US citizens droned
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A secretive memo from the Justice Department, provided to NBC News, provides new information about the legal reasoning behind one of the Obama administration's controversial policies. Now, John Brennan, Obama's nominee for CIA director, is expected to face tough questions about drone strikes on Thursday when he appears before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
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In an extraordinary admission, Attorney General Eric Holder has told Congress that U.S. drone strikes since 2009 have killed four Americans — three of whom were “not specifically targeted.” For all the effort that the Obama administration has gone to in asserting that its drones only kill the people that the administration intends to kill, Holder wrote in a letter today to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) that Samir Khan, 16-year old Abdulrahman Awlaki and Jude Kenan Mohammad were “not specifically targeted by the United States.”
Photo by The White House (via Flickr)
Obama lays out a framework and legal rationale for his counterterrorism policy He makes case that al Qaeda is weakened but that new dangers are out there U.S. now acknowledges four Americans killed in drone strikes overseas since 2009 The administration is considering a shift in drone operations from the CIA to the military
WASHINGTON -- White House counterterror chief John Brennan has seized the lead in guiding the debate on which terror leaders will be targeted for drone attacks or raids, establishing a new procedure to vet both military and CIA targets. The move concentrates power over the use of lethal U.S. force outside war zones at the White House. The process, which is about a month old, means Brennan's staff consults the Pentagon, the State Department and other agencies as to who should go on the list, making a previous military-run review process in place since 2009 less relevant, according to two current and three former U.S. officials aware of the evolution in how the government targets terrorists. In describing Brennan's arrangement to The Associated Press, the officials provided the first detailed description of the military's previous review process that set a schedule for killing or capturing terror leaders around the Arab world and beyond.
Last Friday, I wrote a post on how : US national security agencies increasingly use computerized analysis of collected data to designate a person as an enemy combatant. The US currently uses non-judicial Presidential "hit lists" to simplify the killing of people (including US citizens) designated as enemy combatants. The US is rapidly increasing its use of drones to kill enemy combatants nearly anywhere in the world 24x7x365. The scary part is that the combination of these trends is the path of least resistance to an automated totalitarianism. For those of you out of the loop on what is going on, it probably seemed to be a bit of a stretch.
Ron Wyden is entitled to know the rules that surround targeted killing and all the countries where America is killing people. But no one will tell him.
“These killings rely on vague legal standards, a closed executive process, and evidence never presented to the courts,” the suit alleges. The suit stems from two drone strikes that took place over a six-week stretch last fall. The first, in September, killed Awlaki as well as alleged al-Qaeda propagandist Samir Khan.
Image via YouTube screen grab. Amateur video posted on YouTube over the weekend seems to suggest that unmanned surveillance drones might be flying over Chicago's skies for the NATO summit this weekend. The video, filmed in north suburban Elgin, shows what looks like a drone similar to the MQ-1 Predator, which is used in combat operations across the globe, but also has been used for reconnaissance.
Return to Transcripts main page Interview with Dick and Liz Cheney; Interview With Michael Hayden, Jane Harman; Interview with Haley Barbour Aired October 2, 2011 - 09:00 ET CANDY CROWLEY, HOST: In the words of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, this has been a bad year for terrorists.
Site Intelligence, via European Pressphoto Agency Anwar al-Awlaki, a militant cleric who was an American citizen, was killed in Yemen. The memo, written last year, followed months of extensive interagency deliberations and offers a glimpse into the legal debate that led to one of the most significant decisions made by — to move ahead with the killing of an American citizen without a trial. The secret document provided the justification for acting despite an executive order banning assassinations, a federal law against murder, protections in the Bill of Rights and various strictures of the international laws of war, according to people familiar with the analysis. The memo, however, was narrowly drawn to the specifics of Mr.
The Washington Post reports that the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel wrote a classified legal opinion in support of the al-Aulaqi killing. Carrie Budoff Brown* at Politico reports that former U.S. Representative and intelligence committee member Jane Harman says that “the Justice Department should release that memo” because the “debate on the legal grounds for that strategy should be more in the open.” I agree that the administration should release a redacted version of the opinion, or should extract the legal analysis and place it in another document that can be released consistent with restrictions on classified information.
(updated below) It was first reported in January of last year that the Obama administration had compiled a hit list of American citizens whom the President had ordered assassinated without any due process, and one of those Americans was Anwar al-Awlaki. No effort was made to indict him for any crimes (despite a report last October that the Obama administration was “considering” indicting him). Despite substantial doubt among Yemen experts about whether he even had any operational role in Al Qaeda, no evidence (as opposed to unverified government accusations) was presented of his guilt. When Awlaki’s father sought a court order barring Obama from killing his son, the DOJ argued , among other things, that such decisions were “state secrets” and thus beyond the scrutiny of the courts.