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Can American Citizens Be Killed Inside The USA? Robert Mueller Says He Will Have To Check.

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.

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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.

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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.

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I have to go back. Uh, I’m not certain whether that was addressed or not.

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When pressed for further clarification about the difference between domestic and foreign targeting, he equivocated even more.

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I’m going to defer that to others in the Department of Justice.

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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 Robert Muellerdesire 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Linked at The Bitter Americans.

About LD Jackson

LD Jackson has written 2053 posts in this blog.

Founder and author of the political and news commentary blog Political Realities. I have always loved to write, but never have I felt my writing was more important than in this present day. If I have changed one mind or impressed one American about the direction our country is headed, then I will consider my endeavors a success. I take the tag line on this blog very seriously. Above all else, in search of the truth.

  • The rule of law means nothing anymore. Progressives of all parties have snuffed it.

    • Right, because the conservatives who were okay with waterboarding and detaining human beings without trial are oh so concerned with the “rule of law.”

    • It’s very disturbing, Kurt.

  • I wonder how long it will be before the government calls us terrorists?

    Oh, never mind!

  • Well, this IS the “War on Terror,” right? So by that one would assume that means that we’re allowed to treat terrorists as enemy combatants, yes? None of you screamed when Osama bin Laden was executed on the spot.

    Oh but this guy is an American citizen, right? That automatically means that he is intrinsically different, and magically deserving of a legal process that non-citizens are not afforded.


    So, instead of killing him with a drone, we should have sent the FBI over there to get him, since terrorism is generally in the FBI’s jurisdiction. So we should have sent our cops over to detain him and bring him back to face the same fate as Timothy McVeigh, a domestic terrorist.

    Oh wait, according to many, we should have brought him to Guantanamo bay and have him rot there for 10 years because he’s an “enemy combatant,” in this “War on Terror.” Oh, I forgot, he’s an American citizen, so that means he actually gets his God-given natural human rights by virtue of being American.

    I really hope some of you see the mind boggling logical fallacies and loopholes at play here. Why don’t you all just admit it? You’re nationalists.


    • Jack,

      I will reply to your comment in more detail, later this evening. First, I would like you to read this post from 2009. It may give you some insight into how I feel about this.

      • This wasn’t necessarily pointed at you Larry. I’m sorry if it came off that way.

    • Inalienable rights, or God-given natural human rights as you call them, are fundamental to all people. Being an American has no bearing on them. God didn’t single out America. This is not a natural law issue. This is a due process issue. Without due process, there can be no rule of law. The simple fact is that the Constitution guarantees due process to all citizens. There is no magical process as you state, the 5th Amendment isn’t magic.

      The question is since he only renounced his citizenship de facto, he never properly declared so under U.S. law, does the rule of law still apply? Even determining if the 14th Amendment applies is questionable because his parents were Yemeni nationals,Yemen doesn’t recognize dual-citizenships, so we can’t definitively say he was ever even an American citizen. But that’s beside the point because this debate centers on the role American citizenship plays in targeted killings.

      Those who support the rule of law are simply concerned whenever the Executive Branch decides to interpret law. Does this make me a “nationalist” as you have decreed?

      • Good point. This is all about due process, or the lack thereof.

    • For the record, I was not particularly pleased with the killing of Osama bin Laden. I certainly thought he needed to be brought to justice, but not shot in cold blood.

      As 5etester has pointed out, this has nothing to do with natural human rights. It is about the due process of law that is supposed to be a part of our country. When you read the 5th Amendment, it doesn’t actually name citizens. It says “no person”. From there, I suppose we could get into a discussion about what “no person” means, but I am not sure it is relevant to this case.

      Simply put, killing US citizens like this is a very dangerous precedent to set. It really doesn’t matter to me if they are on American soil or not. Once we take a step or two down this path, it is going to be almost impossible to pull back from the brink. Where will it all stop, if we do not stop it now?

      • It is a dangerous precedence, yes, and I’m not saying that what they did was right. In fact, I’m saying the exact opposite.

        I know this has to do with due process, but my point is that there are a lot of conservatives who believe that only American citizens are deserving of due process.

        If man’s natural rights are life, liberty, and property, then due process falls under the right of liberty. Once we start killing people in the name of justice, then we start getting into the whole life issue.

        It seems to me that a lot of people (not necessarily you, Larry, or the 5etester guy) only care about due process when the possibility of losing THEIR rights actually becomes a reality. Many conservatives DEFENDED waterboarding and the detention of people at Guantanamo Bay. Why? Because it was just dirty, Arab, Muslim terrorists.

