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Another New Definition

Attorney General Eric Holder

Sure, this isn’t quite the same deal as when President Bill Clinton wondered what the definition of “is” was. Still, reading this piece about the current administration’s justification of what they call “targeted killing” of high level Al Qaeda leaders. Here is the beginning of the piece from Talking Points Memo:

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.

Did you catch that? Holder said that targeted killings are not “assassinations”. I’m sorry, but the distinction is lost on me. He also says that due process does not have to involve the judicial branch. Once again, I could be missing something, but isn’t that they point of having a judicial branch? I really think this is a particularly troubling precedent, regardless of your opinion of the administration overall. Especially since a recent application of this principal was a targeted killing of an American citizen who was reportedly working for Al Qaeda. If we can suspend judiciary due process for an American citizen in this case, where do we draw the line? This seems a slippery slope to begin to go down. You can read the rest of the article here.

(HT: Corey Andreasen)

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