, Internation Crisis Group, Shehryar Fazli, 17 Sep 2004
Suspend education support?

Con (a sampling of many)
The U.S. Should Maintain Aid to Pakistan, Especially in Education, Brookings Institute, 2011, May 12

Who Benefits From U.S. Aid to Pakistan? Carnegie Endowment for Peace, September 21, 2011
S. Akbar Zaidi,
Argues for a shift from military to other forms of aid - excellent background information.

Should the United States cut off aid to Pakistan?, The Heritage Foundation, Lisa Curtis, 2011, August 5

Our Money in Pakistan, Foreign Policy Magazine, 2010, Mar, 17
Alternative ideas

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Rules For Better Affirmatives in Debate

Gleaning Advice from Ballots
I am of the opinion, that often, debaters lose debates because they fail to provide sufficient offense in the course of the round.  I suppose there are many reasons for this to occur but in most cases, the debater(s) may feel their case has been compromised or hurt by certain arguments of the opposition and so the reaction is to assume a defensive position.  I recently was reviewing some judge's commentary on ballots from a policy debate round in which one of my novice teams, running the affirmative, was hit with an array of arguments from a much more experienced and highly ranked Neg team.  Needless to say, my team lost, soundly.  Fortunately, in this round, the judge panel consisted of seasoned judges, including one well-respected, ex-policy debater and coach.  He provided very helpful insight into how the round was framed and specifics into how our team broke down (lots of info in a very brief but concisely written ballot!).  Those ballots provided very important clues which got me to thinking about how I can turn this into a lesson for other debaters.

Understanding Your Position
While the particular situation which led me to this essay occurred within a policy debate round, I think there are important lessons to be learned for all debaters regardless of category.  It begins with firmly establishing a mindset about what your position is in the round and once established, consider the role of the opposition.  When I suggest one should establish a mindset about their position, that does not necessarily mean one should think about the case or the affirmative position with respect to the resolution.  What I mean is, one should realize that as an affirmative debater, you are taking a position which, in most cases, is counter to the status quo.  In policy debate, without doubt, your advocacy will be counter to the status quo.  In Lincoln Douglas and Public Forum you will be taking a stand on a position which either runs counter to the status quo or at least firmly takes a stand on a topic which otherwise is unsettled in the status quo.  When a debater understands her position in relation to the status quo, it is possible to see that Neg has the job of essentially defending the status quo. Granted, in LD and PF its not always that clearly delineated since Neg's specific advocacy may be outside of the mainstream or equally as unsettled as Aff's.  In general, debate theory claims the burden of proof is on the Affirmative which clearly implies, Aff is taking a stand apart from the accepted norm.  In PF, the idea of burdens of proof is muddled and poorly defined by the NFL but I really think PF debaters can gain from this as well.

The Contra-Neg Mindset
Since Aff takes a stand against the mainstream we may say the general burden of the Neg is to defend the status quo.  In order to accomplish this task, they will present direct arguments in support of their own position, that is to say, they will make their case, and they will attempt to undermine your position by presenting direct and indirect attacks against specific portions of your case.  I think one could easily understand, therefore, after presenting your Affirmative case you will spend the rest of the debate, defending your case and attacking the Neg case. In policy debate, it is very easy to lose sight of the fact Neg has a case, because sometimes their position appears to be an array of attacks.  Perhaps you have encountered LD or PF rounds in which the opponent's "case" was structured as nothing more than an all out assault on your case.  This is where the mindset serves you because you must not lose sight of the fact, Neg does indeed have a case and that case is defend the status quo.

So by now, you are probably thinking, what in the world am I talking about?  The purpose of this post is to help you be a better Affirmative debater. In order to do that, one needs to understand how the Neg position works against the Aff. Let's dig deeper and hopefully the water will become less murky.

The Weakest Part of the Aff Case
I don't need to read your case to understand which is the weakest part.  I know because I understand your burden.  There is safety in numbers and the status quo.  This is the place where the judge came from when she walked into the room. And though the judge, by paradigm, empties herself of preconception, you must realize at some point you are going to say something that jolts the generally accepted way of thinking.  That is the Affirmative burden, to establish a claim which deviates from generally accepted norms.  It is the standard which creates clash and without it there is no debate.  The spark for clash arises when the policy debater says, "thus the plan" and for the LD or PF debater it is found in the words "I affirm" or "We agree" with the resolution but once you knock the room off center, everything you say afterward must work toward convincing the audience that place is the correct place to be, and remaining rooted in the middle or the status quo is the least desirable place to be. What enables the Affirmative to stand apart from the status quo is the framework upon which you build support. Borrowing from a construction metaphor, without a firm foundation and quality structure, the building may fail. Thus the decoration, color of the walls, choice of pretty details, etc provides a certain appeal, the good defensive team will attack the foundation and the structure because these are the weakest parts of the case. Period.

Rule #1 - Don't Worry if the Carpet Gets Dirty
You may be thinking, everyone knows the framework and support are the most important parts of the case.  Good.  But have you ever broken your case down and truly analyzed it?  Which parts of your case are essential framework and which parts are decoration?  I can tell you from experience, quite often when the carpet gets dirty many debaters will spend a great deal of time trying to clean it while the rest of the structure collapses around them. I do not want to diminish the place of decoration, as I already said, it makes a case appealing. But you, as the Affirmative must realize the most important part of the case is what lies underneath and this leads me to the next rule.

Rule #2 - Always Reinforce the Structure
This rule may seem obvious if the structure or foundations of your case are being attacked but what if it is not? You may be faced with two potential scenarios, either a Neg team which does not know how to attack your structure, or a Neg team so advanced you don't realize they are attacking your structure.  It doesn't matter since you should always reinforce your structure, speech after speech.  After all, it is the judge that is the key to winning so you must be aware there is a very good possibility the judge is still internally questioning your framework. One of the worst things you can do, is unbalance the judge with your initial claim and then set about defending and supporting non-consequential attacks against your case and then late in the rebuttals Neg says something which completely tilts the judge. It is analogous to the lucky random shot which just happens to penetrate the ammo magazine and sinks the ship.  There is a whole lot less chance of that happening if you reinforce throughout the round.

