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Old 02-04-2013, 08:36 PM  
BigRedChief BigRedChief is offline
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Justice Department memo reveals legal case for drone strikes on Americans

This is now public info as of tonight.

http://openchannel.nbcnews.com/_news...americans?lite

By Michael Isikoff
National Investigative Correspondent, NBC News


A confidential Justice Department memo concludes that the U.S. government can order the killing of American citizens if they are believed to be “senior operational leaders” of al-Qaida or “an associated force” -- even if there is no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack the U.S.


The 16-page memo, a copy of which was obtained by NBC News, provides new details about the legal reasoning behind one of the Obama administration’s most secretive and controversial polices: its dramatically increased use of drone strikes against al-Qaida suspects, including those aimed at American citizens, such as the September 2011 strike in Yemen that killed alleged al-Qaida operatives Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan. Both were U.S. citizens who had never been indicted by the U.S. government nor charged with any crimes.

The secrecy surrounding such strikes is fast emerging as a central issue in this week’s hearing of White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, a key architect of the drone campaign, to be CIA director. Brennan was the first administration official to publicly acknowledge drone strikes in a speech last year, calling them “consistent with the inherent right of self-defense.” In a separate talk at the Northwestern University Law School in March, Attorney General Eric Holder specifically endorsed the constitutionality of targeted killings of Americans, saying they could be justified if government officials determine the target poses “an imminent threat of violent attack"

But the confidential Justice Department “white paper” introduces a more expansive definition of self-defense or imminent attack than described by Brennan or Holder in their public speeches. It refers, for example, to what it calls a “broader concept of imminence” than actual intelligence about any ongoing plot against the U.S. homeland.

Michael Isikoff, national investigative correspondent for NBC News, talks with Rachel Maddow about a newly obtained, confidential Department of Justice white paper that hints at the details of a secret White House memo that explains the legal justifications for targeted drone strikes that kill Americans without trial in the name of national security.

“The condition that an operational leader present an ‘imminent’ threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future,” the memo states.

Read the entire 'white paper' on drone strikes on Americans

Instead, it says, 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 and “there is no evidence suggesting that he has renounced or abandoned such activities.” The memo does not define “recently” or “activities.”
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Old 02-07-2013, 09:22 AM   #106
lcarus lcarus is offline
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Originally Posted by J Diddy View Post
Why is it that the same people who denounce killing a terrorist abroad are the same people clutching to their guns for fear of terrorists coming to their homes?
When the terrorist is a US citizen and other innocent people are killed in the crossfire, yeah I have a problem with it. Not because he's a terrorist. Because they can say anything is terrorism and anyone is a terrorist without due process. I mean, yes, **** al-Alwaki, but I'm just seeing this as a slippery slope.
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Old 02-07-2013, 09:38 AM   #107
BigChiefTablet BigChiefTablet is offline
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Yep it is party politics at it's finest dipshit. I don't give 8 shits where a mother ****er is born, but if he's planning to attack the US he's no longer a citizen.

So take them apples and smoke them you insignificant peter puffer.
So if the government says YOU are planning to attack the US, even though they have no proof, and you didn't do it, you'd be ok with them killing you without a trial? Because that's exactly what this law enables.
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Old 02-07-2013, 09:51 AM   #108
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Originally Posted by lcarus View Post
When the terrorist is a US citizen and other innocent people are killed in the crossfire, yeah I have a problem with it. Not because he's a terrorist. Because they can say anything is terrorism and anyone is a terrorist without due process. I mean, yes, **** al-Alwaki, but I'm just seeing this as a slippery slope.
I don't really know if many innocent people end up in the crossfire since they are, by definition, hanging out near serious terrorist threats, but I agree with you about the slippery slope. As long as there aren't more well defined boundaries for this policy and better built-in safeguards, the slippery slope is a danger.
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Old 02-07-2013, 09:56 AM   #109
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http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/...before/272947/

As Neocons Defend Obama, Allies Doubt Him on Drones as Never Before
By Conor Friedersdorf
Feb 7 2013, 6:00 AM ET Comment

For once, the Obama Administration's drone policy is much in the news. Kill-list overseer John Brennan starts confirmation hearings today to determine whether he'll get to be the next CIA director. Everyone is abuzz about a confidential memo that describes some of the scenarios in which President Obama believes that his underlings are empowered to extrajudicially kill Americans. And it looks like the Senate Intelligence Committee will finally going to see the Office of Legal Counsel opinion that sets forth the legal justification invoked to kill Anwar al-Awlaki (though the Obama Administration intends to keep hiding the legal analysis from the public, as well as Congressional committees that oversee the Pentagon and the Department of Justice).

