Holder: Executive Branch Reviews Of Targeted Killings Count As ‘Due Process’

06/03/2012 11:35


The Obama administration believes that executive branch reviews of evidence against suspected al-Qaeda leaders before they are targeted for killing meet the constitution’s “due process” requirement and that American citizenship alone doesn’t protect individuals from being killed, Attorney General Eric Holder said in a speech Monday.

“Due process and judicial process are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security,” Holder said. “The Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process.”

Broadly outlining the guidelines the Obama administration has used to conduct lethal drone stikes overseas, Holder said the U.S. government could legally target a senior operational al Qaeda leader who is actively engaged in planning to kill Americans if the individual (1) posed an imminent threat of violence; (2) could not feasibly be captured; and (3) if the operation was conducted in line with war principles.

Such a use of lethal force against that type of individual, Holder said, wouldn’t violate the executive order banning assassinations or criminal statues because such an act would be in “self defense.” In remarks delivered at Northwestern University Law School in Chicago, Holder also said that targeted killings are not “assassinations,” adding that the “use of that loaded term is misplaced” because assassinations are “unlawful killings” while targeted strikes are conducted lawfully.

The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) has so far refused to release a copy of a legal memorandum justifying the targeted killing of the U.S. born Anwar al-Awlaki, who allegedly inspired several attacks or attempted attacks on the U.S.



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