DOJ lawyers claim dronekilling American citizens is "legitimate act," not assassination.

A follow up to the "So, the US Government assassinated two american citizens today." thread.

Obama DOJ lawyers claim dronekilling American citizens is "legitimate act," not assassination.

http://openchannel.nbcnews.com/_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 completeness of the administration’s public accounts of its legal arguments was also sharply criticized last month by U.S. Judge Colleen McMahon in response to a lawsuit brought by the New York Times and the ACLU seeking access to the Justice Department memos on drone strikes targeting Americans under the Freedom of Information Act. McMahon, describing herself as being caught in a “veritable Catch-22,” said she was unable to order the release of the documents given “the thicket of laws and precedents that effectively allow the executive branch of our government to proclaim as perfectly lawful certain actions that seem on their face incompatible with our Constitution and laws while keeping the reasons for the conclusion a secret.”

In her ruling, McMahon noted that administration officials “had engaged in public discussion of the legality of targeted killing, even of citizens.” But, she wrote, they have done so “in cryptic and imprecise ways, generally without citing … any statute or court decision that justifies its conclusions.”

In one passage in Holder’s speech at Northwestern in March, he alluded – without spelling out—that there might be circumstances where the president might order attacks against American citizens without specific knowledge of when or where an attack against the U.S. might take place.
“The Constitution does not require the president to delay action until some theoretical end-stage of planning, when the precise time, place and manner of an attack become clear,” he said.

The 16 page memo is linked in the article for your bedtime reading.

So they can kill terrorists outside of the US even if they are Americans by drone strike. Even if they have no proof. And they are pushing for more and more drones and military equipment for our police force. And the term "terrorist" keeps expanding in scope every day. Certain people are allowed to aid and assist terrorists, drug lords, and mafia if they have enough money. These certain people are also allowed to legally bribe those who make the rules. Don't forget the for profit prison system that seems to be getting bigger and bigger. And daily police abuse, that one is fun.

Still not a police state.

The US adapted Israel's MO (Method of Operations) of "targeted killing" and is using it as a multi-tool. In Israel those strikes are only used if there is an immediate danger from the suspect and apprehending him is too dangerous. As far as I know they have to get the high court approval (closed doors of course) to use "targeted killing" . The IDF always prefers catching people alive because it helps gather intelligence.

The US is a country that still has a widespread use of the death penalty. The murder rate is so high you can allow your government to make a few mistakes here and there. I don't know why you care so much about the civil liberties of people who can be convicted of treason.If they are El Quida members they are enemy combatants regardless of their citizenship.

The US isn't really threatened by it's neighbors so I think its justification of using deadly force is fairly weak. It's not like its citizens are in immediate threats except for the ones who hang out in unstable countries around the planet.

I don't know why you care so much about the civil liberties of people who can be convicted of treason.

Because, until they're convicted of treason, they are innocent.

Pointing a finger at someone does not make them guilty.

Civil liberties only matter when the government hates you and wants you dead. That's the only time you need them!

If you don't have civil liberties when the government doesn't like you, when it's smearing your reputation in the press because they've decided You Are Bad, then you don't have them at all.

Having them only when you are popular is utterly meaningless.

Related: The DOJ’s escalating criminalization of speech - "Muslims continue to be targeted for prosecution for expressing political views the government dislikes"

I'm comforted to know that it'll only be used in cases where there's an imminent (defined as, "at some point in the future") threat of attack by senior Al Qaeda leadership (which is anybody, because they don't have to prove it), and only after they've made an attempt to capture them (unless they think that might be hard). And it'll only be used on foreign soil (until it's not).

I'd feel so much better (by which I mean less nauseous) about this if they'd just give the target a trial at SOME point. Even if it's posthumous. If the evidence is strong enough to sentence a US citizen to death without trial, it shouldn't be too difficult to prove in a court of law.

DSGamer wrote:

Still not a police state.

You're damn right. Police try to take people alive.

Malor wrote:
I don't know why you care so much about the civil liberties of people who can be convicted of treason.

Because, until they're convicted of treason, they are innocent.

Pointing a finger at someone does not make them guilty.

Civil liberties only matter when the government hates you and wants you dead. That's the only time you need them!

If you don't have civil liberties when the government doesn't like you, when it's smearing your reputation in the press because they've decided You Are Bad, then you don't have them at all.

Having them only when you are popular is utterly meaningless.

I mostly concur with this.

Habeas Corpus is one of the most important rights of every US citizen. I am genuinely appalled that not only is our government willing to throw it aside and jump straight to assassination because "War on Terror ERMAGERD", but the citizenry is quite willing to go along with it.

I don't agree that this makes the US entirely a police state, but it's a very dangerous step along that path, and a precedent that is very likely going to come back and bite us in ways we can't yet predict.

We need to remember that any right or power claimed by a president will apply to all future presidents, because no one ever asks for less power. We have Obama for the next few years, but who knows how long until we get another Nixon.

