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Old 02-05-2013, 06:21 PM   #1
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Leaked DOJ White Paper details Administration's right to target US Citizens (on Foreign Soil.)

I do worry.


White Paper PDF on Legal Case for Drone Strikes on US Citizens

NBC News report: Legal Case for Drone Strikes on US Citizens
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Old 02-05-2013, 06:30 PM   #2
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Are we still at war with Al Qaida? Regardless of nationality, wouldn't an Al Qaida member be an enemy?

And, does the paper specify "which" foreign soils? (Some how I don't see a US drone popping up in London to blow away a car with an Al Qaida operative in it.) Not saying any of it is right or wrong, mind. Just asking the questions.
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Old 02-05-2013, 06:35 PM   #3
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This sends echoes of Nixon through my psyche. "If the President does it, it's not illegal."

Reason points out 5 Disturbing Aspects of the DOJ White Paper on the President's License to Kill.

Then they wrap it all up nicely in the summary. Bolding mine.
Quote:
More generally, the white paper fleshes out the Obama administration's argument that U.S. citizens killed by drones are getting all the process that is appropriate in the circumstances; hence the Fifth Amendment, though implicated, is not violated. And since these targeted killings are lawful acts of self-defense, the Justice Department says, they do not violate the law against killing U.S. nationals in foreign countries or the executive order banning assassination. After all, "A lawful killing in self-defense is not an assassination." Duh.

The problem is that to accept this position, you have to put complete trust in the competence, wisdom, and ethics of the president, his underlings, and their successors. You have to believe they are properly defining and inerrantly identifying people who pose an imminent (or quasi-imminent) threat to national security and eliminating that threat through the only feasible means, which involves blowing people up from a distance. If mere mortals deserved that kind of faith, we would not need a Fifth Amendment, or the rest of the Constitution.
Even for those who consider Obama the best thing since sliced bread, doesn't it concern you that a Perry or Palin in the White House would inherit these assumed powers?
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Old 02-05-2013, 06:49 PM   #4
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Would it be different if, instead of a scary electronic bit of "science fiction come true," we were sending in a squad of soldiers to kill or capture our enemies leaders in a war?
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Old 02-05-2013, 06:51 PM   #5
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Williebee, I am still looking through the paper. I have not found it rule out any foreign country, actually. But I will keep looking.

Quote:
This white paper sets forth a legal framework for considering the circumstances in which the U.S. government could use lethal force in a foreign country outside the area of active hostilities against a U.S. citizen who is a senior operational leader of al-Qa'ida or an associated force1 of al-Qa'ida--that is, an al-Qa'ida leader actively engaged in planning operations to kill Americans.
The white paper does say al Qaida or "an associated force", so that pretty much leaves it open to anyone the government feels is a threat regardless the name used, doesn't it? A footnote on page one says an associated force of al Qaida "includes a group that would qualify as a co-belligerent under the laws of war." And, according to the white paper, apparently we are still at war with al Qaida.

At least they didn't say we are at war with "terror". Those days of parroting Bush's introduction of that piece of nonsense are gone, I hope. It is a small bright spot for me in all of this, not cringing and grinding my teeth every time I heard that.

I am also concerned that although the white paper specifically says "foreign soil" that it is not such a huge jump to bring it here when we now have drones allowed in our air space. I am not liking this developing new world very much at all.
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Old 02-05-2013, 06:54 PM   #6
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It would be different if they were not trying to dismiss the constitution's protections of U.S. citizens. That is the part that worries me--the undermining of rights, checks, and balances which has been happening consistently for years now and just keeps getting worse.
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Old 02-05-2013, 07:08 PM   #7
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Old 02-05-2013, 07:50 PM   #8
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I have read the white paper all the way through.


Now I wonder who, specifically, they are trying to justify killing. Because it does seem quite specific in the end:

Quote:
As stated earlier, this paper does not attempt to determine the minimum requirements necessary to render such an operation lawful, nor does it assess what might be required to render a lethal operation against a U.S. citizen lawful in other circumstances. It concludes only that the stated conditions would be sufficient to make lawful a lethal operation in a foreign country directed against a U.S. citizen with the characteristics described above.
Williebee,

No foreign nation is ruled out. So, yes, it could happen in England if the U.S. were given permission to proceed. Or anywhere else in the world whether the host nation was willing or not:
Quote:
Moreover, a lethal operation in a foreign nation would be consistent with international legal principles of sovereignty and neutrality if it were conducted, for example, with the consent of the host nation's government or after determination that the host nation is unable or unwilling to suppress the threat posed by the individual targeted.
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Old 02-05-2013, 07:58 PM   #9
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Now I wonder who, specifically, they are trying to justify killing. Because it does seem quite specific in the end:
It's in your second link:

