- Feds sue Pennsylvania State Police over women’s fitness tests
- Israel accused of striking U.N. school, killing at least 15
- Israel hits symbols of Hamas rule; scores killed
- Mississippi abortion law can’t be enforced
- Teacher who survived Sandy Hook has book deal
- Jury awards Jesse Ventura $1.8M in case vs. ‘American Sniper’ author Chris Kyle
- Middle Eastern firm’s deal to manage U.S. cargo port raises security concerns
- Bob McDonnell’s defense: Lonely wife developed ‘crush’ on CEO
- Chinese hackers stole ‘huge quantities’ of sensitive data on Israel’s Iron Dome
- House Republicans unveil bill to speed deportations of border children
Senators to target Brennan on drone use at CIA confirmation hearing
Question of the Day
“The executive branch’s cooperation” in making these opinions available “will help avoid an unnecessary confrontation that could affect the Senate’s consideration of nominees for national security positions.”
Mr. Brennan is widely seen as the architect of the administration’s targeted-killing program, which uses Predator drones operated by the CIA and armed with Hellfire missiles to strike individuals believed to be al Qaeda leaders.
Mr. Brennan was the official the administration chose last year to publicly acknowledge the existence of the program. Drone attacks have killed at least three Americans so far: Islamic preacher Anwar Awlaki, a senior leader in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula; his 16-year old son Abdulrahman Awlaki; and propagandist Samir Khan.
Monday night, NBC News obtained a copy of a confidential but unclassified Justice Department white paper, laying out the legal basis for targeting americans under the program. The paper was prepared for members of congress last year on condition they did not disclose its existence or discuss its contents.
The paper lays out the conditions under which the president may order the lethal targeting of a U.S. citizen who is an “operational leader” of al Qaeda, who cannot feasibly be captured and who poses an “imminent threat” to the United States.
Mr. Brennan sketched out this justification last year, but the white paper gives more details and reveals how broad the circumstances are under which President Obama claims the right to act.
“The condition that an operational leader presents an ‘imminent’ threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future,” the paper states.
“Informed, high-level” officials can determine the target poses “an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States” if they had “recently” been involved in acts of terrorism and there was no evidence they had renounced violence, the paper said.
The paper also says that for a lethal strike to be legal, officials must judge that it is “infeasible” to capture the target. But it adds that a capture is considered “infeasible” if an attempt would pose an “undue risk” to U.S. personnel.
The White House defended the program Tuesday.
“We conduct those strikes because they are necessary to mitigate ongoing actual threats, to stop plots, to prevent future attacks and … save American lives,” said spokesman Jay Carney.
“These strikes are legal. They are ethical, and they are wise.”
Civil rights advocates also criticized the White House justification for the program and compared them to harsh interrogation methods used against terrorist suspects under former President George W. Bush.
“The parallels to the Bush administration torture memos are chilling,” said attorney Pardiss Kebriaei of the Center for Constitutional Rights.
Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, reiterated cautious support for the program Tuesday.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Shaun Waterman is an award-winning reporter for The Washington Times, covering foreign affairs, defense and cybersecurity. He was a senior editor and correspondent for United Press International for nearly a decade, and has covered the Department of Homeland Security since 2003. His reporting on the Sept. 11 Commission and the tortuous process by which some of its recommendations finally became ...
- Senator's memo shows Iran links in Homeland Security's troubled immigration program
- Help wanted: Homeland Security plagued by vacancies at the top
- Dems back bill to fix problems in investor visa program
- Democrats proceed with Mayorkas vote despite pending investigation
- NSA monitored 'World of Warcraft' players
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
- Boehner rules out impeachment: 'Scam started by Democrats'
- Obama thanks Muslims for 'building the very fabric of our nation'
- Obama's brother wears Hamas scarf bearing anti-Israel slogans in photo
- Smugglers, rainstorm combine to poke holes in border fence
- Tactical advantage: Russian military shows off impressive new gear
- Kerry's credibility questioned as fighting in Gaza rages
- Patent workers paid to exercise, shop, do chores: report
- Defense lawyer: McDonnell's wife had 'crush' on CEO
- McCLAUGHRY: Finish off the "Islamic State" quickly and cheaply
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world