Video Duration 25 minutes 13 seconds
From: Inside Story America

Are US drone strikes a war crime?

A special unit is being set up to investigate the legality of US drone strikes but the White House appears unapologetic.

Earlier this year, Ben Emmerson, the United Nations special rapporteur on counter-terror operations, warned that the US may have committed war crimes with drone strikes that have killed civilians in Pakistan. On Thursday, he announced that a special investigations unit is being established to look into the legality of such strikes.

What we’re seeing is the entrenchment of a very, very dangerous practice … we are institutionalising a practice of paramilitary killing without due process in parts of the world where we are not at war.

– Hina Shamsi, the ACLU National Security Project director

But all evidence suggests that far from being concerned, the Obama administration is actually increasing the ferocity of what it calls a “targeted killing programme”.

The Washington Post has revealed that the US government has compiled a database called the ‘disposition matrix’ to “augment” the existing “kill lists”, which will focus on suspects beyond the reach of American drones.

And just 10 days from election day the Obama campaign is unapologetic about the programme.

So, why is the Obama administration’s assassination strategy being escalated, what are the implications of this and is it legal?

To discuss this on the first segment of Inside Story Americas presenter Shihab Rattansi is joined by Greg Miller, an intelligence reporter for the Washington Post who has been writing about the US assassination programme, and Hina Shamsi who is the director of the ACLU National Security Project.

Also, Canada’s National Hockey League (NHL) has announced that all games in November have been cancelled as an increasingly bitter dispute between players and owners over how to divide $3.3bn in annual revenues goes into its 41st day.

The move to wipe out a total of 326 regular season games came eight days after the NHL rejected three proposals made by the NHL Players Association. The players had, in turn, rejected an earlier six-year deal proposed by the NHL.

I don’t think players are being unreasonable … the fact that owners, in a year of record revenues, are trying to solve their financial crisis by putting their hands in the pockets of players – I think that’s the philosophical difference which is so difficult for players to swallow.

– Dave Zirin, from the Nation Magazine

Al Jazeera’s Daniel Lak says: “Of course nothing that happens at the pinnacle of the game – the NHL – stops Canadians from playing hockey. But three player lockouts in 20 years have taken their toll and fans are growing weary of the big money brinkmanship that often seems to dominate their favourite game.”

Will the faith of fans finally start to waver as billionaire owners argue about money with millionaire players? What will it take to get the hockey season started and why are labour disputes so common in North American sport?

To discuss this, Shihab Rattansi speaks to Dave Zirin from the Nation Magazine and Steve Whino who writes about hockey for the Washington Times.