Skip to comments.Judge: Feds can hide rationale for killing U.S. citizen
Posted on 04/14/2014 4:22:52 PM PDT by Oldeconomybuyer
A Bay Area federal judge says the Obama administration can keep secret a memo spelling out the legal rationale for a 2011 drone attack in Yemen that killed a U.S. citizen and alleged terrorist mastermind.
The ruling dismissed a suit by the First Amendment Coalition, an open-government advocacy group in San Rafael. The organization sued after a September 2011 drone strike in Yemen that killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born Muslim cleric whom authorities suspected of organizing an attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner in 2009. Another U.S. citizen was also killed in the drone attack, and Awlaki's U.S.-born, 16-year-old son was killed by a drone in Yemen the following month.
(Excerpt) Read more at sfgate.com ...
It may not be a popular POV on FR, but I can find nothing in the Constitution or the laws whereby the military of the US is obliged to inquire into the citizenship of legitimate military targets before attacking.
Whether they are actually legitimate and legal targets is an entirely different question, of course, and this sort of targeted attack is certainly open to abuse. But if they are proper targets, and they are American citizens, they are traitors as well as enemies, and I’ll lose no sleep over their demise.
I'm guessing the man owned ranch land in Nevada.
I think you are confused.
These are not people killed on a battlefield, but in their homes.
I do remember the Constitution saying quite a bit about due process for citizens.
If they plan to take a human life,the least they can do is justify their actions.Anything less causes a loss of confidence among the citizens.
You better read the Constitution again. The military has NO authority to kill any US citizen who is guilty of nothing but having an asshole for a father.
These were (or at least were claimed to be) enemies of the United States at active war with us. They were attacked in a foreign country under the terms of a congressional authorization to use force, the functional equivalent of a Declaration of War.
Is there some law of war of provision of the Constitution of which I’m not aware whereby enemies aren’t to be attacked in their homes?
As I said, I have no way of determining whether these were legal targets, but if they were what do you you think the procedure for attacking them should be?
For some obscure reason, people get all bent out of shape by the use of drones. But a drone attack is no different in principle from a fighter strike, a commando attack like the one that killed Osama, or a sniper attack. If any of those are justified, then so is use of a drone.
The Constitution does not specify due process for “citizens.” It specifies, in both 5A and 14A, that “no person” is to be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process.
Since military action is by definition the opposite of due process, the condition obviously does not apply.
As I’ve said before, whether a given military strike is proper and legal is an entirely different question.
However, while I don’t know anything about how such targets are selected, I suspect explaining the process in detail would give the enemy useful intelligence.
The military claims the death of the son was collateral damage in at attack aimed at another individual. This may or may not be true, but that is the claim. \
Please cite the evidence that Al Awlaki was an active participant in battle against us.
If he was shooting at our troops, then that is clear self-defense. This was not that.
Second, threats against the government or US citizens is not justification for assassination....which is what this was....the assassination of a US citizen and his son, away from any known combat area, under the order of one man.
If that was the case, many FReepers would be eligible for assassination by this President today.
I guess you do not think such awesome power to declare a citizen “an enemy” and order their assassination should have any checks or balances.
“drone attack in Yemen”
Why is this a big fuss over a drone attack in freakin’ Yemen?!
The US government, for whatever justification, can kill foreigners whom it deems a threat. Nobody forced the “American” to live in Yemen, so it is a moot point. Don’t want to die from the hand of your gubmint? Don’t plot terrorist activities from Yemen.
If Yemen did not like it, then they could declare war on the US. In fact, I could see it being fair if Yemen had its panties up in a bunch, but why are Americans acting like it is sand up their collective vaginas?
Let it go. A terrorist “American” gets smoked in the foreign soil. Boo freakin hoo!
For all we know this "terrorist" beat "da Prez" at golf So Barry decided to get even using a hellfire missile.
The president who won a preemptive Nobel Peace Prize now cannot promise he won’t kill Americans on American soil via drone stikes.
Kinda ironic, is it not?
Was Osama actively shooting at our troops when a commando raid attacked and killed him?
Were any of the 9/11 hijackers shooting at Americans prior to their initiating the hijack? Should they therefore have been exempt from attack up until that moment?
In your world, are is the US military limited to defensive action? We’re not allowed to attack the enemy?
Has any military operation of the USA ever had anything resembling due process proceedings for enemies, or have they just been located and attacked as possible? Before attacking enemy forces in WWII, due we carefully screen thru them to make sure there weren’t any US citizens among them?
OK, that last one’s a little hyperbolic. But the point remains. These guys are continuously plotting attacks on Americans. Doesn’t anybody else remember the first few days after 9/11, when we all assumed we’d have such attacks weekly or monthly?
We haven’t had those attacks. Is that because they’ve lost the desire to kill Americans, or is it because our intelligence and military have disrupted their attacks?
