Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

February 6, 2013

“The Department assumes the rights afforded by the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, as well as the Fourth Amendment, attach to a U.S. Citizen even while he is abroad.”

Filed under: Legal Issues,Radicalization,Terrorist Threats & Attacks — by Philip J. Palin on February 6, 2013

As you have probably already seen, Michael Isikoff at NBC News has obtained a Justice Department white paper that argues under what conditions it is lawful for the government to kill a US citizen.

You can download and read the entire document here:  020413_DOJ_White_Paper

The Department of Justice authors conclude, “that where certain conditions are met, a lethal operation against a U.S. citizen who is a senior operational leader of al-Qa’ida or its associated forces — a terrorist organization engaged in constant plotting against the United States — would not violate the Constitution.  The paper also includes an analysis concluding that such an operation would not violate certain criminal provisions prohibiting the killing of U.S. nationals outside the United States…”

The leaked document is only sixteen pages long.  It is thought to  summarize much more extensive legal briefs and studies.  It is worth your careful read before any of us begin our own analysis and commentary.

Here’s the original NBC News story:  Legal Case for Drone Strikes

Here’s a follow-on NBC News report on various reactions to the leaked report:  Legal Experts Fear Implications of Drone Memo


According to the New York Times — an many other media — “The White House on Wednesday directed the Justice Department to release to the two Congressional Intelligence Committees classified documents discussing the legal justification for killing, by drone strikes and other means, American citizens abroad who are considered terrorists.”

“The White House announcement appears to refer to a long, detailed 2010 memo from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel justifying the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born cleric who had joined Al Qaeda in Yemen. He was killed in a C.I.A. drone strike in September 2011. Members of Congress have long demanded access to the legal memorandum.”

“The decision to release the legal memo to the Intelligence Committees came under pressure, two days after a bipartisan group of 11 senators joined a growing chorus asking for more information about the legal justification for targeted killings, especially of Americans.”


Further attention — if not much more insight — is available from yesterday’s Senate confirmation hearing on the nomination of John Brennan.

Writing in TIME magazine Michael Crowley offers:

In one of the hearing’s most interesting exchanges, Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine drew back further, asking Brennan whether some basic assumptions about the fight against al Qaeda should be challenged. Noting that the terror group continues to spread, Collins asked, “If the cancer of al Qaeda is metastasizing, do we need a new treatment?” Collins noted that even an experienced military official like former General Stanley McChrystal have begun wondering aloud whether America has become too reliant on drones, at the expense of breeding resentment and backlash within the Muslim world. (You can read about that and related issues in TIME’s recent drones cover story.)

“We have to be very mindful” of local reactions to drone strikes, Brennan answered. But he insisted that people in al Qaeda-infested areas have “welcomed” American strikes on terrorist leaders. It was another cautious and not terribly revealing answer. But Brennan’s response may have been less significant than the concern expressed by a senior Senator—a Republican no less—about America’s drone war. The Brennan hearing may have shed little light on Obama’s likely next CIA director. But it might have been a sign that, when it comes to our long counter-terror campaign, a long-acquiescent Congress is finally getting restless.

Mr. Brennan’s opening statement, video of the hearing and more is available from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence website.

One brief excerpt from Mr. Brennan’s opening statement:

I have publicly acknowledged that our fight against al-Qa’ida and associated forces has sometimes involved the use of lethal force outside the “hot battlefield” of Afghanistan.  Accordingly, it is understandable there is great interest in the legal basis as well as the thresholds, criteria, processes, procedures, approvals, and reviews of these actions. I have strongly promoted such public discussion with the Congress and with the American people, as I believe that our system of government and our commitment to transparency demand nothing less.

Also available at the Committee website are Mr. Brennan’s answers to several pre-hearing questions.  On pages 24-30 there are several issues raised and responded to which relate to the government’s use of lethal force against US citizens suspected of threatening the United States.

In the February 21 edition of the New York Review of Books, David Cole sets-out thirteen questions for Mr. Brennan to answer.   Happily there are meaningful overlaps between the Cole questions and those posed by the Committee.

Major media is covering the give and take during the hearing, but a video of the entire hearing is also available at the Committee’s website.

