Here’s the report from Associated Press:
U.S. citizens are legitimate military targets when they take up arms with al-Qaida, top national security lawyers in the Obama administration said Thursday.
The lawyers were asked at a national security conference about the CIA killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen and leading al-Qaida figure. He died in a Sept. 30 U.S. drone strike in the mountains of Yemen.
The government lawyers, CIA counsel Stephen Preston and Pentagon counsel Jeh Johnson, did not directly address the al-Awlaki case. But they said U.S. citizens do not have immunity when they are at war with the United States.
Jeh Johnson is Obama’s nominee to direct the Department of Homeland Security. According to radio reports I heard, his first name is pronounced “jay.”
Washington’s blog points out:
This is particularly concerning since the U.S. wants to expand the assassination program to cover “ASSOCIATES of ASSOCIATES” of Al Qaeda … and blurs the lines between bad guys and average Americans. This violates a little thing called the Fifth Amendment.
Given the rule about taking “up arms with Al Qaeda,” one might think Johnson was targeting (not literally on his part) the Executive branch. But the story goes on to stipulate,
Johnson said only the executive branch, not the courts, is equipped to make military battlefield targeting decisions about who qualifies as an enemy.
I can’t envision that he meant for Obama to put himself on his own kill list. I have to assume that he means that Obama can target other people. Would that include others in the State Department or CIA, or only those in other branches of government, like a Senator giving aid and comfort and arms to terrorists who abduct Christians? (For all McCain knows he posed with terrorists who eat hearts and rape Christians; I am only mentioning what has been confirmed.)
Of course, you and I both know Johnson is completely convinced in his own mind that he has said nothing of the kind. When he speaks of people taking up arms with Al Qaeda he has a bunch of exceptions in mind that allow him to give the US government a pass. In reality he thinks the US government always has good reasons for arming and supporting terrorists. Only the people who don’t really matter get put on kill lists.
But I think anyone outside the Federal Masters club knows those rationalizations are simply elitist posturing. The position is undeniable. If you say that the Executive Branch can kill people who take up arms with Al Qaeda, and the government is arming and aiding Al Qaeda, then you are saying that the Executive Branch can kill them without trial.
Interesting to see a guy who has been at the forefront of defending drone assassinations of American citizens be nominated to guard the “homeland.” Since DHS is investing in increasing numbers of drones, I’m curious about what tactics he plans to use. Does this mean DHS will work more closely with the NSA?
Yet when I listened to the radio news this morning, I only heard that Republicans objected to the nomination because he had been an Obama fund raiser. This is too important a post for a mere fundraiser.
Really? The guy even argues that the President cannot be questioned when he targets the teen who is guilty of nothing except not having a “more responsible father,” and that’s the only pushback from Republicans? I am hoping that the radio report was biased and/or incomplete.