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Drone Wars: A government memo concludes the U.S. can order the killing of American citizens believed to be tied to al-Qaida, with the White House acting as judge, jury and executioner. Gee, what about due process?
Those of us who remember the condemnation and scorn heaped on President George W. Bush by liberals and civil libertarians for his post-9/11 security measures are bemused by the Obama administration's official declaration of the right to kill Americans abroad through the use of drone strikes.
And it's based on the idea that a single White House official can decide whether the individual in question is a threat.
"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," says the confidential Justice Department "white paper" obtained by NBC News.
So who gets to make the call? The memo 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," but leaves undefined who that official might be and does not define "activities" or "recently."
This is an administration that condemned the use of enhanced interrogation techniques used on the likes of Khalid Sheik Muhammed, including water boarding, that were branded as "torture" even though they produced information that saved American lives and led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.
KSM at one point was to be given the benefit of an American jury trial in a civilian court. Indefinite detention without trial was to be ended and Guantanamo was to be closed.
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