NBC News has obtained the White House Justice Dept. memo that attempts to rationalize the legal authority for the murder of U.S. citizens without due process. Actually, without any rights guaranteed to every American citizen by the Constitution. The White House claims authority based upon such a broad basis filled with vague, loosely defined terms, that it cannot even be explained as to where the boundaries lie. You can read the memo yourself here – http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/msnbc/sections/news/020413_DOJ_White_Paper.pdf – or just scroll to the bottom for a quick overview.
The circumstances for the legal framework are these. The U.S. Government has the authority to use lethal force against a U.S. citizen if they are a senior operational leader of al-Qa’ida, or an associated force, who is actively engaged in operations to kill Americans. This is supposed to be in a foreign country outside the area of active hostilities. The rest of the memo is directed at breaking down that legal framework to rationalize authority much more broadly.
They cite these three conditions as prerequisites. An informed, high-level official of the U.S. Government (no explanation of what the minimum for that is) has determined that a violent attack against the U.S. is “imminent”. That capture is infeasible. That “law of war” principles apply.
Here is what the memo doesn’t even attempt to do.
No explanation of what defines “an operation” to kill Americans. Could it be an e-mail or letter or other social media correspondence? We don’t know. Could it be eavesdropping? Merely overhearing a conversation? No idea and no attempt to outline it.
No explanation of the definition of a battlefield to differentiate between an area inside or outside an area of active hostilities. The memo explains that we are involved in a “non-international” armed conflict with al-Qa’ida. Since al-Qa’ida is not a nation, any legal requirements for a foreign country do not apply. Basically, they have given themselves the authority to kill an American right here on our home soil far away from any al-Qa’ida operation.
No explanation of what “imminent” is except to say that no clear evidence at all is required to make that determination. No really, that’s what it says.
It goes on and on justifying why your fourth amendment and fifth amendment rights do not apply when they decide they don’t. So let me make an attempt to shorten up the memo to just one sentence in the interest of not wasting our valuable time.
An unidentified bureaucrat can arbitrarily determine that a U.S. citizen located anywhere in the world can be executed without any rights based upon some unverified intelligence that says they are affiliated with al-Qa’ida or some offshoot of it in a leadership position involved in an unverifiable potential plot against America that may occur at some unknown time or place.
Remember that Obama believes the Constitution is a “charter of negative liberties”. Silly things like rights and due process are so yesterday you know.