NYU’s Professor Waldron investigates death squad and kill list controversy


Union hosted New York University Law Professor Jeremy Waldron this past Thursday, May 5, at the Everest Lounge in Hale House at 4:30 p.m.

Waldron was introduced by the Political Science and Philosophy departments. The professor’s introduction featured his numerous achievements, such as working at educational institutions like Columbia, Princeton, Berkeley and Oxford, where he teaches today.

As a fellow in the British Academy of Arts and Sciences and member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Waldron has written and lectured extensively on jurisprudence and constitutional and judicial theory. In addition, Professor Waldron is a recipient of the American Philosophy Society’s Phillips Prize for his work in jurisprudence, or the theory of law.

Professor Waldron started his discussion by first defining “kill lists” and “death squads.” Waldron defined kill lists as, “lists that are comprised by the intelligence agencies of the government, and include names of people who pose a threat to the safety of the nation and its people.”

He proceeded to mention how these lists entitled execution without jury or a judicial process.

Waldron subsequently defined kill squads as “the use of ground forces or drone technology in order to execute the deaths of those on the kill lists.” Waldron explained that this was a specifically controversial topic, as it is unknown how people enlisted into kill squads are are qualified to carry out missions in which they take lives without judicial process.

Waldron made comparisons between the kill lists that our government has today and those that were held by totalitarian regimes throughout history.

The main factor that made the kill lists of today similar to those in the past, Waldron asserts, is that both seem to eliminate possible political and physical threats to the nation.

Waldron also discussed the controversies that come with the notion of kill lists. His curiosity lies primarily in how people are added or removed from these kill lists, what the qualifications to add or remove individuals are, and what issues these qualifications produce.

Waldron additional concerns regarding kill lists include the use of drones, collateral damage, foreign sovereignty and the death of American citizens in such assaults.

Waldron disclosed that the discussion was not intending to call America a totalitarian regime, but to show the issues and controversies that kill lists bring to our nation and it’s politics.

Most prominent were Waldron’s ideas on how this would make America look to other nations.

As he stated earlier in his discussion, the idea of kill lists and death squads puts us close to a similar level of past government regimes.


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