(NaturalNews) Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr., says the U.S. Constitution does not protect American citizens who may be plotting to kill other Americans via terrorism.
In a speech at Northwestern University School of Law
in Chicago this week, http://www.washingtonpost.com
and could therefore be targeted legally
"Any decision to use lethal force against a United States citizen -- even one intent on murdering Americans and who has become an operational leader of al-Qaeda in a foreign land -- is among the gravest that government leaders can face," Holder said, no doubt before scores of future lawyers, some of whom may eventually work for the federal government someday. "The American people can be -- and deserve to be -- assured that actions taken in their defense are consistent with their values and their laws."
Holder said anyone deemed to pose an "imminent threat" to other Americans and who could not otherwise be reasonably captured could face the business end of a sniper or drone-launched missile, or any number of other killing techniques. Critical factors that would result in such a decision include a "relevant window of opportunity to act, the possible harm that missing the window would cause to civilians and the likelihood of heading off future disastrous attacks against the United States." Holder went onto say the president is not bound by the Constitution
to delay assassinations of American citizens
until some "theoretical end stage of planning -- when the precise time, place and manner of an attack become clear," The Washington Post
"Given the nature of how terrorists act and where they tend to hide, it may not always be feasible to capture a U.S. citizen terrorist who presents an imminent threat of violent attack," Holder said
.Justifying the indefensible
Though he didn't mention anyone by name, Holder's speech appeared to be aimed at the death of Anwar al-Awlaki
, a senior al Qaeda leader in Yemen who was killed by a U.S. drone strike in September.
Since then, the Obama administration - the same one that http://www.nytimes.com
- has rightfully been under increased pressure to explain it's legal position regarding the targeted killing of American citizens, regardless of what they are allegedly planning to do, without affording them
Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU's (American Civil Liberties Union
) National Security Project
, said Holder's comments are flat-out dangerous, and though it was supposedly an attempt by the administration to be more transparent, the speech "is ultimately a defense of the government's chillingly broad claimed authority to conduct targeted killings of civilians, including American citizens
In comments to USA Today
, Shamsi continued, "Few things are as dangerous to American liberty as the proposition that the government should be able to kill citizens anywhere in the world on the basis of legal
standards and evidence that are never submitted to a court, either before or after the fact."
Others maintain such assassinations violate international legal conduct as well.
"Relevant international law does not permit targeted killing far from battle zones," Mary Ellen O'Connell, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame
, told the paper.Constitutional hypocrisy
Holder defended the administration's position, essentially by changing the argument to one Obama used to criticize.
"The Constitution's guarantee of due process is ironclad, and it is essential, but ... it does not require judicial approval before the president may use force abroad against a senior operational leader of a foreign terrorist organization with which the United States is at war, even if that individual happens to be a U.S. citizen," Holder said.
The position that Obama is taking now - and his attorney general is defending - is that the country has a right to protect itself against its enemies which is exactly the position taken by the previous Bush administration
, and one that Obama, as a U.S. senator and presidential candidate, routinely criticized.
The one major difference is, the Bush administration never targeted and killed U.S. citizens
. That "honor" lies squarely with Obama.Sources for this article include:http://www.washingtonpost.comhttp://www.usatoday.comhttp://www.newsroomamerica.comhttp://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/08/world/americas/08guantanamo.htmlhttp://www.politifact.com
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