A Podcast Called INTREPID

Discussing and debating Canadian national security law and politics

Ep 44 War of the Words

Stephanie and Craig welcome two terrific guests back to the show: Major-General (ret) Blaise Cathcart (Canada's former JAG) and Leah West (in her pre-law days, an ops officer with the Canadian Armed Forces). Today, we circle back to a topic we addressed in Ep 11: "targeted killing". Our return to this topic is sparked by Stewart Bell's reporting at Global on a 2015 Canadian government memo discussing the "the strategic issues associated with the targeting of enemy combatants who are also Canadian citizens in Op IMPACT, the CAF contribution to Coalition Operation INHERENT RESOLVE efforts against" ISIS. Stephanie and Craig begin with a typology of how the term "targeted killing" has been used in the literature and a description of the 2015 memo. They then bring in the guests to discuss the overall tactical targeting process for the CAF, its policy origins, and how targeting packages are determined and vetted. They focus on the concept of "armed conflict", and the applicable law of armed conflict (LOAC) (otherwise known as international humanitarian law or IHL). They address: the distinction between killing in an armed conflict and outside an armed conflict; the meaning of armed conflict and the thresholds for it and its geography, who you can kill in an armed conflict and whether there are constraints on that; how one distinguishes between a combatant (who can be targeted) and a non-combatant (who cannot); and the challenges of figuring out who is directly participating in hostilities in a hot conflict. They end with a discussion on the extent to which the Charter of Rights and Freedoms would apply in an armed conflict situation; and a brief discussion of intelligence sharing and targeting. This is our longest ever podcast, and violates our "no longer than 45-50 minutes" standard. But there is so much rich discussion in here with our terrific guests that we did not have the heart to cut. Hope you feel the same.