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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 M'n'M on 2/7/2013 3:10:02 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I just don't think we're going to see drone attacks on anyone that isn't an obvious terrorist.I certainly hope not.

Imagine a slightly different scenario. There's an unpopular war going on. You protest it. You go to the other sides capitol city and are photo'ed sitting on one of their weapons. Are you now a combatant ? Have you joined the other side ? You're probably unpopular with whatever party is in power at the time. Should the President have sole authority to deem you worthy of killing ? And not by a drone, just by an assassin using whatever means he can, perhaps whereever he can ? Because IIRC the AG has said the "battlefield" is anyplace in the war on terror. What was once clear, being a soldier on the battlefield is no longer clear, at least in the legal terms. That should concern anyone.


RE: Due process is dead
By retrospooty on 2/7/2013 3:22:45 PM , Rating: 2
"Imagine a slightly different scenario. There's an unpopular war going on. You protest it. You go to the other sides capitol city and are photo'ed sitting on one of their weapons. Are you now a combatant ? Have you joined the other side ? You're probably unpopular with whatever party is in power at the time. Should the President have sole authority to deem you worthy of killing ?"

No, of course not, but that isn't what happened. If someone just spoke out against the govt or even was seen with enemies doesn't make them enemies. Al-Awlaki is a known terrorist that conspired and even helped the 9/11 hijeckers. He's not just a guy who was seen with the wrong people, he is a member of Al Qaeda and is an accomplice to the murder of thousands of innocent people.

"And not by a drone, just by an assassin using whatever means he can, perhaps wherever he can ?"

You say that as if this doesn't already go on and hasnt for the past (at least) 50 years. If the US govt. Wants you dead, you're basically going to die... The only thing new here, is drones that can get to you faster if your found.


RE: Due process is dead
By M'n'M on 2/7/2013 5:57:37 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
No, of course not, but that isn't what happened. If someone just spoke out against the govt or even was seen with enemies doesn't make them enemies. Al-Awlaki is a known terrorist that conspired and even helped the 9/11 hijeckers.

In this case, yes. I'm not worried about Al-Awlaki but the kind of power this grants to the Executive branch and who will misuse it the future. Consider what happened with civil asset forfeiture laws during the drug wars of the 80's. No-one was concerned when it was the dealers who lost their cars, homes, cash. Then it became the odd citizens who became victims. Not that long ago NYC was talking about seizing the cars of people accused of DUI and not returning them, independent of any trial results ... indeed no need for any trial. The accusation was enough.

My point is Govt is always looking for ways to expand it's powers, not do do evil, but to "get the bad guy". Far too often the rights of the ordinary guy get lost in that zeal. I see no need to have people assassinated in borderline cases due to that zeal and then have the deep thinking done then, that should be have been before now. We have divided Govt for a good reason.


RE: Due process is dead
By retrospooty on 2/8/2013 8:02:40 AM , Rating: 2
I agree, it is scary... But the truth is, if the US govt. decides they want you dead, you are dead. This isnt new its been going on at least 1/2 a century, the only new thing here is the tech. Where a human resource would have gone in an killed a target, there is now an explosive drone, which of course leaves obvious evidence... So in the end.

1. If the govt wants someone dead and they are a publicly acceptable target like Al-Awlaki - Drone strike.

2. If the govt wants someone dead and they are NOT a publicly acceptable target - The old methods...

See my point?


RE: Due process is dead
By Reclaimer77 on 2/8/13, Rating: 0
RE: Due process is dead
By retrospooty on 2/8/2013 9:49:42 AM , Rating: 1
I am not saying its right, or that I agree, but it's nothing new. The govt. does all sorts of secretive bastard shit and always has.

I don't think its wrong to discuss their power and our rights, of course not, and I don't think its right that the govt just does what it wants... I am just saying, we can talk all we want and debate all we want, the govt is still going to do what it does. And as far as this drone thing, its just window dressing, as the govt already does what it wants and will continue to do so.


RE: Due process is dead
By nrhpd527 on 2/11/2013 10:51:21 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
There's an unpopular war going on. You protest it. You go to the other sides capitol city and are photo'ed sitting on one of their weapons. Are you now a combatant ? Have you joined the other side ? You're probably unpopular with whatever party is in power at the time. Should the President have sole authority to deem you worthy of killing ?


Well, if we can invent a time machine and use it to do this to Jane Fonda in Hanoi, I'm ok with it that ONE time...


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