The Case With Purpose
Affirmative debaters must realize they are attempting to create a new norm or at least an acceptance for an idea that is counter to commonly accepted ideas of rightness, or justice or behavior or ideology or whatever.  Referring once again to our construction metaphor, I can lay a firm foundation and build a sound structure but I am missing something.  I need to know why I want to construct the building and I need to tell the judge why I want to build.  I could design an elegant and extremely stout draw-bridge, but if I want to build it in the desert, I better have a very good reason for doing so, otherwise it doesn't matter how great the design is.  Simply put, in the next rule.

Rule #3 - Always Explain Why it Matters
If the judge listens to your case delivered with eloquence and impeccable logic, but you fail to tell the judge why she should care, you risk losing the debate.  Never assume the judge knows what you know and will understand the importance of your position.  This is what is commonly known as case impacts and clearly lays out why your claims matter in the grand scheme of things.

Rule #4 - Know When to Attack and When to Defend
I save this part for last because it one of the more subjective parts of this post.  This also brings me back to the policy ballot I was reading. One of the strategies, intentional or not, of the Neg against my novice policy team was throw out an array of arguments and extend them just enough that the novices become focused on cleaning the carpets while Neg created several disadvantage scenarios that went mostly unanswered. In short, the novices were defending when they should have been attacking and as a result the Neg case remained mostly unchallenged and at some point, the Neg wisely dropped the parts of the case the novices become obsessed with.  It was brilliant.  Knowing when to attack and when to defend and what to attack and what to defend is critical to good debate. This wisdom comes from correctly discerning what is important to the judge as well as a good understanding of how debate arguments work.

One of the first keys is always understand the Neg is advocating a position. They are presenting a case.  What I like about policy debate, the Neg side generally orders their advocacy into on-case and off-case arguments.  The first being attacks against your case, the second being advocacy of their position.  In LD or PF the lines between on-case and off-case become blurred.  (This is not necessarily the fault of the debaters but may be inherent problems in how LD and PF debate is designed - but I digress.)  One of the first things Aff must do after listening to the Neg case is take a moment to figure our what is the purpose behind each of the Neg claims.  Was it attack or was it to construct a position in defense of the status quo?  For example, lets say part of the Neg case is aimed at explaining why some aspect of your case is undesirable or leads to bad results.  Should you defend your point or should you attack theirs? While the correct answer can be, "it depends" in general I think most of the time the correct thing to do is attack the claim rather than defend your own.  In most cases, when the Neg is presenting a scenario linked to some aspect of your case which will result in harms, disadvantages, or other kinds of undesirable ends, you must realize they are not as much attacking your case as they are building their own because every disadvantage for you is an advantage for them and advantages are elements which serve to reinforce an advocacy; in this situation, the negative advocacy. Anything which supports the Neg advocacy should be attacked.

On the other hand, when Neg makes a claim that directly refutes one of your claims, this is your signal to defend.  A direct refutation would be one which contradicts yours or otherwise tries to show your claim is erroneous, your evidence is flawed, your impacts are overstated or unlikely or your conclusions are illogical.

Conclusion But Not the End
Debate is what happens after the constructives are delivered and after the constructives is when most debates are lost.  Some of the keys, in my humble opinion, to winning rest in understanding what your burden is with respect to the status quo, properly discerning where the judge's mind is at all times, properly understanding what the Neg is trying to do and then rightly deciding when to attack and when to defend.  The most common mistakes I see in rounds:

  1. Failure to impact the claim. tell me why I should care.
  2. Failure to discern what is important. Stay focused on the big impacts and the main points of your claims. Don't waste much time with secondary, distracting issues. (Don't worry if the carpets get dirty.)
  3. Failure to address Neg claims.  Do not dismiss Neg claims.  If they seem irrelevant, explain why you think so.
  4. Failure to attack. I wish I had a dollar for every time I have seen a team assume a defensive position early in the debate and go down without mustering any meaningful attack against the Neg.  I've heard it, you've hear it, we've all heard it. The best defense is a strong offense. When you spend too much time defending it sends out a message..."I think I'm losing!".

Thank you, judge for a meaningful ballot.  It got me thinking about common Affirmative mistakes and prompted me to write this post.  I hope as a result it helps someone else.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Targeted Killing Debate - Ideas for AFF and NEG

For more about Lincoln Douglas Debate including topic analyses, strategies, and links to evidence *click here*

Just in case you are visiting this page for the first time, directly from the web and if you need to debate this topic in an NFL Lincoln-Douglas debate, I suggest beginning with the background information contained in the following links:

2012 Mar/Apr Topic Analysis
    Part 1 - The Legal Justification
    Part 2 - The Semantics, Scope and Impact
    Moral Framework of Targeted Killing - Part 1
    Moral Framework of Targeted Killing - Part 2

The principle definitions for this resolution will be complex and very critical to establish a proper framework for Aff and Neg advocacy. I would be surprised if there if is not a lot of clash surrounding how targeted killing is defined and I would suggest there needs to be clash over the definition.  As I discuss in the previous articles, semantics is all important and imparts a sense of value on the language selected to define the terminology.  You must consider the experience of the judge and her role in this debate.  Nearly everyone has been touched by political assassination, targeted killing or justifiable murder in some way and it shades one's perspective.  The definition of morally permissible should be familiar to the debater.  This is the second topic in a row where that language has been used and previously defined.  What is unique in this resolution is the idea of the state's moral culpability as opposed to individual.  Additionally, I would be surprised if any clash arose over the definition of foreign-policy tool, especially since that is the only way targeted killings are employed.  I have not provided any definition of those terms in my analysis.  I leave it to you, as a relatively simple dictionary definition should suffice.

Overview of the Burdens
There seems to be nothing complex or tricky about defining the Pro burden in this resolution.  They simply prove that targeted killing is morally permitted. If you debated the Domestic Violence resolution, you understand, at least on a certain level, what the AFF advocacy must be.  In my opinion, Neg has much better ground from which to establish a stand, than the Domestic Violence resolution.  In the previous resolution, the actors were human individuals, in this resolution, the actors are state's and individuals and involves not only the direct players but also the innocent bystanders.  Think how much different the Domestic Violence debate would have been if the attacker was wearing a bullet-proof jacket and the victim defended herself with a hand grenade and innocent people were killed in the melee. This is the nature of this debate.  In my opinion, it is the best of all the LD topics this year.

