A Moral Code for Counterterrorism:

My colleague Amos Guiora comments in today's Baltimore Sun on the Israeli High Court's recent decision allowing the use of targeted killings as a method of preemptive counterterrorism. Here is a taste:

The decision, the last in Mr. Barak's corpus of rulings on fighting terrorism, is the final piece in a puzzle of judicially mandated rules for how an army should conduct operational counterterrorism. Mr. Barak's Supreme Court decisions over the past 15 years reflect a realization that damage to democracy and human rights outweigh whatever operational advantages commanders can gain from judicial ambiguity. Operational success would be enhanced by a strict moral and legal code.

The ruling establishes a checklist of how the state is to proceed in these cases. Harming civilians who "take direct part in hostilities," as defined in the decision, "even if the result is death, is permitted, on the condition that there is no other means which harms them less, and on the condition that innocent civilians nearby are not harmed. Harm to the latter must be proportional. That proportionality is determined according to a values-based test, intended to balance between the military advantage and the civilian damage."

I don't always agree with Amos' conclusions, but his wealth of counter-terrorism experience is often the source of tremendous insight. It's one thing to opine about how states should cobat terrorists from the security of an academic office. It's quite another to base one's opinions on years of work in the field.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. A Moral Code for Counterterrorism:
  2. Israeli Court Allows "Targeted Killings":