Thoughtful people have critiqued Mr. Brennan’s answers to the Committee as demonstrating how to spend hours sounding responsive and say nothing.   To my ear the answers were careful, nuanced, sometimes Talmudic.   Mr. Brennan is especially keen to remind people that, “I am not a lawyer.”  But his answers can be lawyerly.  When the issues are as complex as those under consideration qualified responses are justified.

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Comment by Christopher Tingus

February 6, 2013 @ 8:34 am

Every US citizen whether an Ambassador or three brave American Patriots or even one who seeks our demise has a Right to be protected under the Constitution and afforded one Rights and protection under the law until proven guilty.

This WH which so many of you seem to perceive as the solution to our numerous dilemmas today is so perverse, so divisive and while I would ask Justice to hang anyone seeking to subvert our beloved Republic, all have Rights as US Citizens and as We never leave our brave hearts behind as was done at the “Benghazi Massacre” and many are quite angered by the incestuousness and partisan politics on both sides of the aisle, remember the words of Frderick Douglass:

Find out just what People will submit to, and you have found the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both” –

Also, in the words of James Madison (1785), “If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be under the guise of fighting a foreign enemy. But, in reality, it will be an Enemy from within” –


in the words of Samuel Adams (1775):

“No People will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can they be easily subdued, when knowledge is wide spread and Virtue is preserved. on the Contrary, when People are unwisely ignorant, and debauched in their Manners, they will ink under their own weight without the Aid of foreign invaders” –

If you further care to read (Verse 5) Isaiah: “The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint” –

We are at peril. Hold your muskets high – for all lawful purpose – We are being besieged from within and our Constitution now tattered at its edges, God help us for all this partisan ineptness in self-serving ways does not bode well for us as a People and to those who have always looked upon as with hope in their despair, the oppressed who can now be found here on “Main Street USA” w/little genuine representation replaced by willingness to lie, to prostitute oneself in integrity by blatant lies and misinformation and lack thereof….

As Germany with its new fast deployment Army and shiny new naval vessels marches forward with the ever powerful and corrupt Vatican at its side towards Jerusalem with its Leopard tankls being sent to Qatar and Saudi Arabia and a new Confederate of Middle East States to soon ally w/Germany which is quickly filling the void of power left by a weakened America, faint in heart and little fortitude, the words of Winston Churchil echo:

“If you tell me that our party is definetly committed to the easygoing Life, to the surrender of our possessions and interests for the sake of quitness, to putting off the evil day at all costs, and that they will go along with Chamberlain into what must inevitably be a state of subservience, if not indeed actual vassalage to Germany, and that you can do nothing to arrest this fatal tide, then I think the knowledge would simplify my course” –

Nations must be ready for War and this marxist/socialist in the WH whose pledge is obviously to the likes of Hussein Obama, Bill Ayers, the Rev Wright, Soros, Ungor, Saiid and many more….a Democracy must have an arsenal and this continued effort to diminish us coupled with the faintness of heart which seemingly abounds in at least half of our populace, well, muster your arms and hold them high – for all lawful purpose – for every American must be protected under the Constitution and pledged to do so by oath of office and the first page of one’s US Passport where Ms. Hillary pledged to protect our four brave Warriors, yet left them behind….

God Bless our beloved Republic and good ‘ol Glory!

Christopher Tingus
PO Box 1612
Hawrich (Cape Cod), MA 02645 USA
skype: christopher.tingus

Comment by William R. Cumming

February 6, 2013 @ 9:55 am

Secrecy of course can be the great destroyer of governments as well as protect them.

Long ago on this blog I posted a suggestion on the American citizen aspects of the drone wars knowing that both WH, DoJ, and Members of Congress follow it from time to time.

I unlike some others do not agree that drone strikes against non-citizens do not violate the US Constitution or International legal norms. The Convention on Human Rights and Against Bombing just being two off the top of my head.

So to repeat my suggestion, I proposed that an evidentiary hearing conducted in public with certain In Camera review should classified aspects occur in accordance with CIPA [Classified Information Procedure Act] be available and the purpose of the hearing is to argue for the withdrawal of the US citizenship of the alleged terrorist.

