Photo: Barack Obama / Flickr
From Wilmer J Leon III, Truthout | Op-Ed:
“In an interview in 2007, then-senator Barack Obama said, ‘The president does not have power under the constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.’ He went on to say, ‘I reject the Bush administration’s claim that the president has plenary authority under the constitution to detain US citizens without charges as unlawful enemy combatants.’ In 2013, Americans are facing a president with a different mindset.
A recently leaked white paper is providing insight into the legal justifications for the Obama administration’s ‘targeted killing’ program. The paper asserts that ‘high-leve'” government officials can ‘use lethal force in a foreign country … against a US citizen who is a senior operational leader of al-Qa’ida or an associated force … actively engaged in planning operations to kill Americans.’ This legal framework also explains how lethal force can be used even if the ‘high-level’ government officials do not have ‘clear evidence that a specific attack on US persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.’
In September 2011, the administration used drone strikes to kill alleged al-Qaeda operatives Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan. Al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was also killed by a drone strike. All three were US citizens, and none of them had been indicted by the US government for any crimes. According to The Guardian, ‘the drone program now is run out of the White House, where [nominee to head the CIA John] Brennan, the president’s most trusted counterterror adviser, helps Obama pick the targets.’
The rationale behind the administration’s ‘assassination by drone’ program sounds eerily reminiscent to former VP Dick Cheney’s ‘1 percent doctrine.’ Cheney believed the so-called war on terror empowered the Bush administration to invade sovereign countries and violate Americans’ civil liberties without the need for evidence or extensive analysis. The facts did not matter.”