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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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A sad day for the land of the free
By mike66 on 2/7/2013 5:21:08 PM , Rating: 1
What the American public and government are not understanding is that you have become the worlds biggest terroist, you have become this because it's the only way you can win this so called war you started by interfering with other countries in the middle east but goes all the way back to the Vietnam war. My democratic country would not sanction the murdering of it citizens internally or externally for any reasons, if that memo came to light in my country it would topple the government. It's no wonder that you all have guns over there, as your allie I implore you to give up your fearful and violent ways and move to my country were you can live peacefully in freedom. My country is called Australia.

RE: A sad day for the land of the free
By Ammohunt on 2/7/13, Rating: 0
RE: A sad day for the land of the free
By mike66 on 2/7/2013 11:15:02 PM , Rating: 2
Strange you should say that as I knew a black marine who was stationed here on the ABC exchange service, he said to me that he was better treated here during his term than he was ever treated by his own people and country. He finished his service then became an Aussie citizen, he's still loving it. We don't call them unicorns, we call them brumbies, gumdropes are called jubes and I have done both at the same time.

RE: A sad day for the land of the free
By roykahn on 2/7/2013 7:38:07 PM , Rating: 2
Australia is hardly any better. Australian troops serve in America's dirty wars. Ever hear their politicians trying to explain why they have troops in Afghanistan? They are simply America's lap dog, obediently following its master's orders. Ever read much about Indonesia and the way countries like America, UK, Australia all supported General Suharto? Australia currently has federal police training and supporting armed thugs overseas. And what are US troops doing stationed up north near them Asian countries?

Don't pretend that elections once every few years makes a country democratic. There is little democracy when politicians are in billionaire's pockets, the public is (or will be) under electronic surveillance, and the mass media is just a mouthpiece for politicians and security forces. Ask the native Australian and American population if they think that their own people have been treated well over history. Hell, ask Julian Assange or David Hicks if they have been treated well by their government - and they're especially so :)

RE: A sad day for the land of the free
By mike66 on 2/7/2013 10:51:39 PM , Rating: 2
I understand we have had to make some bad compromises because we are so close to Asia, we are not perfect but if you look at the bigger picture we do alright. Just about any Asian country can win a war against us by shear number, the chinese army out numbers our whole adult population. We do send our Aussie federal police overseas who's mission is to serve and protect, not blow your head off like any military service ( Fiji is a very troubled nation divided between native people and Indian people). Hicks made a bad choice but at least he lives here in a normal house doing normal things in life, same with Jullian but it's the Swedes who want him, he may get sold down river by them, yes we would extradite him to Sweden but not to the USA. Billionares world wide try to influence government, here they have limited success, but apparently better success in the USA and Russia. The stolen generation is our big regret but we also did the same to single white mothers, social morals have changed and we do as much as possible for them now. Indonisia is a pain in the arse and our biggest threat, they could invade and sustain that invasion, we are trying to educate there military into not being such bastards but it will take a long time. Your complaints seem a little minor compared to what the USA does on a daily bases.

By roykahn on 2/8/2013 8:12:45 PM , Rating: 2
Your complaints seem a little minor compared to what the USA does on a daily bases.

I'll grant you that. However, that's not because of a different morality or humanity. Just look at the treatment of asylum seekers during the last decade. The main difference is the military and economic might of Australia and America. And don't forget the billionaires' influence that got the last Prime Minister booted from his job. I better leave it at that in case the world's richest woman squashes me to death.

“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith

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