The reason for my proposal is that if you read the DoJ white paper you quickly understand that those who think it only involves US citizens external to the US are completely wrong and in fact its logic allows Presidential authority to target domestically residing US citizens and legal residents.

So now I am more convinced than ever that this President and President Bush will eventually be tried by the ICC or some other international body as War Criminals conceding that the trial may well be conducted in absentia just as the citizen withdrawal hearing that I suggest above.

Comment by Christopher Tingus

February 19, 2013 @ 10:18 pm

Barry Obama should have been arrested for suspicion in breach of trust for his intentional dismissal of security despite pleas to increase security at the loack and key embassy and for turning his cheek the night of the attack with such indifference and allowance which resulted in the “Benghazi Massacre” and leaving four brave Patriots behind….

Congress and this partisan politics led by the divisive ways and allegiance to Bill Ayers, Hussein Obama, Soros, Ungor, Rev Wright and others such, the American electorate, at least 50% have only themselves to blame for economically, militarily and all other, We as a nation have lost our way and in the words of Frederick Douglass:

“Find out just what People will submit to, and you have found the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both”

In this Judeo-Christian nation, we must heed Biblical scripture and be sure that we understand that ‘the whole head is sick, and the whoe heart faint” (verse 5 Isaiah 1:2-3).

The world is so riddled with corruption and evil ways that there will be no time for such proceedings even as agree…as War looms ahead and again, humanity in all its dysfunctions, straying so far from the forewarnings of our insightful forefathers and especially from Biblical scripture where We all have been given the road to follow, yet so many deviate so….

With our beloved Republic so weakened in every way, Germany is again on the march as it sends 800 Leopard tanks to Qatar and Saudi Arabia and other armaments as it seeks to nurture a new Middle East Confederation of States in allies with the ever powerful and influential Vatican again by its side as Germany fills the void of power left by a weakened United States!

While I concur with William Cumming, the time draws near to far more calamity and erosition of values and economic stability here in the States and unfortunately with the lack of any real Patriotic leadership, We shall fail! The oppressed will fall further victim to those whose lust for power and self-serving ways cares little of humanistic values…yes, cares little of humanistic values….

The course is clear and Barry Obama and his aspirations in parallel with Hussein Obama and his Kenyan pals and their socialist/marxist ways with little regard for our Judeo-Christian values and valiant history, Barry Obama will defeat America with his own hand in utilizing demographics and his divisive ways to lessen our global influence and open the way forward for those who are engaged in only self-indulgent practices with little empathy for the many who will have nothing and will be found on “Main Street USA” bewildered by the reality which they could never have imagined, but fact as so many will be poverty-ridden.

God Bless America!

You have allowed the law breakers and “entrusted” by precious vote those whose intent is to – enslave – as many as possible to enable control and to hammer the last nails in our beloved Republic’s coffin.

The clock ticks and the budget deficit now some 275% greater than when Barry Obama took office in Jan 2009, now some $16.5 trillion….We have only ourselves to blame as China conducts cyber security attacks on our infrastructure and we do little and the “Brutes of Tehran” w/the rich Pesian blood of a young woman simply protesting on the streets of Tehran left behind as well as so many of our US and NATO soldiers, young men, brave young men, dying at the dirty and bloodied hands of these “Brutes of Tehran” and we do little other than to talk and -whisper- to the “KGB Putinites” who also will never forget the downfall of the Soviet Union with the “KGB Putinites” rebuilding its nation as America looks the other way and the WH clasps teh hands of the Egyptian Islamic Brotherhood and sends them F-16’s while Germany sends 800 leopard tanks and much more to Qatar and Saudi Arabia…

War looms ahead. be prepared for much uncertainty and the calamities which will befall us as our hearts are indeed faint and we no longer boast of the arsenal to protect our Democracy against so many who seek our demise! They, too, our adversaries do not yet understand their unfortunate demise, not at the hands of a nation so weakened, but by our arch enemy Germany who will along with the Vatican march again towards Jeruslem and whether Islamic or Christian or whatever faith one chooses to follow, no one will defeat and control jerusalem for God made it quite clear that Jerusalem was to be protected and no one would sit on its alter other than God!

God Bless America.

Christopher Tingus
PO Box 1612
Harwich (Cape Cod), MA 02645 USA

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