Report: Obama Administration Might Target U.S. Terror Suspect With Drone Strike
According to an AP report, the Obama administration is seriously considering killing a U.S. citizen with a drone strike, without charging him with a crime, and without trying him. The American is allegedly a member of Al-Qaeda, and has — according to U.S. officials — been planning attacks against Americans overseas. The issue? The country he's in right now is refusing American military action, and according to U.S. policy, suspected American terrorists can only be killed by the military. So, now, the White House is between a rock and a hard place, and their answer might just be: blow the dude up.
Drones are powerful military tools; they're relatively cheap, don’t involve a direct risk of American lives and, most importantly, they can get into the hard-to-reach areas. And they're a favorite of the U.S. military: last month marked the five-year anniversary of the first drone strike ordered by President Barack Obama, it's a move that has since been too-often repeated. Over the years, it's become a hot topic of controversy, especially amid growing reports of civilian casualties.
The administration's new policy — issued last year in part to respond to the growing criticism —mandates that deadly force can only be used against people who pose "a continuing, imminent threat to U.S. persons," and only then "when capture is not feasible and no other reasonable alternatives exist to address the threat effectively." More specifically, if the target is American, then the Justice Department has to show that using lethal military action against the person — in other words, executing him — is "legal and constitutional." To do this, they have to "conduct an additional legal analysis" — which, in this case, they haven't finished doing.
Complicating matters is the fact that Pentagon drones can only strike in countries that have agreed to U.S. counter-terrorism efforts, or in war zones — but even in those cases, it's only people who have suspected Al-Qaida links that can be targeted. In the past, the CIA could go after any suspects, even if they were Americans, with drones, no matter where they were, even in areas that had no agreements with the U.S.
The suspected terrorist in question has allegedly been behind several deaths of U.S. citizens overseas, and is supposedly planning to continue the deadly attacks. But, according to the AP, the Defense Department is still on the fence about whether he's really that dangerous — or at least, whether the threat he poses is enough to justify the killing of an American without due process. If it's at all in question, though, surely the obvious answer is no.
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