The AFF Case
The affirmative is charged with proving that targeted killing is a morally permissible foreign policy tool  AFF can take two possible paths right from the beginning. One, establish that a state is the actor or two, establish that a person acting as representative of the state, is the actor.  This presupposes, that states are amoral entities and assumes the resolution can not apply to amoral entities.  But such a tactic will be difficult because the objectives of the killing are not usually personal, but rather utilitarian.  The actor does not necessarily kill to prevent self harm but to prevent harm to many other innocent people or to bring about a quicker end to a conflict.  Moreover, holding that the principle actor, the one doing the killing, is an individual, raises the memory of recent and past war crimes trials in which individuals, believing they were acting in the best interests of their state, resorted to immoral and illegal acts.  If the AFF debate can avoid this kind of NEG attack, more power to you.  I would think a sound case can be made with established moral agency for the state and wrap the advocacy in a context of jus in bello morality.  All that remains, is to establish a justification for the possible death of the innocent.

Granted, this all sounds kind of perverse on a certain level.  AFF must establish a legal/moral framework which justifies what amounts to murder without due process in the constitutional sense and extend that justification to include the unintended destruction of innocent property and lives.  But this is exactly the kind of justifications which have long been established in centuries of international conflict.  Because of that, the AFF is not breaking new ground and trying to establish new interpretations of old principles.  My suggestion is let the philosophers and the military ethicists present your case.  Their arguments are well established even though controversial. 

In my opinion, the most important position AFF can take, is to establish that the moral principles which guide states different from the principles which guide individuals and NEG should not be allowed to equate them.

The Neg Case
As I consider the various possible positions the negative team can take, I am initially thinking negative will have a much easy time of it than they did during the domestic violence topic.  Depending on how the affirmative frames up their case, probably one of the first tacts will be to challenge the definitions.  We can say the Colt-45 was the "peacemaker", but in the hands of the wrong individual it is a murderous weapon.  Therefore present and defend a definition of targeted killing as a form of political assassination, and a form of killing without benefit of due process, a right the constitution extends even to foreigners.  Attack the idea of state morality, show how the tactics of targeted killing are enormously destructive to innocent lives.  In my opinion, and I claim this without having seen a single written case, a very good tactic will be establish a moral framework which supports the Negative advocacy and applies the same standards typically applied to evaluation of human conduct.  We have seen historically, that claims of immunity due to appeal to the high principles of state morality do not mean a thing in a war crimes trial.  Ultimately, each individual is responsible for his or her personal conduct in war and so any state which forces its citizens to behave immorally is illegitimate. Another interesting argument can be presented in the methodology of the so-called video game war tactics.  That is the use of remotely piloted or robotic craft controlled at great distance in which the victim is dehumanized by being a mere image on a monitor like a video game entity.

Good luck with this one, debaters.  I love it.

Moral Framework of Targeted Killing - part 2

For more about Lincoln Douglas Debate including topic analyses, strategies, and links to evidence *click here*

(for part 1, click here)

Source used in this Article
Assassination and Preventive Killing, Kasher, Asa. Yadlin, Amos. SAIS Review, Volume 25, Number 1, Winter-Spring 2005, pp. 41-57

The Proportionate Treatment of Enemy Subjects: A Reformulation of the Principle of Discrimination, BETSY PERABO, Journal of Military Ethics, Vol. 7, No. 2, 136 156, 2008

Blurring the Lines
Some moral theorists who comment on targeted killing, draw distinction between killing in peacetime and killing in wartime.  Such a distinction is necessary when one considers the justification for targeted killing is very much dependent upon the context in which it occurs as peacetime killings tend to be more preventative and wartime more retributive.  In either case, some common factors remain.  Tesón, in Targeted Killing in War and Peace (see citation in part 1) provides a comparative analysis.  In peacetime the TK must save many innocent lives and thus the reason for killing is just, the target must be morally cuplable and there can be no non-lethal alternatives. In a wartime setting, actions are judged by the standards of Just War Theory (jus in bello) and so we acknowledge that if the war is justifiable, the combantants have an inherent right to kill one another, as tragic and inhumane as that may seem to the innocent.  The justification for wartime TK, the requirement to save innocent lives is replaced by the reasonable belief the TK will increase the chance for victory. In wartime, the moral culpability of the target is not considered as the victim is a component of the overall war effort and so culpability is placed upon the government represented by the target. With respect to alternatives, the requirement remains the same since war is considered a last resort, non-lethal alternatives have been explored and have either failed or been considered imprudent.

Terrorism blurs the distinctions between peacetime and wartime justification for TK.  When confronting terrorists and considering the morality of TK, we are usually forced to recongnize the terrorist probably has no official state representation, may not identify himself as an enemy combatant, may be operating within the borders of a state which is not at war, and the terrorist target will not be functioning in a open and accessible way where apprehension or alternative measures can be employed.  So, nevertheless, the idea of no non-lethal options stands.  Moreover, we recognize the targeted killing of a terrorist avoids a potental for great harm, usually the loss of innocent lives and so the self-defense theme winds its way throughout the examination of TK.

Criteria for Justification
Typically when justifying killing in self-defense, one considers certain criteria as paramount.  The idea of imminence suggests the threat posed by the target is very near to fruition and so any delay increases the likelihood the innocent will suffer. The concept of no alternative suggests that any reasonable action other than killing, such as apprehension, denial of resources to the target, etc. are either impractical or impossible.  Despite the similarities with domestic violence, self-defense and the justification for deadly-force, we must not lose sight of the fact we are dealing with a state rather than an individual as the responsible agent and so we are attempting to establish a collective morality under which states may operate in order to preserve the sovereign rights of statehood and the necessity of the state to ensure its own survival as well as protect the natural rights of its citizens.  Diplomats do not kill people, armies do and the instrument of killing, other than execution through a judicial proceding, is war and a just war is conducted under certain criteria.  As I previously pointed out in a previous essay on this topic, the criteria for jus in bello requires humane weapons, discrimination of combatants, proportionality, fair treatment of prisoners, non-evil methods, and no reprisals. (see: The following entry in the Standford Encylopedia of Philosophy,  Terrorism, changes the game, and centuries-old jus in bello does not necessarily adequately encapsulate the moral framework of this kind of targeted killing.  So I refer to the analysis of Kasher and Yadlin, who establish as an a priori, the right of states of defend themselves.
Kasher & Yadlin, 2005:
The Principle of Self-Defense Duty
1. It is the prime duty of a democratic state to effectively defend its citizens against any danger posed to their lives and well-being by acts or activities of terror, both in the short run and in the long run.
2. In doing so, the state discharges its obligation to protect the human dignity of the citizen, both as person and as citizen. 
3. Moreover, being a democratic state, it must fulfill its obligation while properly respecting the human dignity of each person, as a person.

