Obama’s Secret Drone Assassination Memo Released

The United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a Freedom of Information Act request be granted with regard to a memo which has been used to justify the assassination of American citizens by drone strikes on foreign soil. While Congress made threats to obtain these documents, they never followed through. The memo was released on Monday by the Justice Department after several months of pursuits in court by the New York Times and the American Civil Liberties Union.

The forty-one page document, signed by David J. Barron, a Harvard Law Professor and former acting chief of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, outlines in detail and explanation for “legally” killing Anwar al-Awlaki, who was said to have been a part of al-Qaeda. Al-Awlaki was killed in a drone strike and his sixteen year old son was killed a month after in another drone strike.

According to the Washington Post:

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Important sections of the Justice Department’s legal analysis were stripped from the version of the document released to the public. Among the deleted portions were paragraphs that presumably explained why the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel determined that killing Awlaki in a drone strike would not violate the Fourth Amendment, which guarantees due process to U.S. citizens accused of crimes.

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Still, the memo provides previously unknown details about the reasoning behind one of the most controversial counterterrorism operations carried out by the U.S. government since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

According to the memo, Awlaki’s alleged ties to al-Qaeda “brings him within the scope” of the use of military force under 2001 congressional authorization. However, keep in mind that the Department of Defense had Awlaki speak at the Pentagon just months after 9-11, according to the FBI. What would that make them? In fact, what does it make Senator John McCain, Lindsey Graham or a host of other elected officials who have voted to support al-Qaeda in Syria, the same jihadists who are now overrunning Iraq? McCain had his picture taken with them for goodness sakes!

Anyone who has read what I write knows I am no friend of jihadists, but I have serious concerns about some of these strikes, especially when they are taking place in a country we are not at war with (Yemen) and they are on American citizens who are not an immediate threat. One understands that in the midst of the battlefield you must engage the enemy, but apparently Awlaki was not fighting anyone. His son was not fighting anyone either.

It is highly suspicious that the Fourth Amendment is not dealt with here and this was the reasoning behind Senator Rand Paul’s filibuster last year regarding the use of drones on American soil against American citizens in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Granted, if someone has renounced their citizenship, that is one thing, but that does not seem to have occurred.

Furthermore, the memo goes on to state that while killing an American citizen carries “the risk of erroneous deprivation of a citizen’s liberty in the absence of sufficient process,” it also goes on to claim that those considerations are overwhelmed when that citizen poses “a continued and imminent threat of violence or death.”

One has to wonder what was Awlaki about to do? Was he an imminent threat? Or a possible threat? Was he about to bomb Americans? Was he orchestrating something that was an imminent threat? The idea of imminency was brought up by Senator Paul during his filibuster.

Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who served as the Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, isn’t worried at all about drone strikes, and says that Barack Obama’s “kill list” is “totally right” and “totally constitutional.”

Even Democrat Senator Ron Wyden (OR), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, issued a statement in which he hoped the release of this memo would “generate new pressure for the executive branch to answer other pressing questions,” and whether or not the president has authority to assassinate Americans anywhere in the world, as well as defining what is meant by “capturing an American must be ‘infeasible.'”

However, Wyden, along with Senators Mark Udall (D-CO) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) came out in support of the killings of Awlaki and two others saying, “The decision to use lethal force against Anwar al-Alwaki…. It was a legitimate use of authority granted to the president.”

I’m wondering where Congress got the authority to authorize the president to assassinate American citizens from. It didn’t come from the Constitution, that’s for sure. And before you respond, consider that one day very soon, they may just neglect that little response of Eric Holder to Rand Paul and start performing these assassinations on American soil.

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