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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

White House Memo Justifies Drone Strikes On U.S. Citizens

A U.S. drone strike in Yemen in September 2011 killed alleged al-Qaida operatives Samir Khan (left) and Anwar al-Awlaki (right). Both were U.S. citizens who had not been charged with any crimes. (AP)

A U.S. drone strike in Yemen in September 2011 killed alleged al-Qaida operatives Samir Khan (left) and Anwar al-Awlaki (right). Both were U.S. citizens who had not been charged with any crimes. (AP)

A 16-page Justice Department memo leaked last night to NBC News says the U.S. can legally kill an American citizen overseas if the following three conditions are met: (1) The citizen is a “senior operational leader” of a terrorist organization like Al Qaeda, (2) the citizen poses an “imminent threat” to the U.S. and (3) the capture of the citizen is “infeasible.”

Civil rights groups say the memo expands previous White House definitions of “imminent threat” by stating that a U.S. citizen who is suspected of terrorism can be targeted even if that citizen cannot be linked to any specific attack or plot in progress.

The memo also asserts that the president’s decisions on targeting suspected U.S. terrorists abroad should not be subject to judicial review.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is calling it a “chilling document” which “summarizes in cold legal terms a stunning overreach of executive authority.”

The leak comes as John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s nominee for CIA director, is due to appear before the Senate for a confirmation hearing.

A bi-partisan group of Senators has been pressing the White House for more information on the legal justification for targeting of Americans overseas.

Guest:


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  • anon

    Dubious legal games are an ever-growing norm on the playing field between old laws and new technology. While I can understand some of the counter-terror tactics employed here, I’m a bit concerned about the legal landscape we may encounter when domestic police departments start utilizing drones. A bit off topic but worth considering in light of this news.

    • FED UP

      iT’S ILLEGAL UNLESS CONGRESS AND OUR SENATE APPROVES IT AND WHEN THEY DO, WHAT’S NEXT, WHAT ABOUT COLLATERAL DAMAGE , IT;S AS CRAZY AS OUR PRESIDENT

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      the mass police just applied to the FAA for permission to fly drones here

  • charles

    Who needs John Yoo and the Office of Legal Counsel memo when you can simply bypass anyone who can be named and simply write a white paper?

    Anyone who said Obama would be markedly different from George Bush when it comes to transparency obviously didn’t get the real memo:  Obama is simply Bush-lite.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003000884786 Navin R Johnson

       In some ways Bush was Obama-lite.

      • Jaime

        Really, killing someone is worse then capture and detention…lol

  • aknman49

    John Hockenberry made a classic quip about this self-serving memo on this morning’s “The Takeaway” by calling it the ultimate open-carry law.

    With that in mind, it’s kind of hard to argue against Tea Party-types who say they fear their government when you hear about a memo that declares the executive branch has given itself permission to conduct covert executions, no approval from Congress or the courts needed.

  • FED UP

    IS THE WORLDGOING CRAZY OR JUST AMERICA? ARE WE SO DESPARATE THAT WE CAN’T SEE WHERE THIS IS LEADING  MY BROTHER DIED FOR THIS COUNTRY, HE HAS TO BE SO ASHAMED OF WHERE IT IS HEADED, AND HAS GONE , SETTING US UP FOR ONE WORLD GOV , HE PREDICTED THIS TWEBTY YEARS AGO, AND ITS SLOWLY COMING TO PASS OBAMA HAS NO MORALS BUT HE DOES KNOW WHAT THESE COMMUNIST WHAT TO HEAR. a BUNCH OF PANSIES IS WHAT VOTES IN THIS ADMINISTRATION, OUT WITH THE OLD IN WITH THE NEW , THEY CAN’T WAIT FOR THE OLD GUARD TO DIE OFF.

  • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

    so what are the new rules for domestic killing of citizens?

  • X-Ray

    For once, I agree with the ACLU. Scary & overreach on the part of the Administration.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003000884786 Navin R Johnson

    You can rest assured the only person who will ever be prosecuted in relation to the drone assassination program is the person who leaked the memo.

    I feel sorry for that person if they are caught.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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