        Start throwing clean, American, Christians in Gitmo without trial, waterboarding them, and then we’ll see people actually care about rights and due process.

  • You know what really bothers me about all of this, is that there is already a constitutional provision that governs this area Larry.

    Article III, section 3 states:

    Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in
    adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of
    Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on
    Confession in open Court.

    The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of
    Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the
    Person attainted.

    I don’t believe Congress or any other branch of government has the constitutional power to assassinate an American citizen without a trial. I believe what they doing now is completely unconstitutional and this is why it has never been promoted before this time period. I also believe that these unelected officials pushing this know they are on shaky constitutional footing. Here’s why. Article III pertains to the Judicial Branch of government, so this tells me that section 3 simply defines what treason is in legal terms and states that Congress will have the power to determine the punishment for treason; however because it is listed under Article III congress in this case must operate under the umbrella of Judicial Branch of government. This doesn’t mean they have the authority to do an end around the Judicial Branch and make it up as they go because nowhere does it imply or say that American citizens can simply be assassinated for taking up arms against America. But hey what do I know, nothing has stopped them before from getting around that pesky little thing we call our constitution. After all it’s become much like the Pirate’s code from the movie Pirates of the Caribbean…simply a guideline. When are we going to finally wake up in this country and vote all these bums our who don’t adhere to the constitution?

    • You nailed it, John. There is clearly a constitutional precedent for this. A precedent that should prevent a discussion like this from even having to take place. It is a precedent that is being completely ignored and it is not good for our country.

  • Who decides if an American is a terrorist or an enemy combatant?

    • That’s a good question. The ambiguity of it is frightening.

  • I am so glad you snagged this one. I had been looking for the video without success. It truly has to be seen to be apprecieated. The fact that it is even a question should leave us quaking in our boots.

    • There should be no question, Bunker. Of course, that seems to be the norm for this administration.

  • We’re well on our way to becoming a police state wherein people fear for their very lives at the hand of the government. This is all being done by convincing us that it just pertains to al qaeda members. But the precedent it sets will extend well beyond al qaeda Americans. Who will be the next government declared enemy of the people that the government believes it can kill Americans at will?

    • I mentioned the precedent in one of my comments above. It is a dangerous path we trod, I believe.

  • Eric Holder has already stated it is okay to kill Americans fighting on the battlefield against the US, and we must remember that the Defense Appropriations bill contained language which defined the US as a battlefield in the war on terror so I will not be surprised when the government authorizes the killing of an American on US soil. It is only a matter of time.

    • It’s troubling, to say the least. I am not one to jump every time cries “boo”, but this worries me. I keep coming back to the precedent it will set. What path will it take us down?

  • As long as Holler is running DOJ I wouldn’t put anything past this administration.

    Where is the Liberal outcry?

    • There will be no Liberal outcry. Not a chance.

  • While I’m certainly no fan of Obama or of any parts of his administration, I feel the need to point out that this isn’t just an Obama/Holder thing. Many Congressional Republicans hold this belief as well.

    When they were debating the NDAA, Rand Paul asked John McCain very directly, and McCain said that the government must be able to take out American citizens. Other neocons like McCain (people like Lindsey Graham) fall in line behind McCain on this issue.

    In the GOP presidential race, Romney, Gingrich, and Santorum all believe the government needs this power. Only Ron Paul has spoken out against it.

    So while we’re right in the discussion that this is a problem of due process (or the lack thereof), it’s important to remember that simply replacing the “D’s” with “R’s” in Washington won’t necessarily fix this problem.

    • You are exactly right, Ron. Many Republicans believe it is perfectly acceptable to kill Americans without due process. Just going from one party to the other isn’t necessarily going to change the way our government is targeting individuals. We need to remember that.

  • I heard Lt. Col. Shaffer say that Anwar-Alawlaki was an FBI asset prior to 9/11. Of course Mueller didn’t take the reigns until the week before 9/11, it is an odd coincidence that so many “terror” attacks were connected to a man that the head of Operation Dark Heart says was a government asset.

    They know that when the people in the most heavily armed country start putting together how much has been taken from us, they don’t want any organization. Thus the demonization of the militia movements, Waco and Ruby Ridge.

    • Isn’t it somewhat strange that so many of our “assets” turned on us? Obviously, our government doesn’t seem to be a good judge of character.

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