How is everyone reacting to the unprecedented attention being paid to drone strikes?

Some neoconservatives have suddenly begun defending the president. John Bolton, former ambassador to the UN, says the drone program "appears to be consistent with the policies of the Bush administration," in which he served. Max Boot of Commentary insists Obama's drone memo is a "careful, responsible document." I'd half expect John Yoo to start praising Obama if he weren't busy "turning away in disgust" at the McRib's disappearance from his local McDonald's.

Dick Cheney has yet to comment.

Meanwhile, Obama is taking more criticism than usual from normally friendly quarters. The Huffington Post, a sprawling landscape of content, has published criticism of the president on many occasions, but I don't know that I've ever seen its home page go after him like this:



It was U.S. District Court Judge Colleen McMahon who first compared Team Obama's legal positions to Alice in Wonderland. I'm glad the phrase has taken told. Here's what the Huffington Post's front page looked like in the wee hours of Thursday morning, having been updated to reflect the fact that Senator Ron Wyden and friends finally get to see the legal opinions:



It took until President George W. Bush's second term for the press to become sufficiently adversarial in the realm of foreign policy, where journalists parroted misinformation and implausible arguments for some years and too frequently gave officials the benefit of the doubt. I hope the Huffington Post's tough treatment is remembered as one of the moments when the press stopped trusting Obama too much.

The New York Times editorial board is demanding some good questions be asked in today's confirmation hearings:

Quote:
For years, Mr. Obama has stretched executive power to claim that the 2001 Congressional authorization to use military force against Al Qaeda gives him the unilateral authority to order people, including American citizens, killed away from any battlefield without judicial oversight or public accountability. He took a step in the right direction on Wednesday when he directed the Justice Department to give Congressional committees its classified legal advice on targeting Americans.

Officials say they only target belligerents covered by the 2001 legislation, but the public has no way of knowing under what criteria these targets are chosen. Nor does it know, absent publicly stated rules, how the 2001 law would be interpreted by future presidents. The confirmation hearing provides an opportunity for Mr. Brennan to explain his view on whether there is any check on presidential decision-making, especially when American citizens are targeted, and whether targeted killings are creating more militants than they are eliminating.
But the criticism of Obama's transgressions against the rule of law still aren't nearly as harsh as what the newspaper wrote in 2008, when it endorsed Obama and looked back at Bush:

Quote:
Under Mr. Bush ... the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the justice system and the separation of powers have come under relentless attack. Mr. Bush chose to exploit the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, the moment in which he looked like the president of a unified nation, to try to place himself above the law. Mr. Bush has arrogated the power to imprison men without charges and browbeat Congress into granting an unfettered authority to spy on Americans. He has created untold numbers of "black" programs, including secret prisons and outsourced torture. The president has issued hundreds, if not thousands, of secret orders. We fear it will take years of forensic research to discover how many basic rights have been violated.
Note that imprisonment without charges, the ability to spy on Americans without warrants, black sites, and secret orders all persist in the Obama era, along with something Bush never managed: the actual, extrajudicial killings of at least two American citizens, one of them just 16 years old. It's too bad that the Times editorial board still isn't able to muster as much outrage for Obama's transgressions as for Bush-era steps that were no more ruinous to the rule of law. But at least the trend seems to be toward greater realization of the need to rein in Obama.

As Human Rights First put it, "Only complete public disclosure of the legal justifications behind the U.S. targeted killing program can assure Americans that the United States is complying with the law and established rules. The United States targeted killing program is setting a precedent for the rest of the world. We have to get this right."

As yet, Obama has gotten it wrong.
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Old 02-07-2013, 09:59 AM   #110
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Originally Posted by cosmo20002 View Post
Congress authorized military force against Al Queda.
American goes overseas, joins AQ, also becomes operational leader.

And some think that he should be off limits? WTF? You right-wingers are going to have to twist yourself into pretzels to bitch about this.
my problem doesn't stem from the action, it stems from the wording. they've redefined the word imminent. the word itself means something is about to happen, and the government newspeak version now means something could happen... huge difference when talking about taking out our own citizens.
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Old 02-07-2013, 09:59 AM   #111
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Originally Posted by patteeu View Post
I don't really know if many innocent people end up in the crossfire since they are, by definition, hanging out near serious terrorist threats, but I agree with you about the slippery slope. As long as there aren't more well defined boundaries for this policy and better built-in safeguards, the slippery slope is a danger.
Yeah, and for me, I'm an equal hater of both parties, so I just don't like to get caught up in the partisan bullshit. I think the 2 party system is a brilliant device for the government, because it gets us all in-fighting instead of unifying as a whole when our government does us wrong.

