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  (Source: Reuters)
Classified document defines under what circumstances a death strike is warranted

The Senate Intelligence Committee will this morning receive a classified document that provides a more formalized version of the policies contained in a white paper memo -- "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" -- which leaked to the press earlier this week.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) -- chairwoman of the committee -- cheered the release, commenting, "I am pleased that the president has agreed to provide the Intelligence Committee with access to the OLC (Office of Legal Counsel) opinion regarding the use of lethal force in counterterrorism operations.  It is critical for the committee's oversight function to fully understand the legal basis for all intelligence and counterterrorism operations."

The committee had already received the memo, but did not receive its more highly classified counterpart, which was responsible for actual policy decisions.

The Obama Administration looked to put a positive spin on the release, commenting, "Today, as part of the president's ongoing commitment to consult with Congress on national security matters, the president directed the Department of Justice to provide the congressional Intelligence committees access to classified Office of Legal Counsel advice related to the subject of the Department of Justice White Paper."

President Obama
President Obama says killing American terrorists without a warrant is the kind of "tough decision" you sometimes have to make. [Image Source: AFP/Getty Images]

The U.S. has to date killed over 28 al-Qaida terrorist leaders under the Bush and Obama administration using drone strikes.  Among those was U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in a Sept. 2011 drone strike in Yemen.

The controversy over al-Awlaki's death was that no warrant or indictment had been issued against him. And while he was intimately involved with al-Qaida, U.S. intelligence did not indicate he was directly involved with a current terror plot.  The question was whether Mr. al-Awlaki received his Constitutionally guaranteed right to due process.

Despite the controversy, President Obama is finding some surprising support.  House Intelligence Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) agreed with his political foe this time, commenting, "[al-Awlaki was] somebody who had said that he didn't want his U.S. citizenship anymore.  He had officially joined al Qaeda.  Al Qaeda had declared war on the United States."

"The legal basis of this goes back many, many years when U.S. citizens would go and fight for foreign nations that were engaging in combat with the United States. So what they were saying is, once you've made that choice, you no longer get the protections that you would. I mean, if you join the enemy overseas, you join the enemy overseas. And we're going to fight the enemy overseas."

On Jon Stewart's Daily Show, President Obama indirectly defended the policy in a guest appearance, stating:

There are times where there are bad folks somewhere on the other side of the world, and you've got to make a call and it's not optimal.  And sometimes you've got to make some tough calls. But you can do so in a way that's consistent with international law and with American law.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) calls death strikes on Americans without indictments a "chilling" precedent.  They and the President's critics fear that the Obama administration or future administrations could arbitrarily label political enemies "terrorists" and target them with unconstitutional death strikes.

Reaper drones
Reaper drones are currently being used over U.S. airspace. [Image Source: The Real Revo]
The issue may be rectified if Congress steps in and pushes a more concrete definition of what constitutes a "terrorist".

Source: CNN

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RE: Due process is dead
By RufusM on 2/7/2013 12:44:49 PM , Rating: 3
It's one thing if American citizens join an opposing force and it's unknown who is, or isn't, an American citizen. They just become part of the opposing force and there's no way to identify them. Rule of thumb: If you engage the US military (or US police, etc.) in active combat, prepare to be killed.

If it's known that a group of American citizens is doing something illegal (on or off US soil), and a preemptive drone strike is made by the US military without any attempt to capture them, that is a huge problem.

If the strike was made by the host country in accordance with their laws, then the US citizens killed are SOL. Rule of thumb: When on foreign soil, you are subject to their laws.

RE: Due process is dead
By Reclaimer77 on 2/7/13, Rating: 0
RE: Due process is dead
By othercents on 2/7/2013 1:02:58 PM , Rating: 2
a preemptive drone strike is made by the US military without any attempt to capture them

Is that speculation, or do you know attempts were not made to capture? Keep in mind at the time Yemen government wouldn't have allowed American troops into their country.


RE: Due process is dead
By RufusM on 2/7/2013 1:08:46 PM , Rating: 1
I have no idea of their capture was attempted, but I'm assuming that a drone strike is not an attempt to capture.

It could be that during an attempt to capture them, the US was met with resistance where they needed a drone strike to protect US military lives. If that was the case, then the US citizens put the US military in imminent danger so they are killed, not captured.

I'm not 100% sure of the protocol for using drones. I thought they weren't used as close air support but rather for more covert operations.

RE: Due process is dead
By MrBlastman on 2/7/2013 2:02:21 PM , Rating: 1
I'm glad we have the Second Amendment.

Any fool that believes an assault weapons ban is a good thing does not deserve to be a citizen nor understand why the second amendment exists.

They are particularly foolish because they somehow think the Government is capable, trustworthy and working for them, the people instead of special interests. Yet, people like this exist--everywhere.

So easily it seems they forget Waco, Ruby Ridge or other nasty incidents on our soil.

RE: Due process is dead
By Ammohunt on 2/7/2013 2:30:32 PM , Rating: 3
For those that have netflix and don't remember or have forgotten what happened in Waco search for Waco: The Rules of Engagement its the best non kooky documentary made on the topic if you don't feel sick after watching this...

RE: Due process is dead
By Simple_Man on 2/10/2013 7:20:50 PM , Rating: 2
the best non kooky documentary

kooky = avoidance of the c word or the slippage of the name Oliver Stone :-o

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