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Are US drone strikes a war crime?

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Stop the dronesEarlier 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.

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.

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