License to Kill

Obama - Barry Obama 00Zero

Obama – Barry Obama 00Zero

Business Insider:

Here’s When It’s Legal To Kill An American Citizen With A Drone

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has released a secret Obama administration memorandum detailing the legal justification for a 2011 drone strike in Yemen that killed Anwar al-Awlaki, an al-Qaida leader born in the U.S.

The memo concludes that al-Awlaki’s citizenship would not preclude the U.S. from “taking lethal action” against him, based on facts about the case submitted by the CIA, Department of Defense, and intelligence community. This summation of legality is predicated on the U.S. government’s declaration of al-Awlaki as an “operational leader” of an “enemy force” โ€” al Qaeda.

Here’s the rationale, as summarized by Reuters:

The memo, prepared by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, says that because the U.S. government considered al Awlaki to be an “operational leader” of an “enemy force,” it would be legal for the CIA to attack him with a drone “as part of the United States’ ongoing non-international armed conflict with al Qaeda,” even though he was a U.S. citizen.

The memo also says the killing of al Awlaki by U.S. military forces would be legal under an authorization for the use of U.S. military force approved by Congress following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.

According to the memo, a U.S. citizen like al-Awlaki would be protected by the Fifth Amendment’s due-process clause, as well as the Fourth Amendment, even while he is abroad. But the memo states a “decision-maker,” such as President Barack Obama, could “reasonably conclude” that al-Awlaki’s actions posed a “continued” and “imminent” threat to the United States.

“In addition to the nature of the threat posed by al-Aulaqi’s activities, both agencies here have represented that they intend to capture rather than target al-Aulaqi if feasible; yet we also understand that an operation by either agency to capture al-Aulaqi in Yemen would be infeasible at this time,” the memo reads.


Citing from the Supreme Court case Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, Barron wrote that “the realities of combat” render certain uses of force “necessary and appropriate,” including against U.S. citizens who have become part of enemy forces โ€”and that “due process analysis need not blink at those realities.

There is so much wrong in this story I don’t know where to begin.

I guess I should start by pointing out that this memo has no legal authority. It is merely the opinion of one or more White House lawyers. Other lawyers could disagree. As a matter of fact, this lawyer here does, and my opinion has just as much legal authority as theirs (i.e. none).

I can still remember when Democrats were up in arms about the “Torture memos” written by John Yoo. Progressives called the memos evidence of a war crime. I agree with that assessment.

I don’t expect them to react the same way to this “assassination memo” since it was authored by someone in the Obama White House. Lots of Republicans were okay with torture and they are okay with presidential assassination orders too so they won’t say much either.

Having principles and consistently sticking to them often makes you a lone voice howling in the wilderness. That’s okay, I don’t care for crowds anyway.

The easiest way to point out the flaw in the memo’s reasoning is to ask under what scenario would the police be justified in preemptive homicide of a criminal suspect. Under the law there are certain situations where the police could shoot a suspect:

a. Police may use deadly force to protect themselves or others from what they reasonably believe to be an immediate threat of death or serious physical injury.

b. Police may use deadly force to affect the capture or prevent the escape of a suspect where the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant and immediate threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.(Fleeing Felon Rule)

I tried to think of examples where police opened fire without warning on a suspect who was not an imminent threat and the only examples I could come up with were:

1. Pat Garrett shooting Billy the Kid in the back.

2. Melvin Purvis gunning down John Dillinger.

3. Six officers ambushing and killing Bonnie and Clyde.

Compare this to the drone assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki. As far as we know, al-Awlaki was unarmed and not an immediate or imminent threat to anyone. He was having breakfast in Yemen when he was killed. Two weeks later we whacked his 16 year old son too. In both cases other people (“suspected al Qaeda terrorists”) were killed as well.

So what exactly did these people do that deserved their assassinations? Were any of them guilty of one or more capital crimes? Do we kill anyone who says “Death to America” or do we need something more substantial?