As I have noted above, states must act to preserve themselves and protect their citizens and the enforcement arm of states is its armies. Hence Kasher and Yadlin define the principle of Military Necessity:

The Principle of Military Necessity
Military acts and activities against terror are right only if they are carried out under the following conditions:
1. Purpose Condition: The act or activity is taken in fulfillment of the basic duty of the state to defend its citizens from terror acts and activities. 
2. Relative Effectiveness Condition: Any alternative act or activity (including refraining from any act or activity, respectively) would expose the lives or well-being of the citizens of the state, including its combatants, to greater danger.
3. Minimizing Collateral Damage Condition: The act or activity is carried out in a manner that strictly protects human life and dignity by minimizing all collateral damage to individuals not directly involved in acts or activities of terror. 
4. Proportionality Condition: The act or activity is carried out in a manner that takes into account the relationship between its contribution to the defense of citizens from dangers of terror and the collateral damage it causes. 
5. Fairness (or Universality) Condition: The act or activity is of universal applicability: its justification would justify carrying out parallel acts or parallel activities in all situations.

Finally, since Kasher and Yadler attempt to establish a universal framework for state morality when dealing with terrorism, they provide the following conditions, summarized in the Principle of Distinction:
1 There are different types of state duties toward individuals recognizing there are indivduals who are directly or indirectly affected by the state's action in differeing capacities. 
2 There are different kinds of involvement by those responsible for terror, including those who are immediately dangerous, those who provide support, those who do planning,etc. 
3 The state's actions should be prioritized in recognition of its duties toward the involved individuals so as to minimize injury to lives.
In meeting these conditions, according to Kasher and Yadler, state's actions are morally permissible in that they adhere to the generally accepted Doctrine of Double Effect while respecting the human dignity of the affected individuals.

Distinction and Proportionality
Finally, I would like to focus on certain aspects of the Perabo analysis (see citation above) as she narrows her examination to the jus in bello principles of distinction (discrimination of combatants) and proportionality. The Principle of Distinction requires the recognition that certain representatives of the enemy population are combatant and some are non-combatant and execution of just war must take steps to protect the non-combatants from the effects of war. In modern war, simple definitions of what consititues a non-combant are difficult to attain. Simply put, Perabo establishes three criteria for determining an individual's combatant status:
Perabo, 2008:
My reformulation of the PD is therefore: In wartime, enemy subjects should be identified and treated in accordance with three criteria: 
1. the actions they have taken and are taking, as this relates to the threat they pose (conduct); 
2. their status as combatant, civilian, or member of a class between the two; 
3. their guilt with respect to the initiation and prosecution of the war. 
The first criterion prompts the question: Is this individual currently fighting or presenting an active threat to others? This criterion recognizes that those who are not uniformed military personnel may perform hostile acts or display hostile intent to act in a way that is harmful to their enemy, and thus should be subject to attack.The second criterion asks: How has this individual been classified, or how might he or she be classified, by criteria other than conduct? First and foremost is the question of whether he or she is a combatant according to formal legal standards, and which legal standards apply. But this may also include other criteria whether the individual is armed, whether he or she is wearing a distinctive emblem or insignia indicating membership in a belligerent group of some kind, whether he or she is an adult or anything else the country chooses to use in determining categories.The third criterion indicates that a full portrait of the enemy subject must include an assessment of his or her moral guilt or innocence. In order to assess guilt, a country’s authorities will need to have some knowledge of the political situation for example, whether the society is democratic, whether civilians control the military, and whether military service is voluntary. This criterion is the most problematic, both because guilt is difficult to assess and because developing policies that factor in guilt is a complicated (and sometimes impossible) process.

Having established a suitable criteria for distinction, Perabo then delves deeply into how such discrimination of the players intertwines with the principle of portionality.  As she states in her introductory paragraphs:
This analysis suggests that the PD [Principle of Distinction] is deeply connected to the other primary jus in bello principle, the Principle of Proportionality (PP). In wartime, individuals should be subject to harm proportionately according to the extent to which they have taken actions or made threats; their status as soldier, civilian, or something in between; and the degree to which they are guilty for the initiation or prosecution of the war. That is, frequently the PD will collapse into the PP; though a few very vulnerable and powerless individuals will deserve complete immunity from all harm, many are appropriate targets of some harm, at least in theory.

In summary, I have attempted to present some analysis for a particular moral theory behind targeted killing.  Because I have blended several points of view and hacked together a general framework for a very complex topic, some aspects of my analysis may be muddled or confusing.  I understand what I am trying to present, I hope you do as well, but if you do not, check the sources and dig deep.  This is one of those topics which defies a single-level google search.

The moral framework presented establishes states have a right to defend themselves and under certain conditions, killing in self-defense is morally permissible.  In order to extend that permission to the state, we must define the state as a moral entity.  We recognize that principles of discrimination and proportionality are integral to the question of moral permissiveness.  Because of the nature of how, these killings are conducted, we provide a moral framework which respects the dignity of the innocent while acknowledging that the innocent may be injured in pursuit of the objective but the guilt for that injury rests upon the target.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Moral Framework of Targeted killing - Part 1

For more about Lincoln Douglas Debate including topic analyses, strategies, and links to evidence *click here*

Some Sources
As I begin to examine the moral framework of targeted killing I will first reveal my primary sources for this part of the analysis. I confess some of the citations are not complete mainly because I downloaded the source files one afternoon and did not take particular care about the links from which I accessed them.  All were found using an EBSCOhost server.

