It is official now, the Obama justice department has said they can kill Americans whenever they want with drone strikes as long as they meet a few simple conditions. If American citizens are believed to be “senior operational leaders” of al-Qaida or “an associated force” even if there is no evidence or intelligence they are engaged in an active plot to attack the United States of America they can still be blasted into oblivion via drone missiles. That means the Obama administration become judge, jury and executioner of American citizens abroad.
NBC News obtained a 16 page document detailing the legal reasoning behind this decision by the justice department regarding one of their most controversial policies stemming from the drone strike in Yemmen that killed al-Qaida members Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan. While these two terrorists probably needed to be taken out, this memo outlines and clarifies the policy for executing American citizens as long as they qualify as terrorists.
What is alarming about this development is that this is just a first step in circumventing Congress and the courts in allowing the Executive branch of government to take the law into its own hands. Times of war call for extraordinary measures most certainly, but now that an already abusive and Constitution ignoring Obama administration has granted itself these extra powers, we have to ask what is coming next?
Read more below from NBC News about this latest Obama power grabbing development:
A confidential Justice Department memo concludes that the U.S. government can order the killing of American citizens if they are believed to be “senior operational leaders” of al-Qaida or “an associated force” — even if there is no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack the U.S.
The 16-page memo, a copy of which was obtained by NBC News, provides new details about the legal reasoning behind one of the Obama administration’s most secretive and controversial polices: its dramatically increased use of drone strikes against al-Qaida suspects abroad, including those aimed at American citizens, such as the September 2011 strike in Yemen that killed alleged al-Qaida operatives Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan. Both were U.S. citizens who had never been indicted by the U.S. government nor charged with any crimes.
The secrecy surrounding such strikes is fast emerging as a central issue in this week’s hearing of White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, a key architect of the drone campaign, to be CIA director. Brennan was the first administration official to publicly acknowledge drone strikes in a speech last year, calling them “consistent with the inherent right of self-defense.” In a separate talk at the Northwestern University Law School in March, Attorney General Eric Holder specifically endorsed the constitutionality of targeted killings of Americans, saying they could be justified if government officials determine the target poses “an imminent threat of violent attack.”
But the confidential Justice Department “white paper” introduces a more expansive definition of self-defense or imminent attack than described by Brennan or Holder in their public speeches. It refers, for example, to what it calls a “broader concept of imminence” than actual intelligence about any ongoing plot against the U.S. homeland.
Michael Isikoff, national investigative correspondent for NBC News, talks with Rachel Maddow about a newly obtained, confidential Department of Justice white paper that hints at the details of a secret White House memo that explains the legal justifications for targeted drone strikes that kill Americans without trial in the name of national security.
“The condition that an operational leader present an ‘imminent’ threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future,” the memo states.