Was a warrant ever issued for the arrest of al-Awlaki? If so, what were the charges? What if the Obama administration had announced that al-Awlaki was wanted for certain crimes and gave him a chance to surrender peacefully? Did they try that option?

What is the process for issuing a presidential death warrant? Is there any kind of oversight or review? With this administration there is no point in asking if there is any accountability. The process and the evidence are all top secret. We have to trust that the power of life and death will not be abused.

Quite frankly, I would not trust ANY president with that kind of power – especially Obama. I would rather rely on the rule of law.


About Myiq2xu - BA, JD, FJB

I was born and raised in a different country - America. I don't know what this place is.
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82 Responses to License to Kill

  1. DeniseVB says:

    This is more like Bush’s 4th term, yet the peace loving hippies are silent. Shame on them.

    • r u reddy says:

      The peace loving hippies are noisy over at Counterpunch and Naked Capitalism.

      • DeniseVB says:

        Last I checked on my old friends they were mumbling about Banning the Nuke again. Hope they’re coming around, it’s their country too.

  2. 49erDweet says:

    Arghhhhh!!!!! There is so much wrong with that memo – and mindset – that you almost need multiple tracked posts to do justice to it.
    “Facts” from the CIA? ROFL
    “Armed”? Not much chance of hitting anybody from Yemen.
    “Immediate threat”? Eyeroll.
    “Son”? Homicide.
    “Other victims”? First Class Operational Fubar.

    I’m ready for the Rule of Law to be applied to the resident at 1600. His turn.

  3. leslie says:

    Just saying. Bronco would have liked this idea if he had thought of it first.

  4. gumsnapper says:

    The obots are against waterboarding terrorists and prefer killing them outright, even if they happen to be American citizens.

    • lyn says:

      That’s right … as long as their dear leader does it.

    • swanspirit says:

      Exactly ! Torture bad ! not OK ! Impeachable offense ! Horrible Awful We DON”T TORTURE

      Assassination of a U.S. citizen ? Perfectly alright ,hunky dory and A OK as long as Obama does it . He can blow you into pink mist , we don’t mind . Isn’t he cool under pressure and all?

      • r u reddy says:

        Obama has made too much money for too many rich people for them to ever permit their government to impeach their Obama. They still expect some more money to be made into the future by his remaining actions in office. So . . . no Impeachment. The Republicans have their orders as well as the Democrats.

  5. Lulu says:

    Next they will say “He deserved killing.” That is the barbarous and uncivilized, tribalistic and fundamentalist brain of the so called Prog. There is so law but their brain farts.

  6. The Klown says:

    I actually got a RT from the Moscow Times

  7. angienc says:

    This lawyer here disagrees too, FTR.

    However, I did not think the Yoo torture memo was *proof* of war crimes — it was a legal opinion memo. This memo isn’t a crime either — killing US citizens with drones without due process and off of the battle field is the crime.

    • 49erDweet says:

      And the BBC is saying they have all been released. Again.

      • DeniseVB says:

        I haven’t been online that much today, but have seen the only concerns for her coming from Sarah and Cruz. And my favorites, the rightwinggunnuts…..send in a platoon of Marines to escort her out of the country!

  8. foxyladi14 says:

    So sad

  9. The Klown says:

    My tomatoes are coming in like gangbusters right now. Since I love tomatoes I am not sharing very many but since I can only eat so many a day I am dehydrating them in the oven. Cut into quarters (or smaller if the pieces are really large), lay skin side down on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with a little coarse ground garlic and a tiny bit of coarse sea salt (or kosher salt) and then bake at 180-200 degrees for 6-8 hours.


    I made myself a roast beef sandwich and put a few dried tomatoes on it and it was great. They smell awesome. I could eat them like candy.