Targeted Killing in War and Peace: A Philosophical Analysis, Fernando R. Tesón, 2011

Targeted killing: a ‘dirty hands’ analysis, Stephen de Wijze, University of Manchester, UK, published in Contemporary Politics, Vol. 15, No. 3, September 2009, 305–320

State Morality in International Relations, Bruce Williams, published in The American Political Science Review, Vol. 17, No. 1 (Feb., 1923), pp. 17-33Published

The Definitions
I begin by quoting verbatim, the definitions illuminated in the Tesón, 2011 paper.  Tesón lays an excellent basis for our understanding of targeted killing, and does make what I consider an important limitation: "targeted killings conducted by a liberal democracy".  This is important, because we can cite examples of targeted killings carried out by non-democratic states, illegitimate governments, and non-aligned, quasi-governmental groups which are not recognized by the international community.  Including killings from these kinds of groups unnecessarily complicates our analysis since one may question whether such actions can ever be deemed legitimate or moral.

Tesón, 2011:
I define targeted killing as the extrajudicial intentional killing by the state of an identified person for a public purpose. This chapter will examine only those targeted killings conducted by a liberal democracy. The definition calls for some clarification. The word “extrajudicial” excludes from the definition all instances where someone is killed in execution of a lawful sentence (whether this is morally justified or not I will not address.) The word “intentional” means that the assassin directly intends to kill the victim. It excludes from the definition all killings that are incidental to combat in war or revolution (serious as those are). Thus, it excludes not only unforeseen deaths, but also foreseen yet unintended deaths.4 In a targeted killing the victim is precisely identified: the lethal action is directed at him. The requirement that the victim be identified is necessary to distinguish targeted killing from the anonymous intentional killing of enemy combatants in war. Killing an enemy soldier on the battlefield is not a targeted killing in our sense. Finally, I use the expression “public purpose” loosely, to exclude private purposes such as revenge or personal gain. A public purpose is still normatively neutral: it may or may not be morally justified.

The Moral Agency of the Actor
Another key consideration in the definition of targeted killing is identification of the actor. As seen in the Tesón definition in the preceding section, targeted killing is intentional killing by the state.  In other words, a government.  It is intuitive, that human agents of the government are the ones doing the actual killing, usually employing some form of killing machine designed for the purpose.  Nevertheless, we do not hold the human individuals culpable for targeted killing.  Perhaps this is a convenience to exonerate the perpetrator and absolve him of responsibility.  Certainly, any sense of guilt the agent may carry can be somewhat mediated by the knowledge he was carrying out the intentions of the state.  Nevertheless, such state shielding from guilt does little to help war criminals when they are brought to trial.  However, one could just as easily argue that we try humans because we can not try states.

Philosophically, the state can be considered an omnipotent, legal entity with respect to itself.

Williams, 1923:
The state is an institution which lends itself to a variety of interpretations. In some of these conceptions, it is wholly detached from considerations of morality; in others it is assumed to have definite and intimate moral relationships; though most commonly perhaps, in political thought at least, the nature and degree of the moral responsibility of the state is vague and undetermined. Especially is this true as to the manner in which its external obligations are to be discharged without impinging upon the essential interests of the state itself...the state is regarded as an abstract personality or entity possessing supreme legal competency within the sphere of its jurisdiction, and functioning within this sphere without legal accountability. The supreme legal will of the state is technically termed sovereignty, this itself being an abstract idea denoting legal supremacy and omnipotence, and, by its very nature, indivisible. With considerations of morality, the state thus viewed, is not concerned, and as an abstract conception it is not the subject of ethical rights and duties.

However, when formulating a moral philosophy of the state, Williams continues:
In its moral relationships, the state must be regarded as a collection of human individuals and not as an abstraction. Its internal organization may be regarded as representing the attitude of a group collectively organized toward its individual members, regulating their relations with one another and with the group as a whole. From this viewpoint, the conduct of the state, in its external relations, represents the attitude of one group of individuals in their collective dealings with another group of similar or related characteristics, and by its acts contributes to the standards which will govern these relations. As a human institution, com- posed of individuals, this collective body is subject to the same factors which influence and determine individual conduct...

Williams then frames a philosophy which essentially establishes the state itself an agent of the collective body of humans and thus of necessity, the collective morality is conferred upon it:
It is the essence of morality that to become operative, it must find lodgment in human conscience; as a motivating agency elsewhere it cannot with reason be conceived. Within the state, defined as a living social body, as a group of human individuals, morality may be sought. In such a society, in some degree of development, morality must, in fact, of necessity exist.

Justifying Targeted Killing as a Moral Act
Stephen de Wijze notes the definition of targeted killing as an extrajudicial act suggests it is somehow above or outside the law. He presents a commonly accepted definition which creates a framework by which one can justify targeted killing as a legitimate and moral act of self-defense:

de Wijze, 2009:
In short, TK can be defined as: a state-sanctioned policy, which is used only in extraordinary circumstances to eliminate an individual, or group of individuals,where the individuals targeted are an imminent threat with a proven record of actively planning and/or executing terrorist attacks against civilians, the individuals targeted intend (and have so professed) to continue acts of terrorism, and there is no realistic possibility of preventing such attacks by non-lethal methods and bringing the perpetrators before a proper court of law. This account of TK seeks to highlight the specific aims, circumstances and targets of this type of extrajudicial killing. Supporters of TK insist that by meeting these conditions the killing is morally (and legally) justifiable.

Embedded within de Wijze's definition is the identifiable basis of a moral self-defense claim, very similar to what we have seen in the previous Lincoln-Douglas debate topic on Domestic Violence.  The idea of imminent threat, active planning and executing violence by the target, and no alternative courses of action are possible,

(For part 2 - click here)

PF Assistance to Pakistan Topic Analysis - part 2

For more about Public Forum Debate including topic analysis, strategies and links to evidence, *click here*.

I have focused on aid to Pakistan, particularly foreign aid, but the resolution says assistance.  Are there other kinds of assistance which may fall outside of what would be termed normal foreign aid?  I suppose the clever researcher will find something but I am not inclined to dig that deeply for some obscure form of assistance.  If you know of any, leave a comment and I may investigate it if it seems significant.  Virtually all of the sources I have checked use the words aid and assistance interchangeably with respect to our dealings with Pakistan.

