President Barack Obama is considering killing another U.S. citizen affiliated with Al Qaeda in a drone attack, according to a report published Monday by the Associated Press.
According to the AP, the Administration is debating whether to kill him in a strike, as the US is legally obliged to follow rules established under a stricter targeting policy established last year. The U.S. killed another U.S. citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, in September.
“The CIA drones watching him cannot strike because he’s a U.S. citizen and the Justice Department must build a case against him, a task it hasn’t completed,” the AP reports.
“Four U.S. officials said the American suspected terrorist is in a country that refuses U.S. military action on its soil and that has proved unable to go after him,” adds the report. “And President Barack Obama’s new policy says American suspected terrorists overseas can only be killed by the military, not the CIA, creating a policy conundrum for the White House.”
Two officials reportedly told AP the U.S. believed the man to be an Al Qaeda facilitator directly responsible for attacks against US citizens overseas and continues to abet efforts to produce improvised explosive devices.
“But one U.S. official said the Defense Department was divided over whether the man is dangerous enough to merit the potential domestic fallout of killing an American without charging him with a crime or trying him, and the potential international fallout of such an operation in a country that has been resistant to U.S. action,” the AP added.
Attorney General Eric Holder told a crowd at Northwestern University Law School in 2012 that the U.S. can launch strikes on U.S. citizens broad if they are deemed an imminent threat. Critics noted that targeting U.S. citizens for death was a violation of due process, arguing it was illegal under U.S. law.
“Any decision to use lethal force against a United States citizen — even one intent on murdering Americans and who has become an operational leader of al-Qaeda in a foreign land — is among the gravest that government leaders can face,” Holder said in the speech. “The American people can be — and deserve to be — assured that actions taken in their defense are consistent with their values and their laws.”
The ACLU fired back.
“While the speech is a gesture towards additional transparency, it is ultimately a defense of the government’s chillingly broad claimed authority to conduct targeted killings of civilians, including American citizens, far from any battlefield without judicial review or public scrutiny,” Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, was quoted as saying.
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