Demand that the US Stop Unlawful Targeted Killings in Conflict-Free Zones

Target: Top CIA and Pentagon officials

Goal: End illegal targeted killings

The CIA and the Pentagon are carrying out a disturbing and illegal “targeted killing” program in which even noncombatants are deemed enemies of the state and killed without charge or trial, and the program is expanding rapidly. In response to the unlawful killings of three U.S. citizens in Yemen last year, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has initiated formal confrontation to those who ordered their death. The ACLU has sued top CIA and Pentagon decision-makers, demanding accountability for these unlawful killings of U.S. nationals. Though action has been taken, the two governing bodies have yet to make change and the program has continued. Sign this petition and tell intelligence agencies that the profiling and murdering of individuals without a fair trial is a presumptuous violation of civil rights.

These killings have occurred outside of the context of traditional warfare, against individuals not directly associated with U.S. allies or enemies. According to the ACLU, U.S. agencies are carrying out “signature strikes” based on patterns of behavior, and that the CIA presumes “all military-age males” in particular strike zones are targets unless intelligence proves them innocent — after they are dead. This is a glaring example of the United States’ over-militarized, anti-terrorist foreign policy agenda. While intelligence operations in prevention of future terrorist attacks are to be lauded, they ought not to extenuate probable cause. It is vital that these prominent defense agencies remember to ensure concrete and specific proof of a suspect’s imminent threat or participation in hostilities. Even in these circumstances, the government should not open fire without extreme precaution, risking the lives of innocent civilian bystanders. These standards have not been upheld. Ask CIA and Pentagon decision-makers to end unlawful targeted killings.


Dear CIA General Counsel Stephen Preston and DOD General Counsel Jeh Johnson,

I am writing to express concern about targeted killing strikes carried out by the CIA and the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command outside the context of armed conflict and against people who pose no imminent threat. It is your responsibility to put an end to illegal targeted killings no matter the victim’s national origin. These targeted killing may be lawful in very few circumstances, such as against a person who poses a concrete, specific, and imminent threat or, in the context of armed conflict, against a person who directly participates in hostilities. Even when targeted killings are justified, the government must take measures to protect civilian bystanders from harm. These laws of war have been ignored by your agencies.

It is not just to target and kill people who do not pose an imminent threat in countries with which and in which our nation is not at war. I am also deeply concerned about reports that your agencies are carrying out “signature strikes” based on patterns of behavior, and that the CIA presumes “all military-age males” in particular strike zones are targets unless intelligence proves them innocent, after they are dead.  As the top legal authorities in your agencies, you must advise decision makers to follow the law. Your time has come to do the right thing. I look to you to put an end to illegal targeted killings.


[Your Name Here]

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70 Signatures

  • Janet Delaney
  • Frédérique Pommarat
  • Mary and Roger Stephens
  • Alice Rim
  • James Thrailkill
  • Marianne Oelman
  • Hermann Kastner
  • Eric von Borstel
  • Mal Gaff
  • Terrie Phenicie
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