Why Now?
I guess for the sake of completeness the interested debater should understand, there are always calls to suspend or end aid to various countries in order to accomplish some kind of political objective.  So why this recent push?  Though our relationship with Pakistan has never been one of openness and trust, a serious rift began with the Raymond Davis affair in January of 2011.  (see:  This uneasiness extended to the raid on Osama Bin Ladin's compound in May of 2011.  After 10 years of working with Pakistan to find Bin Ladin, there was a very negative reactive to finding him, more or less, living peacefully in Pakistan. For some, this was outrageous.  The somewhat tenuous relationship with Pakistan worsened even more afterwards.  For an interesting perspective of the U.S. - Pakistan relationship prior to the 2011 raid on the Bin Ladin compound, read this State Department Report: Pakistan-U.S. Relations, Kronstadt, 2009 A short summary of the current situation can be found here, which is interesting because it presents a non-U.S. centric point of view : Pakistan-U.S. Relations Year End Review, Fatemi, 2012,

Finally, I would like to mention one more possible motivation to suspend assistance to Pakistan although, I don't think this is necessarily a major factor.  It is charged that corruption is wide-spread in Pakistan and that always makes people uneasy about forking over copious amounts of money to be handled by allegedly corrupt officials.  This somewhat, dated article from 2009 examines that issue: How America Is Funding Corruption in Pakistan, Ibrahim, 2009,

The PRO Burden
Looking at the wording of the resolution, we see the principle actor is the United States.  This may or may not be an issue, but it should be clear there is no call for the U.N., E.U. or even NATO or other International organizations to suspend assistance.  Therefore, if the CON tries to paint a picture of a collapsing Pakistan without U.S. assistance, PRO can point out that help is still available from other sources.  Nevertheless, I think PRO should still present a picture of a stable and secure Pakistan which will survive a suspension of U.S. assistance.  This will diminish any claims by the CON that Pakistan can be taken over by insurgents or radicals, and Pakistan's nuclear armament could fall into the wrong hands.  This, of course, presents a somewhat trickier course for PRO because the warrants advocating suspension can not be tied to inherent instability.  The resolution says suspend, which carries quite a different meaning than "end" or "abolish".  Suspend suggests a temporary halt until some conditions are met.  It also does not mean, that if a natural disaster strikes, we would not resume as least some forms of humanitarian aid.  Because the resolution explicitly says "all" assistance, it would be difficult to argue only specific kinds of aid should be suspended.  In general, I am bothered by the fact, the word "suspend" is used without any qualifier.  If we temporarily withhold assistance, what is the trigger or time limit for resuming it?  I mean, technically one could say, the U.S. should suspend all assistance for 24 hours and still meet the resolution.  We shall see how the evidence stacks up and how teams debate this resolution very soon.

The CON Burden
CON can take several approaches to the debate, in my opinion.  The most obvious is look to why we support Pakistan now, citing our national security interests and then advocate the necessity of maintaining this relationship at all costs.  Indeed there are significant warrants to justify an unwavering commitment in Pakistan despite, at times, a rocky relationship that does not always see eye to eye.  In fact, it may even be argued that more should be done to increase our assistance as a means to promote stability.  CON should argue that withdrawal of assistance can have a destabilizing effect. Recall, according to the U.S. State Department, the primary purpose of foreign aid is to promote our own national security.  Today, we support other countries (look to Saudi Arabia for example) that often clash with our objectives and yet we believe the importance of a continued assistance outweighs the ideological differences that exist.  Several, unusual but legitimate approaches to the CON case could center around modification of the PRO burden.  For example, perhaps CON can agree we should suspend military assistance until certain conditions are met but argue it would be foolish and disastrous to discontinue other forms of aid such as humanitarian aid, especially considering the widespread poverty  Such a tact is still in keeping with the CON advocacy by leveraging the "all" burden on the PRO case.

Monday, February 13, 2012

LD Targeted Killing Topic Analysis - Part 2

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Part 2 - Semantics, Scope and Impact

The Semantics of Targeted Killing
A "targeted killing" in the sense required by the resolution is a relatively new term for an old tactic, namely the act of targeting specific persons, assumed to be political enemies for elimination; assassination.  But assassination is a term which carries a meaning implying treachery and provokes a negative evaluation in people who hear the word.  The American Heritage Dictionary defines assassination as 1) To murder (a prominent person) by surprise attack, as for political reasons; and 2) To destroy or injure treacherously. So it conveys the sense the word is a murder of a prominent person carried out for a political objective. The association with the words murder, surprise attack and treachery is reflective of the term's negative value.  Of course it is after all, murder, and murder is banned in society.  To be sure, to murder means the same as to kill but murder is a kind of illegal killing considering that society does recognize that killing is sometimes necessary though regrettably so.  In common usage, assassination is an illegal murder carried out for a political purpose.  Given that society recognizes that some forms of murder are necessary, it follows that some kinds of murders done for a political purpose can be deemed necessary, albeit regrettable. Hence, the legal community has tried to convey the sense that "targeted killing" means a legal killing done for a political purpose; a legal assassination, if you will.  The terminology "targeted killing" drops the negative value expressed in the words murder and assassination.  Welcome to semantics 101.

The astute reader should consider, if a suicide bomber targets and kills a government official, and an Israeli fighter jet strafes and kills a Hammas activist, why is the former considered illegal and the latter legal?  Indeed, one could easily put forth the argument that both are equal in their horror, unexpectedness and end result. In fact, in my opinion, this is one of the questions the debate is likely to enjoin.  As I see it, it can be argued the legality or illegality of an act falls squarely on the one who makes the law and possesses the capability, let's say the power, to enforce it.  Therefore, it can be argued the latter is legal because those with the power to enforce the law say it is legal.  Thankfully, we are not asked to debate the legality of the act, rather its moral permissiveness.

The Scope of Targeted Killing
It is probably impossible to determine how extensive targeted killing has been since World War II.  While it may be possible to point to specific cases and claim this killing or that was a targeted killing, mainly in the world of espionage, most of these were done clandestinely and the details often kept from the public eye as elements of covert operations. The Senate Church Committee investigations revealed many plots to carry out political executions in the 1970s resulting in the eventual issuance of EO 12333 and the ban on assassination by agents of the United States government.  Prior to the September 11 terrorist attacks, the only country openly carrying out targeted killing was Israel.  Interestingly, these attacks against various Palestinian activists were widely condemned, even by the United States.  After the attacks of September 11, 2001, the U.S. initiated a policy of targeted killing against suspected Al-Qaeda leaders and began openly using a number of tactics to carry out the policy.  Today, the most widely used and publicised method of targeted killing is carried out by Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), also known as predator drones.  These remotely piloted vehicles can locate, target and destroy suspected enemies while being flown by an operator 100s of miles away.  Many of the units operating in the Afghan airspace are piloted from Saudi Arabia.

