Naureen Shah


Naureen Shah, Associate Director of the Counterterrorism and Human Rights Project at Columbia Law School, discusses her article “Drone attacks and the Brennan doctrine;” US counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan’s admission that civilians are killed in drone strikes (after previously asserting “there hasn’t been a single collateral death because of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities that we’ve been able to develop”); the rhetorical means of avoiding civilian casualties (simply call them terrorists); remotely killing people halfway around the world, based on information from paid informants or culturally ignorant inferences; the legality of drone warfare, and whether it even matters; and rumors of a “rendition 2.0” torture outsourcing program under Obama.

MP3 here. (24:12)

Naureen Shah is Associate Director of the Counterterrorism and Human Rights Project and Lecturer-in-Law of the Human Rights Clinic at Columbia Law School.

Naureen develops research and advocacy on human rights and counterterrorism policy, including transfer of detainees, safeguards against torture, and lethal targeting with drone technology. Since joining the Human Rights Institute in 2009, she has researched and written on emergent transnational counterterrorism practices, including diplomatic assurances, Afghan detention practices, repatriations from the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo, deportation of terrorism suspects, and targeted killings.

Naureen also conducts network building work among leading litigators, advocates, activists and scholars in the counterterrorism and human rights field, to promote collaborations and generating of innovative advocacy and research.Prior to joining Columbia, Naureen was a Leonard H. Sandler Fellow at Human Rights Watch, based in London. She is the author of the August 2009 report “Broken System: Dysfunction, Abuse, and Impunity in the Indian Police.” Prior to Human Rights Watch, Naureen worked at the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on refugee appeals cases.

Naureen holds a B.S. from Northwestern University in Journalism and Gender Studies, cum laude. She holds a J.D. from Columbia Law School, where she was a James Kent Scholar and Harlan Fiske Stone scholar, and received the Lowenstein Fellowship awarded to outstanding graduates pursuing public interest law. She served as Articles Editor on the Columbia Human Rights Law Review.

8 thoughts on “Naureen Shah”

  1. We may not know what is going on due to official secrecy, but it is obvious to many by what we are told by our government that this comparatively tiny group of Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda are tearing their enemies to pieces. Even from the grave, Osama continues the fight, with his group appearing everywhere in the world, costing trillions of dollars for the US. The US government´s secrecy is causing a tremendous transfer of power to al Qaeda and is crediting al Qaeda as being, by far, the most powerful and unbeatable force in history – the war is predicted to go on for decades. The US Govt. is turning Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda into true martyrs by crediting them for everything going on in the world and creating fear of their up and coming attacks on American soil. Only Superman could do all of what they are being credited for with so few resources. We may not like al Qaeda, but according to official statements from the US government, it is by far the most powerful and effective force in the history of the world. That is the message being transmitted by the US government, whether they like it or not.

  2. Great interview, 3 comments :
    1) Scott refers to the intelligence in Afghanistan being poor quality, an occasion to recall the basic principle once elaborated by Arthur Silber — that is, THE INTELLIGENCE DOESN'T MATTER. Those forming policy will always try to shape or retroactively modify intelligence to conform to policy, and not the other way around. Always. Until the policy is no longer tenable.
    2) People here know this already, but it bears repeating : Shah speaks of the famous "collateral damage" authorized by the Laws of war — the reason such "measured" civilian death is permitted is that everyone knows that soldiers will first and foremost strive to protect themselves and their associates – this means that any perceivable threat, even if slight, will be eliminated. In reality, this translates into meaning that in order to protect themselves, many civilians will necessarily die at the hands of soldiers, an unavoidable result of ANY military invasion. The ONLY way to avoid this is to avoid the invasion altogether. The idea that there is a "correct and acceptable" manner in which to wage a war, mostly propagated by international law specialists, while laudable and well-meaning, is somewhat removed from reality and hopelessly naïve.
    3) Certain organizations, like HRW, are calling for the armed drone program to be brought under the authority of the DOD (Title 10) instead of the CIA (Title 50). Contrary to popular opinion, partly as a result of the notoriously complex and byzantine Pentagon bureaucracy, there is little proof anywhere that this will result in more transparency, accountability to the public and less secrecy.

    1. Couldn't agree more with you on your second point! The fact that these international 'laws' of war permit ANY civilian murder is outrageous! This must be protested.

  3. U$Kingz must sell their products globallahom. Sorry everyONE else must shutup-jail-torture-die fi sabealahom….long live dronn!ncc & $ignorance$.

  4. If al Qaeda ruled USA — Could life be any more cruel for us laboring men?

    As the rich ruling class make sure that no laboring man ever wins in divorce court, a matriarch ruled society is the laboring class, which destroys all peace in the home and causes 95% of laboring men to suffer divorce and to spend our life living alone.

    And as the U.S. Constitution, as it is applied, gives rights only to property and to those who own property, our minimum wage makes us a slave of all.

    Naureen Shah
    “International law does allow us to kill civilians in a war, a proportional amount of collateral damage.”

    As a lawyer she is throwing out the baby with the wash water, surely, by conceding that our brutal imperialism and military aggression against suspects who may have committed criminal violations of Federal laws are legal acts of war, all because our “War on Terrorism” is an actual and factual war.

    Pure fiction, for the legal definition of a war is one nation committing acts of aggression against another nation; one government striving to enrich itself upon the misery of another government; one country violating the territory or rights of another country.

    Truth is, Empire USA is a dictator nation enslaving the impoverished lower half of society at home and abroad, and as such a cancerous corruption it has the same rights as any common criminal which is no rights, for it has no right to national security or to use deadly force in self-defense. Surely, otherwise planet earth is a paradise for dictators and plundering nations by brutal imperialism is fair competition.

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