Quote:
The 16-page memo, a copy of which was obtained by NBC News, provides new details about the legal reasoning behind one of the Obama administration’s most secretive and controversial polices: its dramatically increased use of drone strikes against al-Qaida suspects abroad, including those aimed at American citizens, such as the September 2011 strike in Yemen that killed alleged al-Qaida operatives Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan. Both were U.S. citizens who had never been indicted by the U.S. government nor charged with any crimes.
This doesn't appear to be a new memo, but rather one dating back to 2011, written to justify the legality of the above prior to the actual strike.
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Old 02-05-2013, 08:15 PM   #10
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Williebee,

No foreign nation is ruled out. So, yes, it could happen in England if the U.S. were given permission to proceed.
Yeah, I was kinda bein' flippant.

And, really, just playing devil's advocate a bit while I work this through in my head. For example:

Yesterday, in Alabama, a squad of government agents may used a flashbang and handheld weapons to kill a US citizen who was holding and threatening a little boy. "Good on 'em" as far as I'm concerned.

Awhile back a squad US agents/military used a drone (on foreign soil) to kill a US citizen who had allied himself with an enemy of the US, an enemy who has threatened, plotted, endangered and killed US citizens.

Where are the distinctions, where are the differences? Do they make one acceptable and the other not? And why?

yeah, I ponder these things. I also ponder stuff like how drones could save lives and aid in search and rescue missions... or wipe out communities and compounds.

Oh, and I ponder puppies and old dogs.
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Old 02-05-2013, 08:41 PM   #11
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If an American citizen joins a terrorist organization and that organization has declared a jihad against this country and its citizens as Al Qaeda has, then they have to deal with the repercussions and if the repercussions are a deadly drone strike, oh well. No sympathy.
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Old 02-05-2013, 09:02 PM   #12
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If an American citizen joins a terrorist organization and that organization has declared a jihad against this country and its citizens as Al Qaeda has, then they have to deal with the repercussions and if the repercussions are a deadly drone strike, oh well. No sympathy.
IF is a damned big word, and the reason for the due process protections afforded by the Constitution. The executive branch claiming the power to be judge, jury and executioner with no oversight is frightening, IMO.

Nor does the flippant calling down of a drone strike address the issue of "collateral damage," the murder of civilians unaccused of anything who just happen to be in the same area as a declared bad guy.

Throw in the broad umbrella definitions of all those terms that allowed the killing of a 16-year-old boy because he was the son of a declared "enemy of the state" while a senior advisor blames the killing on "irresponsible parenting" and you have the ingredients for a real-life dystopia.

Apparently the President can order the killing of a child, an American citizen accused and convicted of no crime, in a separate strike because their father belonged to the wrong group. Apparently he can get away with this murder and any "collateral damage" scott-free, without any serious damage even to his reputation. I don't understand why anyone would see that as a good thing.
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Old 02-05-2013, 09:11 PM   #13
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IF is a damned big word,

Nor does the flippant calling down of a drone strike address the issue of "collateral damage,"
Don't try to make what I wrote something it isn't. Nobody flippantly called down, or suggested calling down an airstrike anywhere.

And yeah, "IF" is a big damn word. It also cuts both ways.
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Old 02-05-2013, 09:21 PM   #14
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Ahhhh. Thank you, Rob.

Reg, what if the U.S. citizen hasn't become a part of the terrorist group? What if the U.S. citizen, I'll call him Bill, is a jeweler. He went into their building after receiving a call from them to show them his wares. Of course, because the jewelry was a present for the leader of the group, no one was speaking in plain language, but it was all hush hush and the phone call could be interpreted in soooo many ways to mean Bill had something the terrorists wanted to further their agenda. Bill, being a businessman willing to go after the sale, met them at their place, showed him his jewelry, and they chose a necklace. Sale made. Gift given but then the rest of the members of the group thought it was such a great necklace they all wanted jewelry and called him back. And so Bill went back time and again to show and deliver jewelry. The intelligence agents had gotten his phone logs when he first entered the building and knew he was obviously up to no good because he was "selling wares to the enemy". So they had his phone tapped and him under constant surveillance. His repeated return to said enemy's building supported their hunch his jewelry business was a front for terrorist activity. And what if Bill was invited to dinner by the group because they liked that person? And what if Bill had nothing to do with the planning to kill U.S. citizens, didn't even know the group of apparent businessmen were part of a terrorist organization, but was seen by the intelligence agents as being implicated in terrorist activities? And now, because they are there a lot, they must be high up, especially after that party that was thrown for them where the comments outside the door while the terrorist was shaking Bill's hand was, "you are number one now. You will be here tomorrow, yes?"

