U.S. Claims Legal Authority to Assassinate Americans
I’ve been on blog-silence the last few months, but one of my students today made me feel a little guilty about my lack of blogging, so I’m back (at least for now). So while not wanting to interrupt this great online symposium, I’ll just point our readers to this remarkable little exchange between U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair and members of Congress.
“We take direct actions against terrorists in the intelligence community; if … we think that direct action will involve killing an American, we get specific permission to do that,” Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair told the House Intelligence Committee.
Blair goes on to helpfully explain that such assassinations will not be for free speech, but for “engaging in action that threatens Americans.”
In fact, as the report goes on to point out, the U.S. Predator strike campaign has already killed a number of Americans in Pakistan associated with Al Qaeda. So I guess this isn’t such a big deal. But as a legal matter, it is odd that the U.S. must grant substantial constitutional rights to citizens abroad, and it must even grant habeas rights to challenge their status to U.S. citizens held as enemy combatants, but it can target and deliberately kill Americans abroad without notice or a hearing. Would love to see the OLC opinion (no doubt by Marty Lederman) on that one…