Join        Login             Stock Quote

Here's Why The U.S. Government Thinks It Can Kill You Overseas

 March 06, 2012 09:17 AM

This is bad. Very bad.

Spencer Ackerman:

Here's Why the Government Thinks It Can Kill You Overseas: The Obama administration calls it "targeted killing." Steven Seagal would call it getting marked for death. It's the practice of singling out an individual, linked to a terrorist group, for killing, and it's been played out hundreds of times in the 9/11 era — including, more recently, against U.S. citizens like al-Qaida's YouTube preacher, Anwar al-Awlaki. The Obama team has said next to nothing about how it works or what laws restrict it. Until Monday.

[Related -Has Warren Buffett Found The Best Investment In Oil?]

Attorney General Eric Holder explained the administration's reasoning for killing American citizens overseas…. Holder claimed that the government can kill "a U.S. citizen who is a senior operational leader of al-Qaida or associated forces" provided the government — unilaterally — determines that citizen poses "an imminent threat of violent attack"; he can't be captured; and "law of war principles," like the use of proportional force and the minimization of collateral damage, apply….

The debate over killing Awlaki… began long before a Hellfire missile fired from a drone killed him and fellow propagandist Samir Khan in September…. For months after Awlaki's killing, the government never disclosed any evidence supporting its decision that Awlaki posed an imminent danger to Americans…. Several legal scholars have wondered why the U.S. didn't have to provide Awlaki with due process of law before killing him, as stipulated under the Fifth Amendment. Holder contended that the U.S. actually did — even if no judge ever heard Awlaki's case.

[Related -The Return Of Crisis]

"The Constitution's guarantee of due process is ironclad, and it is essential — but, as a recent court decision makes clear," Holder argued, "it does not require judicial approval before the president may use force abroad against a senior operational leader of a foreign terrorist organization with which the United States is at war — even if that individual happens to be a U.S. citizen."

Holder left several aspects of his argument unexplained. He did not define the terms "senior operational leader" of al-Qaida, nor what it means to be an "affiliate" of the amorphous group. The attorney general only referred to the drones through the euphemism….

Holder did not explain how a missile strike represents due process, or what the standards for due process the government must meet when killing a U.S. citizen abroad. Holder did not explain why the government can only target U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism for death overseas and not domestically.

The decision to kill an American, Holder said, is "among the gravest that government leaders can face." Targeted killing is not assassination, he argued, because "assassinations are unlawful killings." Among the few external limitations on the government's war power that Holder mentioned were the approval of a local government where the strikes occur — which must have pleased reluctant, unsteady U.S. allies in Pakistan and Yemen — and the after-the-fact disclosure of the strikes to Congress.

Some members of Congress do not consider that a sufficient safeguard.

"The government should explain exactly how much evidence the president needs in order to decide that a particular American is part of a terrorist group," says Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who sits on the Senate's intelligence committee. "It is also unclear to me whether individual Americans must be given the opportunity to surrender before lethal force is used against them. And I'm particularly concerned that the geographic boundaries of this authority have not been clearly laid out. And based on what I've heard so far, I can't tell whether or not the Justice Department's legal arguments would allow the President to order intelligence agencies to kill an American inside the United States."

Mary Ellen O'Connell, the vice president of the American Society of International Law, found Holder's legal rationale flimsy…



Post Comment -- Login is required to post message
Alert for new comments:
Your email:
Your Website:

rss feed

Latest Stories

article imageHas Warren Buffett Found The Best Investment In Oil?

Shares of oil stocks plunged again as the price of West Texas Intermediate wiped out nearly half of its read on...

article imageDemand For Safe-Haven Bonds Surged Last Week

The crowd piled into investment-grade bonds last week as economic worries triggered an exodus out of risky read on...

article imageThoughts on MetLife and AIG

In some ways, this is a boring time in insurance investing.  A lot of companies seem cheap on a book and/or read on...

article imageA 2016 Recession Would Be Different

If the US or the Eurozone entered a recession this year, a few macroeconomic variables would look very read on...

Popular Articles

Daily Sector Scan
Partner Center

Related Articles:

Demand For Safe-Haven Bonds Surged Last Week
More Articles on: Politics

Fundamental data is provided by Zacks Investment Research, and Commentary, news and Press Releases provided by YellowBrix and Quotemedia.
All information provided "as is" for informational purposes only, not intended for trading purposes or advice. iStockAnalyst.com is not an investment adviser and does not provide, endorse or review any information or data contained herein.
The blog articles are opinions by respective blogger. By using this site you are agreeing to terms and conditions posted on respective bloggers' website.
The postings/comments on the site may or may not be from reliable sources. Neither iStockAnalyst nor any of its independent providers is liable for any informational errors, incompleteness, or delays, or for any actions taken in reliance on information contained herein. You are solely responsible for the investment decisions made by you and the consequences resulting therefrom. By accessing the iStockAnalyst.com site, you agree not to redistribute the information found therein.
The sector scan is based on 15-30 minutes delayed data. The Pattern scan is based on EOD data.