The Impact of Targeted Killing
There are several aspects to the impact of targeted killing that should be examined.  First, one should consider that the methods used often create collateral damage or unintentionally target the wrong individuals.  The collateral damage results in the loss of life and property of innocent people.  This is often justified on utilitarian principles with the claim it is better to risk such collateral damage rather than risk the kind of impacts the targeted individual could potentially unleash.  In other words, regrettable events such as the death of innocent people is necessary to prevent the greater impact of unchecked terrorism.  Anyone who has watched the news or paid attention to world events has seen the many reports of civilian casualties often occurring as the result of a targeted killing attempt.

A second impact that should be considered, is the overall effectiveness of the policy itself. In other words one should consider whether targeted killing has made the world a safer place or at least reduced the incidence of terrorism or succeeded in whatever is the stated political purpose of the policy.

Next, we will discuss the moral framework.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

PF Aid To Pakistan Topic Analysis - Part 1

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Background: Meaning, Purpose and Types of Aid

What is AID?
Before we can debate the PROs and CONs of suspending aid to Pakistan we need to understand, what is meant by aid. As a noun, aid is simply defined as help, support or relief; as a verb it is defined as to give help, support or relief and can also mean to assist financially. In the context of the resolution, suspend would mean, to stop or interrupt with the implication the interruption will be for a period of time, meaning, temporary.  So, if the U.S is to suspend aid, it would be suspending the process of rendering help, support of relief.  "Foreign aid" is defined as "the international transfer of capital, goods, or services from a country or international organization for the benefit of the recipient country or its population. Aid can be economic, military, or emergency humanitarian (e.g., aid given following natural disasters)." [Encyclopedia Britannica,]  This suggests there can be official government sponsored aid (for example military aid) and non-government aid (like assistance from the International Red Cross). Typically, however, when one thinks of foreign aid, they make the distinction that foreign aid is assistance provided by a government as opposed to a non-governmental organization (NGO).

Why This Resolution?
I think a lot of the rationale for suggesting aid to Pakistan should be suspended is based on the idea Pakistan has not been open and fully cooperative with us in our war efforts in Afghanistan.  In fact, some have made charges that Pakistan has actually hindered our efforts or provided direct material support to the forces opposed to U.S. efforts. It is believed therefore, that suspension of aid would be a punitive action intending to force their compliance to our wishes and needs in the region.  Withholding of aid is one of several kinds of economic sanctions that can be levied against another nation. The debater must consider, the fact that Pakistan obviously has something of value we desire.  With regard to our objectives in Afghanistan, they provide military facilities, intelligence, and training among other things. In the long term they potentially play a pivotal role as a stable, influential American ally in the region. This is most important considering the fact Pakistan has nuclear weapons and a stable, secure and pro-American Pakistan is in the best interests of the United States.

Current Situation
The United States has suspended and resumed various kinds of aid over the last ten years.  In January of this year a nearly $1 billion cut in military aid as part of the $662 billion military spending bill recently passed. As reported by the Times of India (
"This freeze includes the majority of the USD 1.1 billion in Pakistan Counterinsurgency Fund," the House Armed Services Committee had said in a statement early this week, after members of the House and the Senate reached an agreement on the bill.
The House vote came after the White House said that President Barack Obama will not veto the bill as it was satisfied with the changes made in it.
"As a result of these changes, we have concluded that the language does not challenge or constrain the President's ability to collect intelligence, incapacitate dangerous terrorists, and protect the American people, and the President's senior advisors will not recommend a veto," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.
"However, if in the process of implementing this law we determine that it will negatively impact our counter-terrorism professionals and undercut our commitment to the rule of law, we expect that the authors of these provisions will work quickly and tirelessly to correct these problems," Carney said.

The Purpose of Aid
According to a U.S. Congressional Research Service Report in 2009, "Since the start of modern U.S. foreign aid programs, the rationale for such assistance has been posited in terms of national security. From a beginning in rebuilding Europe after World War II under the Marshall Plan (1948-1951), U.S. aid programs reflected anti-communist Cold War tensions that continued through the 1980s. U.S. development assistance programs to newly independent states were viewed by policymakers as a way to prevent the incursion of Soviet influence in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Africa. Military and economic assistance programs were provided to allies offering U.S. base rights or other support in the anti-Soviet struggle." The report suggests that after the collapse of Communism in the Soviet Union, foreign aid objectives became less focused and dollar amounts dropped. The focus changed following the 9/11 Terrorist attacks:
"since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, policymakers frequently have cast foreign assistance as a tool in the global war on terrorism. This has comprised an emphasis on aid to partner states in the terrorism war, including the substantial reconstruction programs in Afghanistan and Iraq. As noted, global development is now accepted, along with defense and diplomacy, as a key element of U.S. national security." 
But there are other reasons: 
"Foreign assistance has long been defended as a way to either promote U.S. exports by creating new customers for U.S. products or by improving the global economic environment in which U.S. companies compete. At the same time, a strong current has existed that explained U.S. assistance as a moral imperative to help poverty-stricken countries and those trying to overcome disasters or conflict. Providing assistance for humanitarian reasons or in response to natural disasters has generally been the least contested purpose of aid by the American public and policymakers alike." 
In keeping with the theme of National Security, the report further states: "Aid objectives include promoting economic growth and reducing poverty, improving governance, addressing population growth, expanding access to basic education and health care, protecting the environment, promoting stability in conflictive regions, protecting human rights, curbing weapons proliferation, strengthening allies, and addressing drug production and trafficking. The expectation has been that, by meeting these objectives, the United States will achieve its national security goals as well as ensure a global economic environment for American products and demonstrate the humanitarian nature of the U.S. people. Some observers have returned to the view that poverty and lack of opportunity are the underlying causes of political instability and the rise of terrorist organizations, much as poverty was viewed as creating a breeding ground for communist insurgencies in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s."
Source -
Foreign Aid: An Introduction to U.S. Programs and Policy, Curt Tarnoff, Specialist in Foreign Affairs, Marian Leonardo Lawson, Analyst in Foreign Assistance, April 9, 2009

Types of Aid
The United States provides five principle types of aid.