LobsterMobster wrote:

We need to remember that any right or power claimed by a president will apply to all future presidents, because no one ever asks for less power. We have Obama for the next few years, but who knows how long until we get another Nixon.

That's what I always found so mind-boggling about Republicans defending the Bush administration. The complete lack of understanding that the next president got the same powers. If your local militia starts protesting gun laws? On the terror watchlist they go. Who knows what happens next.

Hellfire missiles labeled as 'coincidental natural gas explosions.'

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/feb/05/obama-kill-list-doj-memo

Glenn Greenwald wrote:

The reason this is so fitting is because, as I've detailed many times, it was these same early Bush/Cheney theories that made me want to begin writing about politics, all driven by my perception that the US government was becoming extremist and dangerous. During the early Bush years, the very idea that the US government asserted the power to imprison US citizens without charges and due process (or to eavesdrop on them) was so radical that, at the time, I could hardly believe they were being asserted out in the open.

Yet here we are almost a full decade later. And we have the current president asserting the power not merely to imprison or eavesdrop on US citizens without charges or trial, but to order them executed - and to do so in total secrecy, with no checks or oversight. If you believe the president has the power to order US citizens executed far from any battlefield with no charges or trial, then it's truly hard to conceive of any asserted power you would find objectionable.

Guess no one's going to accuse Obama of being soft on terrorism. Whatever that means these days.

Can they take back that Peace Prize yet?

LobsterMobster wrote:

We need to remember that any right or power claimed by a president will apply to all future presidents, because no one ever asks for less power. We have Obama for the next few years, but who knows how long until we get another Nixon.

But this is where tribal politics comes into play - such power is fine in our hands, because we will use it responsibly and wisely. But in their hands, it will be reckless and selfish! ... however, that's no reason not to put it in our hands for a short time, at least.

LobsterMobster wrote:

Guess no one's going to accuse Obama of being soft on terrorism. Whatever that means these days.

I may have just missed it, but I don't think that particular line of attack has been used much at all at this point. What is going on here is objectively wrong, and it surprises me that the GOP is not gleefully leaping on the chance to cram it down Obama's throat. So what if they'd have done or did do the same thing? No political party has ever let inconsistency stop them from making a line of attack. So in this case, the relative silence is honestly disturbing to me.

DSGamer wrote:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/feb/05/obama-kill-list-doj-memo

Glenn Greenwald wrote:

The reason this is so fitting is because, as I've detailed many times, it was these same early Bush/Cheney theories that made me want to begin writing about politics, all driven by my perception that the US government was becoming extremist and dangerous. During the early Bush years, the very idea that the US government asserted the power to imprison US citizens without charges and due process (or to eavesdrop on them) was so radical that, at the time, I could hardly believe they were being asserted out in the open.

Yet here we are almost a full decade later. And we have the current president asserting the power not merely to imprison or eavesdrop on US citizens without charges or trial, but to order them executed - and to do so in total secrecy, with no checks or oversight. If you believe the president has the power to order US citizens executed far from any battlefield with no charges or trial, then it's truly hard to conceive of any asserted power you would find objectionable.

That guy is either evil or an idiot. "far from any battlefield"? Really? Because you know: there are no battlefields unless America has declared it a battlefield. Other counties don't have "war zones" until America declares war I guess. How charmingly Orwellian.

This "world-is-a-battlefield" theory was once highly controversial among Democrats. John Kerry famously denounced it when running for president, arguing instead that the effort against terrorism is "primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation that requires cooperation around the world".

But this global-war theory is exactly what lies at heart of the Obama approach to Terrorism generally and this memo specifically. It is impossible to defend Obama's assassination powers without embracing it (which is why key Obama officials have consistently done so). That's because these assassinations are taking place in countries far from any war zone, such as Yemen and Somalia.

Yemen and Somalia are far from any war zone? Is this guy for real? Does he think our law enforcement operations work by means of magic, where pirates and rebels will all stop and say "oh, this is a law enforcement operation on behalf of America? Well okay, we usually shoot at people the government sends here but we'll make a special exemption this time."

He pretends that the world breaks down neatly into two groups: places where law enforcement is functioning, and places where we are engaged in war. It does not. There are places where WE are not at war, yet there's still a war going on and law enforcement is not an option.

(edit) Maybe we just need to live with that gap between what law enforcement can do and where we cross over into a military operation, but that's not the conversation that can start with an argument that gets the basic facts so ridiculously wrong. There's something very Bush/Cheney about his doublethink, where if America hasn't declared it a war zone, there are no battlefields. Like I said before, how charmingly Orwellian.

Come on Obama, can't you just stick to killing brown people that no one cares about? Leave American citizens alone.

LOL. We live in a world where it's okay for the President to unilaterally kill people, but Glenn Greenwald is Orwellian. Let me off this planet.

DSGamer wrote:

LOL. We live in a world where it's okay for the President to unilaterally kill people, but Glenn Greenwald is Orwellian. Let me off this planet.