Also I have no problem taking out terrorists or terror suspects, but it's just that I don't trust the people making these decisions and labeling these people.
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Old 02-07-2013, 11:25 AM   #112
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Originally Posted by lcarus View Post
Yeah, and for me, I'm an equal hater of both parties, so I just don't like to get caught up in the partisan bullshit. I think the 2 party system is a brilliant device for the government, because it gets us all in-fighting instead of unifying as a whole when our government does us wrong.

Also I have no problem taking out terrorists or terror suspects, but it's just that I don't trust the people making these decisions and labeling these people.
FWIW, this issue isn't a very good example of excessive partisan bullshit though. This issue, maybe more than any other, has people from both parties on the President's side and people from both parties in the opposition.
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Old 02-07-2013, 11:33 AM   #113
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So if the government says YOU are planning to attack the US, even though they have no proof, and you didn't do it, you'd be ok with them killing you without a trial? Because that's exactly what this law enables.
Did "YOU" leave the country and join a terrorist group against which Congress has approved military action and there is a ton of evidence that you were involved planning terrorist attacks? Because that's what we're talking about.
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Old 02-07-2013, 11:37 AM   #114
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Did "YOU" leave the country and join a terrorist group against which Congress has approved military action and there is a ton of evidence that you were involved planning terrorist attacks? Because that's what we're talking about.
No, that's what they DID. But the law is written so they could do exactly what I proposed in the fictional scenario that your quote responds to.
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Old 02-07-2013, 12:32 PM   #115
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Andrew Sullivan supports the strikes, but finds Obama's judge-jury-executioner approach abhorrent.

http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2013/...-barack-obama/

Where Have You Gone, Barack Obama?
Andrew Sullivan
Feb 7 2013 @ 1:47pm

This was going to be the most transparent administration in history. It was going to roll back executive over-reach and put warfare against terrorism within a constitutional framework that could defend the country against Jihadist mass murder without sacrificing our values. And yet on a critical issue – the killing of allegedly treasonous citizens who have joined forces with al Qaeda to kill and threaten Americans – we were first given a memo that isn’t actually the real memo which contains no meaningful due process at all.

Now, the administration has given the Congress the actual memo, which, one hopes, does less damage to the Constitution and the English language. But why can “we the people” not see the actual memo? That phrase came up a lot in his recent Inaugural address. Funny how in practice in this respect, Obama is showing such contempt for the concept. And the “memo” Mike Isikoff procured is so legally shoddy and its corruption of the English language so perverse it almost demands we all see the real thing. To use the word “imminent” to describe something that is in the indefinite unknowable future is like calling torture “enhanced interrogation.” To lean on the word “infeasible” without any serious definition of what feasible would be is surreal. Underneath its absurd language and twisted rationales, the memo comes perilously close to the equivalent of “Because I said so.” And the core message of the policy is: trust me.

No, Mr president. It is not our job to trust you; it is our duty to distrust you.

This isn’t personal. I don’t doubt that sincere reflection and careful decision-making went behind the decision to kill Anwar al-Awlaki. And I defended the action, and still would. But, with all due respect, that’s irrelevant.

The issue here could not be more profound in principle, or more basic to American democracy. It is about the government having the right to kill a citizen without any due process even in America. (Before I go any further, may I just rebut the phony comparison with the Bush policy of torture of terror suspects? Killing an enemy in wartime is permissible and legal under the laws of war. Torture is illegal and immoral in all circumstances under every law of war.) More to the point, it is utterly uncontroversial that the military can kill a US citizen abroad if he is waging a treasonous war against the United States (see: Ex parte Quirin [1942]). Killing an enemy is routine on a battlefield in wartime or, domestically, in a hostage situation. If a cop had had a chance to kill Adam Lanza in the middle of his rampage, not only could he have done so; he should have. And if an American traitor is embedded in an al Qaeda terror training camp and that camp is targeted, there’s no way to read him his Miranda rights separately before we engage the enemy. Treason, in other words, is not the government’s fault. It is the traitor’s. And make no mistake: Anwar al-Awlaki was a traitor.

