Drone Strikes on Americans

http://openchannel.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/02/04/16843014-exclusive-justice-department-memo-reveals-legal-case-for-drone-strikes-on-americans?lite


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, 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.
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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.

“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.

Read the entire 'white paper' on drone strikes on Americans

Instead, it says, an “informed, high-level” official of the U.S. government may determine that the targeted American has been “recently” involved in “activities” posing a threat of a violent attack and “there is no evidence suggesting that he has renounced or abandoned such activities.” The memo does not define “recently” or “activities.”

As in Holder’s speech, the confidential memo lays out a three-part test that would make targeted killings of American lawful: In addition to the suspect being an imminent threat, capture of the target must be “infeasible, and the strike must be conducted according to “law of war principles.” But the memo elaborates on some of these factors in ways that go beyond what the attorney general said publicly. For example, it states that U.S. officials may consider whether an attempted capture of a suspect would pose an “undue risk” to U.S. personnel involved in such an operation. If so, U.S. officials could determine that the capture operation of the targeted American would not be feasible, making it lawful for the U.S. government to order a killing instead, the memo concludes.
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The undated memo is entitled “Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a U.S. Citizen who is a Senior Operational Leader of Al Qa’ida or An Associated Force.” It was provided to members of the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary committees in June by administration officials on the condition that it be kept confidential and not discussed publicly.

Although not an official legal memo, the white paper was represented by administration officials as a policy document that closely mirrors the arguments of classified memos on targeted killings by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which provides authoritative legal advice to the president and all executive branch agencies. The administration has refused to turn over to Congress or release those memos publicly -- or even publicly confirm their existence. A source with access to the white paper, which is not classified, provided a copy to NBC News.

“This is a chilling document,” said Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the ACLU, which has sued unsuccessfully in court to obtain administration memos about the targeted killing of Americans. “Basically, it argues that the government has the right to carry out the extrajudicial killing of an American citizen. … It recognizes some limits on the authority it sets out, but the limits are elastic and vaguely defined, and it’s easy to see how they could be manipulated.”

In particular, Jaffer said, the memo “redefines the word imminence in a way that deprives the word of its ordinary meaning.”

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment on the white paper. The spokeswoman, Tracy Schmaler, instead pointed to public speeches by what she called a “parade” of administration officials, including Brennan, Holder, former State Department Legal Adviser Harold Koh and former Defense Department General Counsel Jeh Johnson that she said outlined the “legal framework” for such operations.

Pressure for turning over the Justice Department memos on targeted killings of Americans appears to be building on Capitol Hill amid signs that Brennan will be grilled on the subject at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday.

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  • deadeyedeadeye Posts: 8,162
    On Monday, a bipartisan group of 11 senators -- led by Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon — wrote a letter to President Barack Obama asking him to release all Justice Department memos on the subject. While accepting that “there will clearly be circumstances in which the president has the authority to use lethal force” against Americans who take up arms against the country, it said, “It is vitally important ... for Congress and the American public to have a full understanding of how the executive branch interprets the limits and boundaries of this authority.”
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    Anticipating domestic boom, colleges rev up drone piloting programs

    The completeness of the administration’s public accounts of its legal arguments was also sharply criticized last month by U.S. Judge Colleen McMahon in response to a lawsuit brought by the New York Times and the ACLU seeking access to the Justice Department memos on drone strikes targeting Americans under the Freedom of Information Act. McMahon, describing herself as being caught in a “veritable Catch-22,” said she was unable to order the release of the documents given “the thicket of laws and precedents that effectively allow the executive branch of our government to proclaim as perfectly lawful certain actions that seem on their face incompatible with our Constitution and laws while keeping the reasons for the conclusion a secret.”

    In her ruling, McMahon noted that administration officials “had engaged in public discussion of the legality of targeted killing, even of citizens.” But, she wrote, they have done so “in cryptic and imprecise ways, generally without citing … any statute or court decision that justifies its conclusions.”

    In one passage in Holder’s speech at Northwestern in March, he alluded – without spelling out—that there might be circumstances where the president might order attacks against American citizens without specific knowledge of when or where an attack against the U.S. might take place.

    “The Constitution does not require the president to delay action until some theoretical end-stage of planning, when the precise time, place and manner of an attack become clear,” he said.

    But his speech did not contain the additional language in the white paper suggesting that no active intelligence about a specific attack is needed to justify a targeted strike. Similarly, Holder said in his speech that targeted killings of Americans can be justified if “capture is not feasible.” But he did not include language in the white paper saying that an operation might not be feasible “if it could not be physically effectuated during the relevant window of opportunity or if the relevant country (where the target is located) were to decline to consent to a capture operation.” The speech also made no reference to the risk that might be posed to U.S. forces seeking to capture a target, as was mentioned in the white paper.

    The white paper also includes a more extensive discussion of why targeted strikes against Americans does not violate constitutional protections afforded American citizens as well as a U.S. law that criminalizes the killing of U.S. nationals overseas.
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    It also discusses why such targeted killings would not be a war crime or violate a U.S. executive order banning assassinations.

