A drone court would have the same appeal, bringing in an independent arbiter. But it is likely there would be serious limitations to its jurisdiction. Most experts say judges do not have the alacrity or expertise to rule on a frantic call from the C.I.A. every time a terrorism suspect is in its sights. A better approach would be to have the court rule on whether the government had enough evidence against a suspect to place him on the kill list.
But if the court’s jurisdiction extended to every foreign terrorism suspect, even some proponents believe, it might infringe on the president’s constitutional role as commander in chief. Senator King, for instance, said he thought the court would pass constitutional muster only if it were limited to cases involving American citizens.
With such limits, however, a drone court would not address many of the most pressing concerns, including decisions on which foreign militants should be targeted; how to avoid civilian deaths; and how to provide more public information about strike rules and procedures.
“In terms of the politics and the optics, aren’t you in the same position that you are now?” said William C. Banks, a national security law expert at Syracuse University. “It’s still secret. The target wouldn’t be represented. It’s a mechanism that wouldn’t satisfy critics or advance the due process cause much.”