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Law Professor Marjorie Cohn Talks About Obama’s Expanded Use of Armed Drones

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Marjorie Cohn, San Diego law professor and past president of the National Lawyers Guild, talks about her new book, Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral and Geopolitical Issues.Cohn edited this new volume, which includes contributions from 13 other voices, including Richard Falk, Phyllis Bennis, Tom Hayden, Medea Benjamin, Jane Mayer and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

We open with a comparison of Bush and Obama on the use of drones–Obama’s “surge” in remote-controlled killing has left thousands dead, and less than 2% of the victims are credible terrorism targets.  The US relies on questionable intelligence from the ground, and uses cellphone metadata for some targeting.  Each Tuesday, a new kill list is made, and Medea Benjamin’s chapter details the continuous fear experienced by people in drone zones.

We note that the drone strikes are treated as secret, even though most aspects of the drone program are widely known; and that Obama pays no political price for the expansion of drone usage since 2009.

We get expert commentary from Prof. Cohn on the legal issues raised by the Justice Department’s draft white paper, which purports to show that the drone assassination of American Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen was lawful.  And we hear a comment from Prof. Falk that this targeted killing is an indictable offense by Obama, and Cohn outlines Falk’s argument that drones are more dangerous than nuclear weapons.

We discuss the new WikiLeaks release of a 2009 CIA memo that analyzed assassinations by the US and other countries, and concludes that they often create more problems than they appear to solve.

Near the close, we talk about Cohn’s article this week on the prisoner swap with Cuba that released 3 remaining members of the so-called “Cuban 5”.