Can you define another way by which enemies of the United States, hiding out among the civilian population in distant lands, should be attacked? Should we invade Yemen, as we did Afghanistan and Iraq? What would that do, except cause the enemies to flee elsewhere?
I find the process disturbing, but I see no other logical method of carrying the fight to the enemy. I also see no part of the Constitution that requires the President or military to treat citizen enemies of the United States overseas differently from non-citizen enemies. If you know of such, feel free to post it.
That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.
One can make a decent argument that this functional declaration of war against "international terrorism" should be re-examined, that these powers are too great and should be subject to checks or balances, but one simply cannot claim that the President's actions aren't authorized by them in a fully Constitutional way.
To arrest me, all they have to do is drop by the house.
Do you have a similar procedure you’d like to suggest by which Awlaki could have been taken into custody?
The guy was an open and avowed enemy of the United States, a leader in the group that launched 9/11, yet we’re not supposed to attack him in the same way we’ve attacked our other enemies for almost 250 years?
Sounds to me like your argument is not with the method of attack here, or whether he’s a citizen or not, it’s with the president exercising his war powers as duly authorized by the Constitution and by Congress in a functional Declaration of War.
AFAIK, these methods are only authorized for use outside the US, specifically in countries where the local authorities are not able to arrest and extradite. Their use inside the country, where other methods are available, would I suspect be neither wise nor legal.
If an American citizen can be legally and properly taken out by a sniper, as in a hostage standoff situation, then he can be legally and properly killed by a drone strike. The weapon used is immaterial. The legal issues are exactly the same.
Very scary....link it to Obama AND the Dems,,100%
Patriot: Citizens can hide rationale for killing U.S. Judges.
Wonder how that would work...
Doesn’t it depend on who is issuing the hit? I don’t think that’s the same at all.
Agreed. One commentor talked about them being in ‘their homes’. BS. Americans fighting/planning for Al Qaeda or its affiliates outside of the US are fair game because terrorism is a state of war without all the niceties of a formal declaration of war.
If they are demonstratively our enemies, then we have every right to kill them wherever they are. If they bring their kiddies along for the show, tough shit. That’s why someone created the word “collateral damage”, just to fit situations like this.
Besides, taking you kids into a war zone is an act of “child abuse”, something that Moslem fanatics are good at.
Many moons ago, the US developed the legal concept of the “long arm” law/reach. It was designed to enable the government/law enforcement to go outside of American borders in order to get the bad guys.
Today it exists in partially modified form, i.e., using Interpol warrants and world War Crimes tribunals as authorities sanctioning this tactic (esp. for Yugoslavia war criminals).
Israel used it in kidnapping mass murderer Adolf Eichmann from Argentina so he could stand trial in Israel for WW2 genocide. Would you really have expected Argentina, the home of many Nazis/war criminals protected by the fascist family of the Perons and their successors, to hand over Eichmann or any other Nazi War Criminal? Don’t think so. They wouldn’t betray their friends and bribery donors.
I actually prefer the old WW2/post WW2 tactic some British commandos used on Nazi war criminals in Europe. Hunt them down and kill them. Two to the head and walk away.
Worked for them. Works for me.
This is ruling addresses a very specific scenario.
Obama administration can keep secret a memo spelling out the legal rationale for a 2011 drone attack
A memo. It addresses a MEMO. Please keep it in perspective.
BINGO. This is an ACT you can actually cite to for authority and precedence (if necessary).
It is pretty clear and specific. It doesn’t say take out the Mime in Paris. It says to get terrorists who are fighting against the U.S.
C’est le difference!
By the police maybe.
Non-combatants not engaged in combat are NOT targets of opportunity within our own borders.
All of America is not a war zone.
I said legal.
I have an idea! Let’s stop importing muslims and we won’t have to worry about their citizenship.
I would probably tend to agree with you if your definition if traitor was being used, and there was oversight.
But give captain 0 the authority to name who is combatant and the basis with no ability to hold him accountable is beyond creepy.
Remember, Holder claims that POTUS has the authority to kill US citizens in the US without due process.
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Judge: Feds can hide rationale for killing U.S. citizen
Transparency is the enemy of The State!
You know, people like: returning veterans, libertarians, states rights proponents, and people who think abortion is morally wrong.
“the functional equivalent of a Declaration of War.”
My copy of the Constitution doesn’t say a word about “functional equivalents”. I’d suggest you return the one you have to whomever sold it to you, get your money back, and purchase a correct one.
Whole lot of judges needs a little re-edumacation or serious ass whoopings.
Please show me the constitutional mandate that allows US citizens to be assassinated because they are on foreign soil, but would not allow it on domestic soil.
(Nearly) unanimous Congressional Resolution: "the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001"
Notice the Resolution says "persons," not "non-citizens." This Resolution mirrors the congressional authorization to use force given Adams in 1798. A good many of the Founders being involved in its production.
BTW, anytime Congress decides to it can rescind its authorization.
