NBC News has obtained a confidential Justice Department memo that outlines the “legal” reasoning behind the decision of the President Barack Obama Administration that it can kill American citizens on a whim.
The white paper states that attacks will take place anywhere outside the United States and that an “informed, high-level” official of the U.S. government may determine that the targeted American has been “recently” involved in “activities” posing a threat of a violent attack. Chillingly, the paper says no clear evidence that the person poses an imminent threat against the United States, its citizens or interests is necessary to justify the targeted assassination. Nor does it define “recently” or “activities.”
For justification of taking the drone war anywhere, the paper cites Congressional authorization that gave President George W. Bush the basis to respond to the 9/11 attacks.
Congress abdicated its responsibility in 2001 when it gave Bush the open-ended authority to send U.S. troops anywhere in the world he wanted to conduct the “war on terror.” With the expansion of the use of drones the mission has begun to creep, as these missions do, and Obama has one-upped Bush. Now, in addition to foreigners, the Obama Administration has decided that it can kill any Americans it decides have demonstrated “terrorist” tendencies — even if they dined at the Pentagon as guests of the United States just months prior to being put on the kill list, as is the case with Anwar al-Awlaki.
As of now, government lawyers have not decided that Americans can be targeted for assassination on U.S. soil. They can, however, be “disappeared” thanks to the National Defense Authorization Act, which allows for the indefinite detention without habeas corpus of any American the government decides is a terrorist or terrorist sympathizer. And the list of who is a “terrorist” seems to grow by the day.
But as the “mission” and the very definition of “terrorist” continue to expand, it defies belief to think that now that Americans on foreign soil no longer have 5th Amendment protections, any semblance of 5th Amendment protections exist for any Americans anywhere.