CIA Plan Escalates Debate Over Legality of Drone Attacks

The CIA's plan for a secret Persian Gulf base to launch drone attacks on suspected terrorists in Yemen has escalated the debate over just how far the United States can go with such attacks before violating accepted principles of international law.

"The whole use of drones in Pakistan and Yemen raises the question of whether the United States is really in a war with a loosely organized terrorist organization whose members seem to pop up in diverse locations," says Geoffrey Corn, a former military lawyer and World Politics Review contributor who teaches at South Texas College of Law.

"People like me," said Corn, "believe that the answer to this question is yes, and that because we're in an armed conflict with al-Qaida, once we identify an operative of this belligerent organization, it is lawful to attack that individual with deadly force as a measure of first resort."

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