On UP with Chris Hayes on Sunday night, the panel discussed the recent white paper on drone strikes obtained by NBC News and how concerned we should be regarding distinctions between citizens and non-citizens.
Hina Shamsi, Director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, said that with regard to U.S. citizens, there are supposed limits of “imminence,” as defined by a recent memo released by NBC News. However, the administration’s definition of imminence seemed at odds with how most people define the term.
“Those terms are redefined in such a way that they are vague, elastic, and robbed of their plain meaning,” Shamsi said.
With regard to imminent threat of attacks that merit attacks such as drone strikes, the administration defines it as “the possibility of reducing collateral damage to civilians and the likelihood of heading off future disastrous attacks on Americans,” adding that the U.S. must consider that “members of al Qaeda…are continually plotting attacks against the United States.”
Shamsi says the white paper appears to means that the administration argues it can kill citizens “who don’t truly pose an imminent threat, far from any battlefield, and without judicial review either before the fact or after the fact.”
“How much should we care that it’s citizens?” Hayes asked.
“I don’t think you should care,” said Richard Epstein of NYU Law School, who said that in other proceedings there is no distinction between citizens and aliens. Those differences arise, for instance, in job preferences or property issues — not crimes.
“The reason that we’re talking about citizenship here is because it is clear that citizens have a right to the court house, that they can get into the courtroom door, where it’s less clear with non-citizens,” said Shamsi.
“I don’t think that’s true,” Epstein said. “I think that non-citizens have a right” as well.
“Listen I completely agree with you. Unfortunately the courts haven’t,” Shamsi said.
“Well, I mean, that’s their problem. They’re wrong,” he replied.
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