No, can't have due process getting in the way. Just kill him. He is obviously a high up in the terrorist organization. After all, intelligence agencies never make any mistakes.
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Old 02-05-2013, 09:26 PM   #15
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I am comfortable with the idea that the US government has as much right to seek and, if necessary, take out - by whatever means are necessary - terrorists who want to attack and kill Americans. I'm comfortable with the idea that some of these terrorists will be US citizens.

Timothy McVeigh was an American and undeniably a terrorist. If he had been killed by government agents from the ATF or FBI before he blew up the Murrah building, it would have been a public service.

I don't like this particular memo. It's too broad and open to too many interpretations. Law enforcement personnel on US soil have very strict guidelines on who, when and how they can legally use deadly force.

Their definition of "imminent" is awfully broad.
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Old 02-05-2013, 09:33 PM   #16
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If an American citizen joins a terrorist organization and that organization has declared a jihad against this country and its citizens as Al Qaeda has, then they have to deal with the repercussions and if the repercussions are a deadly drone strike, oh well. No sympathy.

Yes this. Although I'd rather they send a sniper than a drone.
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Old 02-05-2013, 09:34 PM   #17
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Ambrosia, not sure your example is sound, in that (I think) we still have sanctions against doing business with Al Qaeda and businesses have a responsibility to know who they are doing business with.

That said, I do think somebody up the chain really should be explaining to some form of oversight how this kid died. We don't know the whys and hows. "We," meaning me, doesn't need to know, but someone in an oversight role should.

It may have been a mistake. It may have been a legitimate airstrike.

And THAT SAID, to me, the real question is, should we be "at war?" And, if the answer to that is "Yes" then we the people need to be at war and accept that people die, both combatants and bystanders. And the sooner we can conclude the war, the sooner that stops. If we can't shoulder or stomach that, maybe the answer should be "no." Should it be yes or no? I'm not sure.
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Old 02-05-2013, 09:48 PM   #18
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Does this give the United States carte Blanche, or did they already have it, to just blow the fuck out of anyone they want any where, any time, without any more probable cause then, "well, he had a beard and spoke with an accent?" Forget American citizens for a second and just think about it as they feel they have the right (might makes right) to kill any human being on the planet just because.
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Old 02-05-2013, 10:24 PM   #19
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IF is a damned big word, and the reason for the due process protections afforded by the Constitution. The executive branch claiming the power to be judge, jury and executioner with no oversight is frightening, IMO.

Nor does the flippant calling down of a drone strike address the issue of "collateral damage," the murder of civilians unaccused of anything who just happen to be in the same area as a declared bad guy.

Throw in the broad umbrella definitions of all those terms that allowed the killing of a 16-year-old boy because he was the son of a declared "enemy of the state" while a senior advisor blames the killing on "irresponsible parenting" and you have the ingredients for a real-life dystopia.

Apparently the President can order the killing of a child, an American citizen accused and convicted of no crime, in a separate strike because their father belonged to the wrong group. Apparently he can get away with this murder and any "collateral damage" scott-free, without any serious damage even to his reputation. I don't understand why anyone would see that as a good thing.
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Don't try to make what I wrote something it isn't. Nobody flippantly called down, or suggested calling down an airstrike anywhere.

And yeah, "IF" is a big damn word. It also cuts both ways.

If is a very complicated word as well.

If the raid to recue Ethan had resulted in the young boy's death, people would be yelling and screaming. If they hadn't raided and he'd been killed, then too. But these situations rarely have certain outcomes.

If you have John Smith working with Al Qaeda, and we don't take the chance to kill him and he kills American citizens, people will yell and scream. It's a damned if they do, damned if they don't kind of thing.
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Old 02-05-2013, 11:24 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Don View Post
Throw in the broad umbrella definitions of all those terms that allowed the killing of a 16-year-old boy because he was the son of a declared "enemy of the state" while a senior advisor blames the killing on "irresponsible parenting" and you have the ingredients for a real-life dystopia.

Apparently the President can order the killing of a child, an American citizen accused and convicted of no crime, in a separate strike because their father belonged to the wrong group. Apparently he can get away with this murder and any "collateral damage" scott-free, without any serious damage even to his reputation. I don't understand why anyone would see that as a good thing.

The case of Abdulrahman Awlaki is a good example of some of the problems with this broader issue that really need to be addressed, imo. There's a good Washington Post article about it that I recommend...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/...Y7L_story.html

An excerpt that I think is especially important...

Quote:
Officials throughout the U.S. government, however, have refused to answer questions for the record about how or why Awlaki was killed Oct. 14 in a remote part of Yemen, along with eight other people.

The Obama administration has asserted the right to launch attacks against al-Qaeda members anywhere in the world, saying there is no difference between a battlefield in Afghanistan and a suspected terrorist hideout in Yemen or Somalia.

