A newly leaked Department of Justice (DOJ) 16-page memo says the government has the right to kill American citizens who are al-Qaida operatives and/or members of other terrorist organizations whether or not they're working on a specific plot against America. This white paper says the U.S. doesn't need clear evidence of a specific attack to strike, so, in other words, without due process. Moreover, keep in mind that this memo is not a legal document. It only lets us take a peek at the authority that the government is claiming, but the actual legal memos are still secret. The ACLU has litigated for those memos for two years, but the administration has refused to release them.
Early on in the memo, the document states the government will only target people who present an "imminent threat," however, Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the ACLU, said that it “redefines the word imminence in a way that deprives the word of its ordinary meaning.”
"... it’s a very significant document, and it’s a remarkable document, and it’s something that everybody really ought to read, in the same way that everybody ought to read the torture memos from the last administration. It sets out, or professes to set out, the power that the government has to carry out the targeted killing of American citizens who are located far away from any battlefield, even when they have not been charged with a crime, even when they do not present any imminent threat in any ordinary meaning of that word. So it’s a pretty sweeping power that’s been set out. And the memo purports to provide a legal justification for that power and explain why the limits on that power can’t be enforced in any court.Prior to this leak, a group of 11 senators wrote a letter to President Barack Obama, asking him to release all Justice Department memos on the practice of targeting US citizens suspected of being terrorist leaders with lethal force, particularly drone airstrikes. The request comes as the administration seeks Senate approval for John Brennan, Obama's nomination for CIA chief.
If you look at the memo ... there’s no geographic line. "The Obama administration is making, in some ways, a greater claim of authority [than President Bush]. They’re arguing that the authority to kill American citizens has no geographic limit." --Jameel Jaffer
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), one of eleven senators who are demanding more details about the administration's drone program says the bottom line here is that the Obama administration is telling Congress and the American people to, "just trust us."
Is "just trust us" an appropriate standard for oversight? I don't think so. But even if you implicitly trust President Obama and his administration, this document, which potentially can be used to justify the assassination of U.S. citizens worldwide without a shred of due process or judicial oversight should still scare you to death. Why? Because you may not trust the next guy in office who now has justification to act accordingly.
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