Description of Role:
The attorney general is the head of the Department of Justice and the chief lawyer of the U.S. government. The department represents the United States in legal matters, including by prosecuting violations of federal law. In National Security Council (NSC) meetings, the attorney general gives the president advice and opinions on the legal aspects of policies under consideration.
The attorney general’s goals are to
Issues for Consideration:
- What does U.S. and international law say about the practice of targeted killings, for example via drones? What do these laws say about other policy options, such as raids conducted in another country’s territory?
- What is the range of opinion among officials of international legal bodies and international law scholars about the U.S. drone program and other counterterrorism tools?
- To what degree should the United States be bound by international human rights laws and norms in its counterterrorism practices? What are the costs and benefits of adhering to such laws and norms?
- What are the legal issues surrounding a drone strike or raid resulting in the death of civilians?
- How do groups such as al-Qaeda fund themselves, and how have U.S. and international efforts to cut off their financing streams affected their capabilities?
- “Targeted Killings,” CFR.org Backgrounder, https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/targeted-killings.
- Executive Orders 11905 (issued by Gerald Ford), 12036 (Jimmy Carter), and 12333 (Ronald Reagan).
- “Report on the Legal and Policy Frameworks Guiding the United States’ Use of Military Force and Related National Security Operations,” The White House, https://www.hsdl.org/?abstract&did=798033.
- “The Post-9/11 Civil Liberties Debate,” Council on Foreign Relations, https://www.cfr.org/interview/post-911-civil-liberties-debate.
- “CIA Lawyer: How I Issued Drone 'Death Warrants',” Wired, https://www.wired.com/2011/02/behind-the-drones-lots-of-bureaucracy/.
- U.S. Department of the Treasury, Terrorism and Illicit Finance, https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/terrorism-and-illicit-finance.
- Reports to the Human Rights Council (HRC)/Commission on Human Rights (CHR), United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, https://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Executions/Pages/AnnualReports.aspxhttps:/www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Executions/Pages/AnnualReports.aspx.
- “UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy,” United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism, https://www.un.org/counterterrorism/ctitf/en/un-global-counter-terrorism-strategy.
- “Clarifying the Rules for Targeted Killing,” Rand Corporation, https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR1610.html.