Many of us who are troubled about the direction our federal government has taken have voiced our concerns about the targeted killing of United States citizens. The case that brings that topic to the forefront is the death of Anwar al-Awlaki, via drone strike. The question at hand is if Awlaki was entitled to a trial, before being found guilty and executed. After all, he was an American citizen. Attorney General Eric Holder gave a speech at Northwestern University on Monday and in it, laid out three criteria for the targeted killing of United States citizens who were living abroad. From Fox News, here is what he said.
First, the U.S. government has determined, after a thorough and careful review, that the individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States; second, capture is not feasible; and third, the operation would be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles.
These three criteria really do not make me feel more comfortable with this, but there is something even more troubling. FBI Director Robert Mueller was asked by Congress if he believe the criteria only applied to United States citizens outside of the country and he had this to say.
I have to go back. Uh, I’m not certain whether that was addressed or not.
When pressed for further clarification about the difference between domestic and foreign targeting, he equivocated even more.
I’m going to defer that to others in the Department of Justice.
I understand that Director Mueller was probably trying to be careful with his words and how he answered the questions. I am sure he has no desire to be thrown under the bus for something he said in a Congressional hearing. I can not blame him for that. However, it does trouble me that we have a Department of Justice that has left a subject like this so open-ended that one of its high-ranking employees feels like he doesn’t have the freedom to flatly say that the United States government does not have the authority, under any circumstances, to target and kill its citizens who are living inside its borders.
Indeed, Eric Holder goes further to explain why his Department of Justice believes they have the authority to do just that. He calls it defending the country with lethal force.
Given the nature of how terrorists act and where they tend to hide, it may not always be feasible to capture a United States citizen terrorist who presents an imminent threat of violent attack. In that case, our government has the clear authority to defend the United States with lethal force.
You’ll forgive me if I am more than a little skeptical of his intentions. Given his track record of lying to Congress and covering it up, I can not help but wonder how far he would be willing to go to “defend” our country. Given the track record of the entire Obama administration of classifying some right-wing conservative groups as home-grown terrorists, I have to wonder also if Attorney General Holder would be willing to target someone from one of those groups because it wasn’t “feasible” to capture them and put them on trial for their supposed crimes.
This may sound like I am jumping at shadows, but the actions of the Obama administration, from the White House on down, give me great cause for concern. We need to be examining them closer, as the general election draws closer.
Linked at The Bitter Americans.