Yeah, that had me scratching my head too.

Rallick wrote:
DSGamer wrote:

LOL. We live in a world where it's okay for the President to unilaterally kill people, but Glenn Greenwald is Orwellian. Let me off this planet.

Yeah, that had me scratching my head too.

It's simple: when someone argues semantics to the point where it's not a war zone or a battlefield unless America has gone to war in that country, that's Orwellian levels of double talk. Greenwald wrote:

You can't defend the application of "war powers" in these countries without embracing the once-very-controversial Bush/Cheney view that the whole is now a "battlefield" and the president's war powers thus exist without geographic limits.

I disagree. You can embrace the incredibly simple view that a battlefield is a battlefield. Sounds like a geographic limit to me. Furthermore, it's one that's immune to arguments about 'state secrets'. You don't need secret government information to prove in a court of law whether someone is in a war zone or not. He writes:

This "world-is-a-battlefield" theory was once highly controversial among Democrats. John Kerry famously denounced it when running for president, arguing instead that the effort against terrorism is "primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation that requires cooperation around the world".

If law enforcement operations were possible, it wouldn't BE a war zone. That's what war is: when civil order gives way to military conflict. So yes, you can defend this without embracing a 'global battlefield' view. All you have to do is not go all Orwellian like Greenwald is here by redefining words so simple as "war zone" and "battlefield" to mean only American hostilities.

You and Greenwald are talking about two different uses of the terms "battlefield", "war zone" and suchlike. You are talking about the face value assessment of the area. He is talking about the application of certain powers which are only supposed to be granted to the president when congress declares war. His complaint is that no such declaration was issued and these powers are being exercised illegally.

So yes, from the context he is discussing, a place is only a warzone if the government declares it as such. Call it a legal fiction if you like, but it is hardly doubethink.

Garden Ninja wrote:

You and Greenwald are talking about two different uses of the terms "battlefield", "war zone" and suchlike. You are talking about the face value assessment of the area. He is talking about the application of certain powers which are only supposed to be granted to the president when congress declares war. His complaint is that no such declaration was issued and these powers are being exercised illegally.

So yes, from the context he is discussing, a place is only a warzone if the government declares it as such. Call it a legal fiction if you like, but it is hardly doubethink.

No, I don't agree that's the context or that's his complaint. I think I know what you're saying, and it's valid. That it wasn't *just* authorization to go to war with those responsible for the attacks on September 11, 2001/Iraq, it also had geographical limits and at the very least Somalia is beyond those limits.

But he's going farther in that article than in your description of his complaint. His complaint includes the argument that you can't defend this without subscribing to the "global battlefield" theory of Bush/Cheney. In order for him to do that, he's got to argue some ridiculous semantics.

You know, if you haven't done anything wrong, the missile will just skip you and blow somebody else up. Easy-peasy. Because Jesus. And stuff.

It's so cute how many people think an online petition is going to convince politicians that this is a Bad Thing(tm). Doesn't stop me from signing them anyway.

Mixolyde wrote:

It's so cute how many people think an online petition is going to convince politicians that this is a Bad Thing(tm). Doesn't stop me from signing them anyway.

You'd think that in a democracy™ they'd be more interested in what a large group of people thinks. Even if just to keep up appearances.

Not to go all Civics 101, but the Fed is not organized democratically. They are not accountable to voters. And those elected in foreign states, make policies to effect all. This has an added wrinkle of being from the very broad war powers.

Transferring the issue to domestic terrorism, those with more legal knowledge than I, does this mean that the President would be within his authority, as the DOJ sees it, to greenlight KKK leaders or domestic militias with goals of overthrowing the US government?

To do so would be somewhat unprecedented. When the Bush Admin sought to deny habeas corpus to Gitmo detainees, that was squashed in the court.

I would turn you to Tennessee v. Garner I think the principles of shooting a fleeing suspect, or a shoot first/ask questions later approach applies in domestic use of combat drones.

Not an outright assassination. But I can clearly envision a Waco situation, where drones are sent in. There is a lot of support for the FBI, the ATF, and Local Law enforcement to get drones.

And then purely due to an operarional error, a drone loses control and crashes right onto the militia's compound and explodes, together with the payload of Hellfires it was carrying just in case.

All you have to do is not go all Orwellian like Greenwald is here by redefining words so simple as "war zone" and "battlefield" to mean only American hostilities.

They have to be defined that way. Another country's battlefield is not ours. If a battlefield is anywhere we want it to be, and if something is defined as a battlefield by the President and not by a an act of Congress, then the whole idea of battlefield being a meaningful restriction on the ability to arbitrarily kill people disappears.

That is what he is objecting to. Battlefields are not battlefields because the President claims they are.

Obama's already done it, so we can be sure that whatever legal justifications they come up with will make it a point to say what he did was kosher. We can argue about future implications, but he's already shown that he's willing to go ahead and have people killed even without established legal justification. Kind of renders any debate over the specifics moot.