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Old Feb 5, 2013, 08:34 AM   #1
rdowns
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Justice Department memo reveals legal case for drone strikes on Americans

Talk about presidential overreach. I get that Obama is trying to define US engagement with drones but this reads like it came our of a Republican administration.

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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 abroad, 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.
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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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Although not an official legal memo, the white paper was represented by administration officials as a policy document that closely mirrors the arguments of classified memos on targeted killings by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which provides authoritative legal advice to the president and all executive branch agencies. The administration has refused to turn over to Congress or release those memos publicly -- or even publicly confirm their existence. A source with access to the white paper, which is not classified, provided a copy to NBC News.
Mod note: The source link is here.

Last edited by SandboxGeneral; Feb 13, 2013 at 05:13 AM. Reason: Added source URL
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Old Feb 5, 2013, 09:11 AM   #2
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I would like to see this discussed in public in a rational way. Long before drones and targeted airstrikes, these doctrines already existed in some form when citizens of one country would become soldiers in a foreign country. I believe (constitutional lawyer needed here) that they were effectively held to be non-citizens of their country during a military engagement. And, of course, if they were actively fighting directly against their own country, traitors, and if caught, subject to immediate execution. And I know that historically, people have lost their citizenship by fighting in the army of a non-allied country.

Well, that's the old, old days anyway. The "battlefield" is a remotely-controlled drone strike, and the traitors may be plotting in a remote location. What rules apply, that distinguishes somebody working for al-Qaeda from someone on a beach holiday in Yemen? A secret finding? It does seem to me that there should be some public declaration that could be legally challenged-- in case, you know, someone made a mistake?
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Old Feb 5, 2013, 09:13 AM   #3
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Yeah, I'm not a big fan of using drones to kill US citizens. It's got a few problem, if you will.
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Old Feb 5, 2013, 12:27 PM   #4
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I would be amazed if assassination of US citizen by US gov in foreign land has not happened before.

The use of armed drones does not change the equation.

The only part troubling is no indictment or arrest warrant was issued before the strikes (yes, more then one attack).

It IS concerning the extent of the drone strikes. Can they use drones on people in US property?
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Old Feb 5, 2013, 12:29 PM   #5
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If this is allowed to be used in the united states I'm joining Ted Nugent's militia.

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Old Feb 5, 2013, 12:49 PM   #6
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I have a more global worry about drone strikes. The obvious idea behind these strikes is to eliminate a perceived enemy without risk to military personnel of the country launching the strike. I have no desire whatsoever for US or UK military personnel to undertake unnecessary risks. However, I see these drone strikes occurring on other countries' soil, as though the US does not care about national boundaries. I think international law is an utter joke, but these strikes makes the US vulnerable to charges of breaking the law. My worry is that someday another country, or a group of extremist lunatics, will make one of these cheap drones and use it on the US or the UK. During the morning of 9/11 the US could not track passenger airliners and intercept them before they reached major cities. Imagine trying to defend against smaller, stealthier drones.
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Old Feb 5, 2013, 01:52 PM   #7
webbuzz
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rdowns View Post
Talk about presidential overreach. I get that Obama is trying to define US engagement with drones but this reads like it came our of a Republican administration.
But, it didn't. If it had come out of a Republican administration, the media, and people on this forum would be hysterical.

Regardless of party, this is a slippery slope, and should be challenged by Congress.
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Old Feb 5, 2013, 02:52 PM   #8
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It's an interesting issues.

Drones are a technological advance and as such the issue needs to be examined carefully.

Electronic eavesdropping devices are a relatively new and yet valuable tool that we've come to accept as part of police / government use. The recent rescue of the 5 year-old kid in the bunker was AFAIK partly achieved by the authorities sneaking a camera in.

So if drones are employed for intelligence gathering then there's a pretty gray area between what's already being done and adding drones to that.

Likewise, in a hostage situation snipers have been used to take out suspects. If a drone were able to get positioned where a human could not, wouldn't that be a valid use to take someone out?
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Old Feb 6, 2013, 03:36 PM   #9
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If the drones don't get you, the black helicopters will.
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Old Feb 6, 2013, 04:58 PM   #10
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It will be interesting to see what happens when another country uses a drone to kill a U.S. diplomat, member of the military, or a citizen.
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Old Feb 6, 2013, 05:00 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by webbuzz View Post
It will be interesting to see what happens when another country uses a drone to kill a U.S. diplomat, member of the military, or a citizen.
Why ? The mindset of USA is everybody's a terrorist cept'un us mericans.

/southern speak
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Old Feb 6, 2013, 05:07 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Peace View Post
Why ? The mindset of USA is everybody's a terrorist cept'un us mericans.

/southern speak
I guess Obama does have a slight twang to his accent.
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