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Secret Justice Department document defends Obama administration kill list

Civil liberty groups respond
By staff |
February 5, 2013
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Washington, D.C – A leaked Justice Department white paper titled the “Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a U.S. Citizen who is a Senior Operational Leader of Al Qa’ida or An Associated Force,” was published Feb. 5 by NBC News. The once secret document gives the legal justification the White House is using for the assassination of U.S. citizens living in other countries.

The white paper is similar to the memos of the Bush administration justifying torture. In this case the document attempts to provide the legal basis for murder by the U.S. government and trampling on democratic rights.

“This is a profoundly disturbing document, and it’s hard to believe that it was produced in a democracy built on a system of checks and balances. It summarizes in cold legal terms a stunning overreach of executive authority – the claimed power to declare Americans a threat and kill them far from a recognized battlefield and without any judicial involvement before or after the fact,” said Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project.

Center for Constitutional Rights Senior Attorney Pardiss Kebriaei states, “One of the most dangerous aspects of the white paper is the claim that ‘there exists no appropriate judicial forum to evaluate these constitutional considerations’ either before or after a killing.”

Tom Burke, of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression says, “This document says a lot about what is happening to our democratic rights. It justifies the government playing the role of judge, jury, and executioner with no due process whatsoever. This is the kind of thinking that leads to events like the 2010 raids on U.S. anti-war and international solidarity activists.”