But when U.S. forces kill civilians or operations go awry in traditional war zones such as Afghanistan or Iraq, the military routinely conducts official investigations. The results are often declassified and released as public records.
Bolding mine.

It seems reasonable to criticize the Obama admin. for refusing to say in this case who the intended target was. As the WaPO article notes, there were US officials who reported anonymously that Abdulrahman wasn't the intented target of the strike--that it was actually an Egyptian named Ibrahim al-Banna.

But because the only government comments are anonymous and unofficial, it's difficult to assess these kinds of statements. In one case, there was an anonymous statement that claimed Abdulrahman was "a military-age male", something that turned out later to be proven false.

Is it really too much to ask that the Obama admin. acknowledge Abdulrahman's death and either (A) apologize for accidentally killing a US civilian or (B) if the killing was intentional, say why it was carried out?
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Old 02-05-2013, 11:51 PM   #21
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Ahhhh. Thank you, Rob.

Reg, what if the U.S. citizen hasn't become a part of the terrorist group? What if the U.S. citizen, I'll call him Bill, is a jeweler. He went into their building after receiving a call from them to show them his wares. Of course, because the jewelry was a present for the leader of the group, no one was speaking in plain language, but it was all hush hush and the phone call could be interpreted in soooo many ways to mean Bill had something the terrorists wanted to further their agenda. Bill, being a businessman willing to go after the sale, met them at their place, showed him his jewelry, and they chose a necklace. Sale made. Gift given but then the rest of the members of the group thought it was such a great necklace they all wanted jewelry and called him back. And so Bill went back time and again to show and deliver jewelry. The intelligence agents had gotten his phone logs when he first entered the building and knew he was obviously up to no good because he was "selling wares to the enemy". So they had his phone tapped and him under constant surveillance. His repeated return to said enemy's building supported their hunch his jewelry business was a front for terrorist activity. And what if Bill was invited to dinner by the group because they liked that person? And what if Bill had nothing to do with the planning to kill U.S. citizens, didn't even know the group of apparent businessmen were part of a terrorist organization, but was seen by the intelligence agents as being implicated in terrorist activities? And now, because they are there a lot, they must be high up, especially after that party that was thrown for them where the comments outside the door while the terrorist was shaking Bill's hand was, "you are number one now. You will be here tomorrow, yes?"

No, can't have due process getting in the way. Just kill him. He is obviously a high up in the terrorist organization. After all, intelligence agencies never make any mistakes.

There is a big difference between a businessman looking into a professional business transaction and a person going to a terrorist training camp and spending time there learning the ways to kill, or actively scouting civilian and military terror targets.
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Old 02-05-2013, 11:57 PM   #22
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Is it really too much to ask that the Obama admin. acknowledge Abdulrahman's death and either (A) apologize for accidentally killing a US civilian or (B) if the killing was intentional, say why it was carried out?
I don't think so,either. However, we don't know what else is going on around this, what operation(s) may still be in play.
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Old 02-06-2013, 12:01 AM   #23
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There is a big difference between a businessman looking into a professional business transaction and a person going to a terrorist training camp and spending time there learning the ways to kill, or actively scouting civilian and military terror targets.
I agree.
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Old 02-06-2013, 12:03 AM   #24
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What case would their be for bombing the hell out of only terrorists (or whoever) without US passports? IMHO the law in or outside of the country should be blind. The action should be warranted or not.
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Old 02-06-2013, 12:16 AM   #25
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It's a difficult question. There has always been an understanding that the rules are different in wartime that peacetime. But those rules developed during a time when our present situation was not, and probably could not have been foreseen

We're not at war, but we're not at peace, either. There is a national Islamic movement including citizens of the UK, France, Germany, the US, African and Arabic nations, etc. Loosely affiliated bands exist all over the world, with the goal to cause harm to governments who oppose them and to kill civilians, especially Americans.

They are often based in places where the governments either are incapable of dealing with them (Mali, Somali, etc.,) or are not particularly interested in controlling them for their own reasons or are afraid of inflaming their numerous supporters. (Pakistan) We cannot capture these people unless we are willing to invade every country on earth.

No wants a situation where the president, any president, can unilaterally decide who is an enemy of the US and have them killed.

But neither do we want terrorists of any nationality to exist in safe havens, immune to attack, spending every waking moment devising ways to kill innocent people for political purposes.

Unless you are one of those who believes the US is on the verge of a fascist (or commie/socialist) tyrannical dictatorship, there's no reason to believe we are indiscriminately killing people. I have confidence that the vast majority of people targeted are, indeed, terrorists who quite simply are a deadly enemy.

I'm also confident that mistakes are sometimes made – just as in a traditional declared war, innocents are sometimes bombed by mistake.

There is no perfect answer. But I think what we are currently doing is a reasonable response to an impossible situation.
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