DOJ Prepared Secret Memo Enumerating “Legal Arguments” for Assassinating U.S. CitizensPosted: October 3, 2011 Filed under: Barack Obama, Human Rights, Team Obama, U.S. Politics | Tags: Anwar al-Aulaqi, assassinating U.S. citizens, Barack Obama, Bush administration, counterterrorism, Department of Justice, due process, Fifth Amendment, Samir Khan, torture memos 8 Comments
In April of 2009, President Obama released the secret “torture memos” prepared in 2002 and 2005 by the Bush Justice Department. From Huffpo:
President Barack Obama says the release of legal opinions governing harsh questioning of terrorism suspects is required by the law and should help address “a dark and painful chapter in our history.”
Obama issued a statement accompanying Thursday’s release of four significant memos written by the Bush administration in 2002 and 2005. The president said that the interrogation techniques outlined in the memos “undermine our moral authority and do not make us safer.”
Now we learn that Obama’s Justice Department has produced a secret memo to authorize the killing of American citizens by order of the President.
The Justice Department wrote a secret memorandum authorizing the lethal targeting of Anwar al-Aulaqi, the American-born radical cleric who was killed by a U.S. drone strike Friday, according to administration officials.
The document was produced following a review of the legal issues raised by striking a U.S. citizen and involved senior lawyers from across the administration. There was no dissent about the legality of killing Aulaqi, the officials said.
“What constitutes due process in this case is a due process in war,” said one of the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss closely held deliberations within the administration.
So if this is all on the up and up, no violations of the Constitution involved, why can’t we see the legal arguments?
The operation to kill Aulaqi involved CIA and military assets under CIA control. A former senior intelligence official said that the CIA would not have killed an American without such a written opinion.
A second American killed in Friday’s attack was Samir Khan, a driving force behind Inspire, the English-language magazine produced by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. An administration official said the CIA did not know Khan was with Aulaqi, but they also considered Khan a belligerent whose presence near the target would not have stopped the attack.
But if they needed a legal opinion in order to target Aulaqi, then why didn’t they need one of Khan? None of this makes any sense to me, and frankly, I’d like the ACLU lawyers to review this Justice Department memo.
At the Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf writes:
What justification can there be for President Obama and his lawyers to keep secret what they’re asserting is a matter of sound law? This isn’t a military secret. It isn’t an instance of protecting CIA field assets, or shielding a domestic vulnerability to terrorism from public view. This is an analysis of the power that the Constitution and Congress’ post September 11 authorization of military force gives the executive branch. This is a president exploiting official secrecy so that he can claim legal justification for his actions without having to expose his specific reasoning to scrutiny. As the Post put it, “The administration officials refused to disclose the exact legal analysis used to authorize targeting Aulaqi, or how they considered any Fifth Amendment right to due process.”
Obama hasn’t just set a new precedent about killing Americans without due process. He has done so in a way that deliberately shields from public view the precise nature of the important precedent he has set. It’s time for the president who promised to create “a White House that’s more transparent and accountable than anything we’ve seen before” to release the DOJ memo.
What I’d most like to know is who is making these decisions? I’m still slogging through the Suskind book, and again and again I’m learning that Obama had the right instincts–at least about economics–but then was thwarted by his supposed underlings. Is that happening in the area of counterterrorism as well?
We need to know, and that is why this memo must be released. Obama has shown that he has no ability to lead or even to stand up to his own “advisers” when they ignore his orders. We need to understand who really made the decision that American citizens must be murdered, rather than arrested, charged, and given fair trials. And that person needs to be fired immediately.
Here’s another interesting blog post on this issue from David Shipler:
This just drives me crazy. We had hearings after Congress caught on to things like the Iran Contra scandal. WTF is going on? Where are the checks and balances in this nation?
Not in Congress, that’s for sure.
We are all going to end up on the list for chit chatting about this, as I noticed that the press is SOOOO Quiet. Peace Movement SILENT! In fact the Peace Movement is more like a cheering section, and they don’t even notice or don’t say they notice that the WARS are making us go broke, while we lose more and more of Civil Liberties. 😥
I have always said, if people want to keep the WARS going, then let us put forth a WAR TAX and advice the voters on the current bill, the future bill and put it to a vote with a separate WAR TAX! If they are for it, then fine, they will be very happy to pay the tax.
Peace Movement SILENT! In fact the Peace Movement is more like a cheering section
the pro peace movement groups have been bought off and up of course…and long ago…2004-2007. Hilarious…these are the folks who can’t ever forgive Hill her vote…but they can’t get enough of O’s thrilling wars… good idea about the war tax!
0bowma as BB said — “We need to know, and that is why this memo must be released. Obama has shown that he has no ability to lead or even to stand up to his own “advisers” when they ignore his orders. We need to understand who really made the decision that American citizens must be murdered, rather than arrested, charged, and given fair trials. And that person needs to be fired immediately.
He has no history of the sort of leadership ability needed by the POTUS — this was one of the major reasons why I couldn’t vote for him in 08 and why I refuse to vote for him in ’12. Clearly he hasn’t developed the skills — because frankly I don’t believe those skills are learned — leadership is an innate skill/ability that can be sharped with lots of experience and a certain amount of failure (we learn from our mistakes — making everything easy for someone doesn’t make that person a strong leader.)
Where will the next “exception” happen — an American who doesn’t agree with a President and is vocal and actively speaking out against the President??? Perhaps a “lawyer” judges or writes an opinion that to capture and put this individual on trial would cause domestic discord — so to avoid “discord” this American citizen is assassinated on American soil using a drone — and oops a few others are killed. Oh well they were friends of the target . . . .
Once the assassinations of American citizens (without a trial of any kind) have begun — how far will they go? What happens if a right wing nut bag manages to get elected sometime in the future — what happens if a committee draws up an ungodly hit list?
We have a Constitution for a reason — seems like 0bowma is as much a Constitutional lawyer fraud as he is a fraud at true leadership in a crisis.
Will drone strikes become 0bama’s guantanamo?
They should be. It’s like three undeclared wars!!!