    • DeniseVB says:

      Jealous ! What is your secret to growing tomatoes? I guess living in the world’s Salad Bowl helps ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • cynic says:

      Ooh, yum, I did that last year, and ate the whole pan full. We’re still at least six weeks away from having garden ripe ones. And you’re absolutely correct. They do smell wonderful. I used cloves of garlic with mine.

    • Constance says:

      You guys make me sick. Here in Seattle we are lucky to get a few ripe tomatoes per bush by September. The only recourse is growing those little cherry tomatoes.

      • 49erDweet says:

        Sorry. Salad bowls are nice. But this year we’re having a bumper crop of Ollalieberries, and if we had tomatoes, too, the granddaughter would be playing in the road.

      • cynic says:

        The local garden club that I belong to, holds a tomato taste testing. Once, we had 26 varieties. The Sungold cherry tomato wins consistently. I’ve grown it for the last 12 years, and it’s the first one to ripen.

  10. The Klown says:

    U.S. Archivist: IRS “Did Not Follow The Law” On Lerner Emails:

    • leslie says:

      I wonder what that means in terms of whether the emails are still archived. Or ever were.
      IANAL or very smart I guess, but I am wondering if they ever archived her emails or if they stopped archiving her emails once the decision was made to target the Tea Party or groups that supported the GOP.

      • Somebody says:

        My understanding from an IRS source is that this should be routine. If they weren’t archived, if the federal records laws were not followed then someone made a conscious decision NOT to follow the laws. Someone committed a criminal act and a firing offense.

  11. DeniseVB says:

    So all our foreign and domestic problems must be solved today. Just saw that Obama’s playing golf today, maybe with Tiger Woods?

    • The Klown says:

      That fucker is totally shameless.

      • Lulu says:

        I get the feeling that he is getting as many goodies in as he can before he rides off into the sunset. I know I sound crazy but I think he may resign rather than deal with a Republican House AND Senate. Going into a snit quitting and then say I’m too good for this and I didn’t sign up for this shit. I have seen people go crazy with perks, stunts, and screwing up right before they scoot in real life. It is adolescent defiance mentality.

        • DeniseVB says:

          Certainly could explain why he has Biden and Kerry trotting all over the world to the hot spots. Biden/Kerry ? Biden/HRClinton? Biden/Warren? Sets them up for a slamdunk for 2016. If they’re smart, put their money on Biden/Booker and they’ll have a lock for several more terms ๐Ÿ™‚

          He’s already hinted at his fundraisers that it will be impossible to be President if the GOP takes back the Senate and keeps the House. I don’t think he cares, in fact, it’s almost like he’s forcing them to impeach him so he can resign.

          • Constance says:

            Biden/Warren is probably a pretty good bet. I think they have to put a woman on the ticket because a lot of the women Dems think that since they stood down and let a black man take the nomination in 2008 it is women’s turn in 2016. I’m sure that is not what the Kennedy/Obot wing of the party ever intended. And who knows are the remaining women Dems smart enough to stand up and demand their turn or will they just be content to wander around experiencing outrage over abortion and birth control (which have been legal for 40 years), rape (which has always been illegal) and female genital mutilation which affects far less American woman than the current issues of lack of women reps in government, distorted images of women in media, unequal medical coverage……..

        • elliesmom says:

          If he leaves, it will be because we are too racist for a black man to lead us. But he won’t be a “quitter”.

  12. The Klown says:
  13. The Klown says:
  14. The Klown says:

    Bill Maher Tells Jon Stewart Why Obama’s Religious Faith Is ‘Bullshit’:

  15. The Klown says:

    I’m an independent and I don’t live in Mississippi so I don’t have a dog in the fight, but I generally root for challengers over incumbents so I am rooting for Bad Thad Cochran to lose tonight.

  16. Janet Erwin says:

    Klown says: “1. Pat Garrett shooting Billy the Kid in the back.”

    New Mexican says: Garrett didn’t shoot the Kid in the back, but he did shoot from ambush–SOP for that coward.

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