Countering Terror with Terror: Kill Lists, Drone Programmes and ‘Targeted’ Killings

When President Trump took office in January 2017, he received more than just the keys to the White House. President Obama also handed him the keys to his go-to weapon in the War on Terror – a Kill List created during ‘Terror Tuesday’ meetings and a covert drone programme used to target and kill individuals far from battlefields and in countries where the US is not at war.

In his first year in office, President Trump massively expanded the programme, rolling back safeguards, tripling the number of strikes and dramatically increasing the number of civilian casualties. Worryingly, he’s done so not just with covert support from his allies, like President Obama, but also with increasing public support.   Allies, such as the UK, are now adopting their own Kill Lists, with the UK Defence Secretary declaring last month that the UK will ‘hunt down’ and kill its own citizens suspected of terrorism oversees in an effort to prevent their return.

As the first international NGO to expose the collateral damage of America’s use of armed drones for ‘targeted’ killings in late 2011, Reprieve has been at the forefront of challenging the use of Kill Lists and assassinations as a counterterrorism tool. Through on-the-ground investigations, novel legal challenges and advocacy, Reprieve has challenged not only the secrecy surrounding the programme, but also debunked the myth that these strikes are ‘surgical and precise.’

Jennifer Gibson heads Reprieve’s Assassination team and will talk about the flawed intelligence underlying these strikes, some of the human faces that are too often missing from the debate and the threat drones pose to long established legal frameworks. She will also touch upon the UK government’s own complicity in the US drone programme and recent comments that indicate the UK is following the US down the slippery slope of creating its own Kill List.

With a Juris Doctorate from Stanford Law School, Jennifer regularly writes and speaks about her work with those who have been harmed by abusive counterterrorism practices. She frequently appears in the media and has testified about her work before the British and European Parliaments, as well as the US Congress. In December 2015 she gave oral evidence to the Joint Committee on Human Rights inquiry into the British use of drones for targeted killing.

Contact: [email protected]  or on Twitter @jennifermgibson

18.45 on Monday 22nd January