  1. Bilateral Development Assistance - programs designed to promote economic and social stability in developing countries.
  2. Aid Supporting Political Security - this includes the funds targeting direct national security interests in the fight against terrorism.
  3. Humanitarian Assistance - the assistance which provides support of hunger abatement, shelter and refugee relief, especially following war, revolution and natural disaster.
  4. Multilateral Assistance - Aid which supports internationally sponsored relief efforts such as UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund).
  5. Military Assistance - aid in the form of military training and equipment.

What Does it Mean for the Resolution
Given the background information presented above and considering the implied intent of Public Forum debate, I would say this resolution is asking us to debate the Pro and Con of suspending foreign aid provided directly by the United States government and not the kinds of assistance which are delivered by private concerns, such as advocacy groups, churches, and the like. The United States government spends significant amounts of money in foreign aid with the underlying objective of promoting American hegemony throughout the world. The advocacy must establish whether the aid to Pakistan is legitimate or justified recalling the resolution does not specify a particular type of aid. It says ALL aid.

LD Targeted Killing Topic Analysis - Part 1

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The Legal Basis for the Resolution

The Caroline Incident
The idea of state self-defense certainly precedes the 9/11 terror attacks. One could claim it is as old as statehood, but an interesting case arose in 1837.  I encourage you to read the history of this incident. In summary, Canada was under British rule and a group of insurgents opposed to British rule, tried to capture Toronto and established a provisional government on Navy Island in Canada.  The insurgents were aided by certain U.S. citizens and the U.S. flagged vessel, Caroline made several supply trips to and from Navy Island. On December 29, 1837, the British attacked the Caroline resulting in the death or wounding of several Americans and the loss of the vessel.  While the United States agreed in the right of self-defense, it objected to the attack claiming that certain conditions must preclude an act of self-defense. Known as the "Caroline test" it provides that the need for pre-emptive self-defense must be "instant, overwhelming, and leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation" and in the end allowed that British force was justified because they "did nothing unreasonable or excessive; since the act, justified by the necessity of self–defense, must be limited by that necessity, and kept clearly within it."

Therefore, the Caroline incident establishes two principle requirements justifying pre-emptive self-defense:

  1. It must be necessary - because the threat is imminent and pursuing peaceful alternatives is pointless.
  2. It must be proportional - because it is not unreasonable nor excessive.

Executive Order 12333
In 1981, President Ronald Reagan, issued Executive Order 12333 which stated “No person employed or United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination.” [Fed. Reg. 59,941, 59,952 (Dec. 4, 1981)]. This order extended a previous ban put in place by Gerald Ford.  While, the EO did ban assassination as a tool to achieve foreign policy objectives, it failed to define "assassination".  As a result, government lawyers have always defined assassination as murder for political purposes.  This does not include accidental death and legal killing such as the use of deadly force by police officers and military personnel engaged in war. (Persons interested in learning more of the history behind EO 12333 should look at the U.S. Senate Church Committee Investigations in 1975 which revealed CIA plots to destabilize foreign governments and assassinate foreign leaders).  Like several nations before it (most notably Israel), in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks, the United States reaffirmed its right to defend itself.  While the United Nations essentially bans war, The United Nations Charter, Chapter VII Article 51 states: 
"Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security."
The article thus establishes the legal right of member states to defend themselves without any mention from where or by whom the threat emerges.  Therefore this provision is the justification for the present U.S. War on Terrorism and provides justification for other nations such as Israel to conduct pre-emptive attacks on Palestinian targets.  [It should be realized however, that because this article is so interpreted there is much dispute and contention over whether or not certain states are exceeding the intent of the provision and attacking individuals outside of the legal intention of the article.  We will leave this discussion for another debate as it is highly controversial and not necessary to discuss for the purposes of this LD resolution.]

U.S. Constitutional Law
The Fifth Amendment carries the "due process" clause which forbids anyone to be be deprived of life without due process of law. Under this provision, capital punishment is legal because it is imposed after a full judicial process has been completed. The Fourth Amendment further provides the right of individuals "to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures."  Therefore, if the state intends to apprehend an individual there must be a certain reasonableness to the action and other court rulings have established the right of the government agents to kill rather than apprehend if it is necessary to prevent physical harm to the agents.  What is not so clear, is how far these Constitutional rights extend beyond the borders of the United States and whether they cover non-citizens. In the case of Reid v Covert, the court suggested that government agents could not escape Constitutional limits since the Constitution travels with them. However, in the case of United States v Verdugo-Urquidez, the court ruled that aliens outside of the U.S. are not protected by the Fourth Amendment. Nevertheless, the case does extend Fifth Amendment rights of Due Process to all people regardless of their national affiliation.

The Law of War (Jus in Bello)
In some respects it seems the Law of War over-rules the Fifth Amendment restrictions on taking life with Due Process, or at least, the state of war whether declared or forced upon a nation by attack is itself the Due Process which confers the right to kill as long as the killing is not done "treacherously" (see the definition of assassination, Article 23b of the 1907 Hague Convention IV) and meets other somewhat ambiguous criteria for justification. These include the following principles:

  1. Distinction - establishes who are the combatants and who are not
  2. Proportionality - limits the extent of attacks so as to minimize collateral damage or harms to non-participants
  3. Necessity - provides for a military purpose and limits unnecessary destruction
  4. Fairness to Prisoners - captured enemy are to be considered non-threatening and so should not be mistreated
  5. No Evil Means - weapons or methods must not be considered inherently cruel or evil, such as mass rape, or uncontrolled killing and destruction.

For more on the legal basis of Targeted Killing see the following two papers for slightly variant points of view:

Targeted Killing and Assassination: The U.S. Legal Framework, Banks & Raven-Hansen, University of Richmond Law Review, Vol. 37:557, 2003

Targeted killing, not assassination: the legal case for the United States to kill terrorist leaders, Om M. Jahagirdar, University of Virginia School of Law, Charlottesville, VA, USA, Published in The Journal of Islamic Law and Culture, Vol 10, No. 2, July 2008, 231-248