Please show me the constitutional requirement that military forces of the United States must inquire into the citizenship status of an active enemy of the Unites States before engaging him with deadly force.
Does it make sense to you that any active enemy who holds US citizenship and manages to make it to an area of the world where they cannot be reached using traditional law enforcement means should be untouchable?
In your opinion, if you as a citizen happen to be near a suspected terrorist, it's completely OK for you to be killed? What does it take to designate a foreign national as a terrorist? Could anyone be designated a terrorist? Couldn't then anyone be considered "collateral damage"?
Actually, the father was a naturalized citizen and an al Quaeda leader. He was the target of an intentional attack.
His 16 year old natural-born American citizen son was killed as collateral damage in a later attack aimed at another terrorist.
What does it take to be designated a terrorist? I suggest you read the congressional resolution authorizing use of force against anyone the President determines to be involved in the 9/11 attacks or planning similar attacks.
I am probably as disturbed as you by the potential for abuse in such power, but I am curious about what you would recommend as an alternative process for waging war against terrorists. Or should we just ignore them till they attack us, and only then hit back?
Collateral damage is a risk in any military operation. In WWII, at least in theory, we killed hundreds of thousands as collateral damage. Should we have never bombed Germany or Japan because such attacks inevitably involved the killing of thousands of perfectly innocent people?
And, yeah, I think people who hang out with terrorists should run increased risk of death. Don’t want to be blown up? Don’t hang around with terrorists.
I realize a lot of y’all are disturbed by the image of an American president authorizing targeted strikes on American citizens overseas. You feel it should be unconstitutional or illegal in some way.
The problem is that conservatives don’t believe in a Constitution that means what we think it should mean, we believe in one that says what it actually says. Which means quotation of the section that prohibits American military forces, at the direction of the Commander in Chief, authorized to do so by Congress, from attacking enemies if they happen to be US citizens.
I don’t know of any such provision. Feel free to post it, if you do.
Did this guys son aid, abet, or plan the attack that occurred on 9-11?
Limited information, but from what I’ve seen the kid wasn’t involved in 9/11, since he was probably something like 5 years old at the time, although it’s entirely possible he was planning to follow Dad into the family business. However, they weren’t shooting at the kid when he was killed, they were shooting at another guy.
In almost any military attack, there is a good bit of risk of hitting bystanders. Our present methods of attack, such as drone strikes, actually cause a great deal less collateral damage than strikes of the WWII variety, when we’d destroy entire cities. Were the hundreds of thousands or millions of innocents killed by us during WWII murdered, or were they the unintended consequences of a battle that had to be fought?
So the question becomes one of whether legitimate military targets should be able to effectively immunize themselves against attack by surrounding themselves with innocents. Does that strike you as a wise military policy?
Osama was at home with a wife or two when the Seals raided. Should they have aborted the attack because innocents would be put at risk? In actual fact, a woman was killed during the raid, the wife of one of Osama’s associates. Was her death an improper use of force?
As far as drone strikes or other military use of force on US soil, let’s imagine a Mumbai-style or Beslan-style attack here. Multiple heavily armed terrorists, ongoing murder of Americans, etc.
Would it be improper to use military forces to counter a military assault on Americans? Why?
Let’s further assume some or all of the attackers are or may be US citizens. Is there any reason the response to them should be any different than for an attack by a group we know consists solely of non-citizens?
Which is not to say these powers are not dangerous to put into anybody’s hands, and that I’m not nervous with them where they presently are. Only that the purpose of the military is to protect Americans, and if a military-style assault is launched on American soil, it makes perfect sense to use military force in response.
I think that it's intellectually myopic to argue that this administration has the legitimate authority to pursue and kill those Al-Qaeda terrorists when the administration is at the same time arming Al-Qaeda terrorists.
I think you’re confusing legal authority and moral authority.
Under the 2001 Congressional Authorization to Use Force I think their legal authority is impeccably constitutional.
With regard to their moral authority you may very well be right.
However, it’s also not unreasonable to point out that we are (probably) supporting groups who are fighting Assad in Syria. He and his family’s regime have been undisputed enemies of America and supporters of terrorism for decades.
There are no groups in Syria right now that most Americans would consider to be “the good guys,” with possible exception of groups with little support from any actual Syrians.
So we have the option of just staying completely out of the mess there, or supporting groups that are more or less objectionable. The staying-out option, of course, leaving the territory fully open to Russian, Iranian or Chinese influence.
We allied ourselves with Stalin for 4 years to defeat Hitler, and we supported creeps like Somoza for decades to defeat Communism. It doesn’t seem unreasonable that we might similarly support groups we don’t like in the Middle East.
Heck, speaking of allying with distasteful folks, almost the first thing we did as a nation was ally ourselves with the French, an absolute monarchy, though in general a fairly benevolent one, to fight a constitutional monarchy that was, aside from ourselves, the freest nation on earth.