And I do believe that in a global war against Jihadists, like Awlaki, who have made clear threats of death against other Americans, are in al Qaeda camps, and propagating enemy propaganda to encourage even more violence, the executive branch does need to kill our enemies. I believe, for example, that the US had every right to invade another country’s airspace and kill Osama bin Laden as swiftly as possible. He posed no “imminent threat”. But he was an integral, central part of a network actively planning such attacks. Moreover, capturing him was entirely feasible. But we killed him in cold blood in his own home. Were we wrong to do so? Of course not. If we are at war with al Qaeda, which wears no uniform and treats homes and sky-scrapers as the battlefield, and if US soldiers are in a compound/bunker at night full of unforeseen dangers, they have to retain a capacity to defend themselves – and the right to approve that is assigned, especially in urgent, emergency, narrow-window opportunities, to the executive branch.

But the equation obviously shifts when it comes to an American citizen fighting for the enemy and not in an emergency. And it shifts again when the battlefield remains defined as anywhere in the world, including the US, and when the window of opportunity is much, much wider because the war has been defined as permanent. This means that there is no time-limit on this power – say, the conclusion of hostilities with a treaty. And look: treasonous citizens can and have been executed (the Communist traitors, the Rosenbergs rightly were). But even suspected traitors are entitled to due process. And due process seems to have gone out the window in this case.

One way to improve this power would be to limit it legislatively, by the Congress passing a new version of the 2001 AUMF in 2001 to mean merely al Qaeda in Afghanistan and its neighbors. It may, in other words, be time to declare an end to formal hostilities when the last troops return home in 2014, and return to a more criminal-based campaign against terrorism with less blowback. I have long felt that a permanent state of war against an amorphous enemy – anyone who wants to call himself a member of al Qaeda – is incompatible with the survival of a democratic republic. At the very least – now that bin Laden and much of the operational leadership of al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan have been eliminated – the Congress could narrow the boundaries of this war-without-end.

But more vital, it seems to me, is the establishment of a genuine judicial check on the selection of terror suspect targets – a secret FISA-type court that has real power to veto, and real access to the intelligence being used. The awesome power to kill an American citizen cannot be entrusted to one person alone, with no constitutional check, and no legal transparency. If we are defining “imminent threat” as the existence of a terror cell that could at some point in the future attack Americans, then at the very least, there must be a check on how that definition is implemented, and push-back against the rationale for killing a US citizen without any due process of law.

Obama always promised to fight the war against al Qaeda with energy, vigor and relentlessness. In my view, his policies have been immensely more successful than his predecessor’s clumsy, crude and incompetent management of national security. But Obama also promised real change in the war on terror, especially with respect to Iraq, torture and the laws of warfare. He promised much more transparency. He promised to unravel the unlimited powers granted to the executive by the legal hacks who did Cheney’s criminal bidding.

If this Obama still resides in the White House, he must release the full memo to the full public, now. Just as DiFi should release the full Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on torture now. We have a right to know and see what our government is doing and has done with respect to core constitutional rights and the rule of law. Yes, we have to fight a war that was initiated by an enemy. But we have to fight that war as Americans, under our Constitution, with prudence and as much transparency as possible.

Come back, Mr Obama. The nation turns its lonely eyes to you.
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Old 02-07-2013, 01:09 PM   #116
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Old 02-07-2013, 04:26 PM   #117
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Two things:

1. If the government has evidence that an American citizen is plotting an attack and knows where they are to attack them with a drone, why not arrest him? If the evidence isn't strong enough for an arrest, how can you condone a killing?

2. If the government suspected McVeigh and Nichols of bombing the federal building in OKC, would it have been OK to take them out with so-so evidence instead of arresting them?
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Old 02-07-2013, 04:51 PM   #118
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Must. Turn. This. Back. To Bush.
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Old 02-07-2013, 05:19 PM   #119
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Originally Posted by donkhater View Post
Two things:

1. If the government has evidence that an American citizen is plotting an attack and knows where they are to attack them with a drone, why not arrest him? If the evidence isn't strong enough for an arrest, how can you condone a killing?

2. If the government suspected McVeigh and Nichols of bombing the federal building in OKC, would it have been OK to take them out with so-so evidence instead of arresting them?
We're talking about people in other countries. People who have joined the enemy. McVeigh plotting in Oklahoma isn't at issue.
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Old 02-07-2013, 05:51 PM   #120
patteeu patteeu is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donkhater View Post
Two things:

1. If the government has evidence that an American citizen is plotting an attack and knows where they are to attack them with a drone, why not arrest him? If the evidence isn't strong enough for an arrest, how can you condone a killing?

2. If the government suspected McVeigh and Nichols of bombing the federal building in OKC, would it have been OK to take them out with so-so evidence instead of arresting them?
Al-Awlaki was not reasonably available for arrest like McVeigh and Nichols were.
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