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United States Government Security The Courts The Military Politics

Court Releases DOJ Memo Justifying Drone Strike On US Citizen 371

Posted by samzenpus
from the new-rules dept.
An anonymous reader writes in with news that the memo presenting a case for killing Anwar al-Awlaki has been released thanks to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Monday released a secret 2010 Justice Department memo justifying the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S citizen killed in a drone strike in 2011. The court released the document as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by The New York Times and the American Civil Liberties Union to make the document public. Then-acting Assistant Attorney General David Barron, in the partially redacted 41-page memo, outlines the justification of the drone strike in Yemen to take out al-Awlaki, an alleged operational leader of al Qaeda.
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Court Releases DOJ Memo Justifying Drone Strike On US Citizen

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  • by Assmasher (456699) on Monday June 23, 2014 @05:42PM (#47301199) Journal

    ...amendments to the Constitution?

    Obama is turning out to be just as bad as the Neo-Cons when it comes to "protecting us from ourselves."

  • Re:Lovely Latin (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ArcadeMan (2766669) on Monday June 23, 2014 @05:51PM (#47301267)

    The history of warfare is subdivided into three phases: retribution, anticipation, and diplomacy. Thus, retribution: “I’m going to kill you because you killed my brother.” Anticipation: “I’m going to kill you because I killed your brother.” And diplomacy: “I’m going to kill my brother and then kill you on the pretext that your brother did it.”

  • Re:Yeah sure (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 23, 2014 @06:01PM (#47301337)

    The poor, rednecks, country folk, bible thumpers, etc that you try to make fun of using the derisive term "'Merica" are the very ones who are quickest to shed their own blood so that you can live in a nation where you are free to be an ass.

  • Re:Yeah sure (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 23, 2014 @06:42PM (#47301743)

    The poor, rednecks, country folk, bible thumpers, etc that you try to make fun of using the derisive term "'Merica" are the very ones who are quickest to shed their own blood

    They are willing to do this because they are stupid.

    Their willingness to go to a country which HAS NOT ATTACKED THE UNITED STATES
    and kill people in that country is not a noble thing, all it proves is that these people are
    willing chumps for the swine who run the military industrial complex.

    Your bullshit about how these people who sign up to die useless deaths are "keeping
    the US free" is a lie only an idiot would believe or try to pass off as true.

    I watched dozens of my buddies die in a little place called Viet Nam, and none of those deaths
    made America free. The same goes for all those who died in Iraq, Afghanistan, or anywhere else
    the US has had military adventures in the past 40 years.

    You are an idiot and you are full of shit. Do us all a favor and go hang yourself.

  • by sumdumass (711423) on Monday June 23, 2014 @08:02PM (#47302331) Journal

    You should find it fascinating. Outside of moral grounds, there are bonds that empower the government of the US that also places limits on the government. One of those limits is the right to due process when you are in US jurisdiction. A US citizen is in US jurisdiction wherever they are. A terrorist or even a school teacher who looks like a terrorist in another country might not be. Put those same people in the US, and they have the same right to due process.

    Now right may be the wrong words here. The bonds that empower the federal government, the Constitution, forbids the government from denying due process to "we the people" except in a narrow window in which habeas corpus can be suspended- but that requires custody of the person and does not allow extrajudicial punishment outside of holding a person.

    So no matter how contrived they can make an excuse to execute a foreigner on foreign soil, the government is expressly forbidden to do so on a US citizen who has not been afforded due process or is not showing an imminent threat to others. Of course in one of these instances, it seems to be collateral damage. It would be like a cop shooting at a suspect shooting other people and in the process killing a citizen with a stray bullet 2 blocks away. Not a criminal act, but the state is still responsible.

  • Re:Yeah sure (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dnavid (2842431) on Monday June 23, 2014 @09:21PM (#47302853)

    "Alleged" operational leader. No trial. Bam! You're dead.

    Welcome to Soviet USA.

    I don't think this particular situation is quite so simple. If Anwar al-Awlaki had joined the military of a country that had declared war on the United States, there would be no reasonable expectation of him being entitled to a criminal trial, because he would not be strictly speaking a criminal: he would be an enemy combatant, and furthermore no longer even an American citizen (since you cannot remain a US citizen while serving in the military of another country). The question is whether joining a paramilitary terrorist organization like Al Qaeda that isn't directly affiliated with a recognized nation-state triggers the same situation. He voluntarily made his affiliations public and also actively advocated violent acts against the United States and its citizens. I would myself like to know what evidence the government had that he posed a legitimate ongoing threat against the country, but I don't think its reasonable to try in abstentia every single member of al-Qaeda before lethal force can be used against them.

    We are supposed to make the presumption that even when the burden is high, all suspected criminals are entitled to a fair trial before they are punished by the government for their alleged crimes. But there have always been two exceptions to that presumption that most people find reasonable. The first is that law enforcement may use force, including lethal force, to interrupt a crime in process. We assume the burden of proof is relaxed in that environment, because its literally impossible to adjudicate a fair trial in the middle of a crime. And the second are acts of war, where the government can act against declared enemies of the country. We can't hold a trial for each individual enemy soldier we come across before shooting at them. The question is whether al-Qaeda is a criminal organization or a political one that can be legitimately considered a national enemy.

    Of course, even in times of war we do not generally assassinate the political leaders of the enemy; there is a notion that even an enemy country has a civilian population and a military. But its unclear to me that rule generally applies to al-Qaeda, as they do not have very much non-military infrastructure (besides financing). I would be uncomfortable with targeting al-Qaeda lawyers or bankers or spokespersons. But I'm not particularly disturbed by targeting of people directly involved in the planning or execution of terrorist activities.

    I recognize that's not a particularly popular opinion, and its more nuanced than can easily be articulated. For example, I don't consider the Boston bombers to be anything but (alleged) criminals entitled to the full legal rights of the legal system. Unless contradictory information becomes known, whether they committed a terrorist act and whether they sympathize with or even claim membership in a terrorist organization, if there's no proof they were actually acting as agents of that organization, any US citizen acting within the borders of the United States is still entitled to full legal rights no matter how heinous their alleged acts. I just don't think al-Awlaki acted in a manner consistent with being entitled to those same protections.

  • Re:Yeah sure (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ultranova (717540) on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @05:04AM (#47304487)

    But he wasn't killed for being a criminal, he was killed for being a threat. This is the point. You try criminals, you eliminate threats.

    So who decides who's a threat? Do you have a Star Chamber for that, or do you skip such formalities and just let your president decide who eats polonium or bombs?

    I knew the US was decaying, but I didn't realize it was quite this close to the point of collapse.

    What you're suggesting though, is that if a suspect pulls out a gun and points it at a police officer than that police officer should not be allowed to shoot that suspect, because that suspect has not had a trial.

    So who did the guy have at gunpoint? Police officers aren't allowed to shoot wanted criminals walking on the street as a precaution against the possibility that they might pull a gun. And they definitely aren't allowed to decide one won't get a trial. Or at least the law doesn't allow them to; I'm beginning to suspect that means precious little in America.

    Your claim that every bombing is an "assassination" is perhaps technically accurate, but misses some subtleties in what that word implies.

    "Assasination" means you want someone dead so you kill them. Subtleties only come in as a way of lying to yourself about what you're doing.

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