    “A lawful killing in self-defense is not an assassination,” the white paper reads. “In the Department’s view, a lethal operation conducted against a U.S. citizen whose conduct poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States would be a legitimate act of national self-defense that would not violate the assassination ban. Similarly, the use of lethal force, consistent with the laws of war, against an individual who is a legitimate military target would be lawful and would not violate the assassination ban.”
  • Finally they release the reasoning, I don't have a fancy Ivy League law degree but this seems like bullshit, a court order should be sought before killing an American as a "terrorist" in a country where arresting the "terrorist" is not feasible, this is where republicans and democrats in congress can curtail the Presidents powers, shits all fucked up now -Puffs voice-
  • And btw correct me if I'm wrong but doesn't the gov need a court order if they want to eavesdrop on an Americans phone overseas? So what your phone has more rights than you, fuck outta here B.H.O.
  • deadeyedeadeye Posts: 8,162
    edited February 2013
    Not really surprised.

    I figured this shit was already covered under the Patriot Act anyway.

  • deadeyedeadeye Posts: 8,162
    And btw correct me if I'm wrong but doesn't the gov need a court order if they want to eavesdrop on an Americans phone overseas? So what your phone has more rights than you, fuck outta here B.H.O.

    Basically, under the Patriot Act, the government can do anything they want if they label you an enemy of the state.

    No constitutional protection at all.

  • Black_SamsonBlack_Samson Posts: 38,052
    Note to self: Avoid hanging out with or being mistaken for senior Al-Qaida leaders.

    Alright, I should be good now.

    too bad we all look the same under thermal imaging...
    deadeye wrote: »
    Looks like Jamel was right.
    this is only the beginning... wait till they start getting hacked...

  • The government been killing and poisoning Americans for ages
  • Note to self: Avoid hanging out with or being mistaken for senior Al-Qaida leaders.

    Alright, I should be good now.

    too bad we all look the same under thermal imaging...
    This is why I'll remember to avoid hanging out with them too.

    Like if I go to the store, and see a senior Al-Qaida leader, I will leave.

    That way when the drone blows up the store, I won't be there.

  • deadeye wrote: »
    And btw correct me if I'm wrong but doesn't the gov need a court order if they want to eavesdrop on an Americans phone overseas? So what your phone has more rights than you, fuck outta here B.H.O.

    Basically, under the Patriot Act, the government can do anything they want if they label you an enemy of the state.

    No constitutional protection at all.

    I'm pretty sure some of the wiretapping must be court approved. I know the national security letters to get info on business records, credit cards etc were struck down by the courts. Some of these judges got to grow some balls and ask for more probable cause on those wiretapping approvals, some one correct me if I'm wrong I'm not one of these posters who's gonna take offense to it
  • Come on now. If they really want you dead... It's a wrap.
    They don't need drones.
  • 700700 Posts: 8,009
    Come on now. If they really want you dead... It's a wrap.
    They don't need drones.

    i dont kno why everybody surprised

    they been killin mothafuckas

    they will just run in yo shit
  • VIBEVIBE Posts: 33,324
  • or “an associated force”

    Let's see here, INB4 "mysterious deaths" of people associated with professional sports match fixing

    Welp, bubonic plague numbers. No one left to ref European soccer matches
  • deadeye wrote: »
    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.

    really tho??? thats basically saying they'll go at anyone, anytime, for any reason. they dont even need an excuse anymore.
  • texas409texas409 Posts: 10,807
    Nuke Detroit
    Naw they need to get Florida first
  • I'll make sure I'm not in a warzone, near war criminals anytime soon. That's like saying you'd be mad if someone was shot...while in a gang neighborhood, dressed like a gang member, knowing damn well there is an APB out on these gang members for killing someone. Intelligence is something we can all achieve. Being a dumb fuck is hazardous to your health
  • Black_SamsonBlack_Samson Posts: 38,052
    the funny thing is that yall talk like they gon use bullets...

    what the fuck when was our last terror threat? so why are we still making new advances?
    especially when our enemies are so behind the times in terms of tech...

    so lets see now... not only do we have street lights that double as listening devices, now we have weaponized UAV's, DHS has over 50 billion rounds, local police walking around in camo's, the military has been hit with the Sponsor bug (never thought i'd see the day we'd be freely advertising the companies we wear/utilize uhhh can you say PMC's), some PD's even have tanks....

    nah, we aint headed in the wrong direction... at all... we good.

    the fuck these cops need camo's for?!?! WHATS MORE EFFECTIVE THAN BLACK!?!?!
  • GettinLoGettinLo Posts: 7,707
    The gov't has had body snatchers (CIA agents that make ppl disappear) and assassins for years that have been killing and detaining Americans for years. The Drone strikes are the high tech additions to these 'covert' actions. And yeah ever since the Patriot Act, it's been a wrap for whatever 'rights' you thought you had.
  • CainCain Posts: 23,968
    aone415 wrote: »
    The gov't has had body snatchers (CIA agents that make ppl disappear) and assassins for years that have been killing and detaining Americans for years. The Drone strikes are the high tech additions to these 'covert' actions. And yeah ever since the Patriot Act, it's been a wrap for whatever 'rights' you thought you had.

    People need to read that Act whenever possible. You have no more rights all internet traffic is monitored no matter if you're proxyed or not at any time you can be arrested without a thorough charge. Your property can be seized at any moment without notice.


    It crazy that this law was drew up in less than a week after 911 attacks and no major news outlet going at it.
  • No fucks given, not doing anything wrong to have this happen. I got a ts clearance to maintain.

    I Actually see this as a good things stop dumb fu coz from doing dumb things
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