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Adele Edisen
02-05-2013, 06:22 AM
Justice Department Memo Reveals Legal Case for Killing Americans
By Michael Isikoff

The U.S. government can order the killing of American citizens if they are believed
to be "senior operational leaders" of al-Qaida or "an associated force" -- even
if there is no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack
the U.S.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article33839.htm [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?e=001L-Go5VPhAeJ9LQ6KlqFxFfxlDFnm_pyHcZAwy9RQB28ZnqdS0-EJEaAcdEoVZ8YRcATUzQKBJXvNInrpoW7NOoGBNSSqoAXptBXj ch

Justice Department Memo Reveals Legal Case for Drone Attacks on Americans
By Michael Isikoff
National Investigative Correspondent, NBC News

February 05, 2013 "NBC News" -A confidential Justice Department memo concludes that the U.S. government can order the killing of American citizens if they are believed to be “senior operational leaders” of al-Qaida or “an associated force” -- even if there is no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack the U.S.

The 16-page memo, a copy of which was obtained by NBC News, provides new details about the legal reasoning behind one of the Obama administration’s most secretive and controversial polices: its dramatically increased use of drone strikes against al-Qaida suspects, including those aimed at American citizens, such as the September 2011 strike in Yemen that killed alleged al-Qaida operatives Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan. Both were U.S. citizens who had never been indicted by the U.S. government nor charged with any crimes.

The secrecy surrounding such strikes is fast emerging as a central issue in this week’s hearing of White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, a key architect of the drone campaign, to be CIA director. Brennan was the first administration official to publicly acknowledge drone strikes in a speech last year, calling them “consistent with the inherent right of self-defense.” In a separate talk at the Northwestern University Law School in March, Attorney General Eric Holder specifically endorsed the constitutionality of targeted killings of Americans, saying they could be justified if government officials determine the target poses “an imminent threat of violent attack.”

But the confidential Justice Department “white paper” introduces a more expansive definition of self-defense or imminent attack than described by Brennan or Holder in their public speeches. It refers, for example, to what it calls a “broader concept of imminence” than actual intelligence about any ongoing plot against the U.S. homeland.

“The condition that an operational leader present 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 memo states.

Instead, it says, an “informed, high-level” official of the U.S. government may determine that the targeted American has been “recently” involved in “activities” posing a threat of a violent attack and “there is no evidence suggesting that he has renounced or abandoned such activities.” The memo does not define “recently” or “activities.”

As in Holder’s speech, the confidential memo lays out a three-part test that would make targeted killings of American lawful: In addition to the suspect being an imminent threat, capture of the target must be “infeasible, and the strike must be conducted according to “law of war principles.” But the memo elaborates on some of these factors in ways that go beyond what the attorney general said publicly. For example, it states that U.S. officials may consider whether an attempted capture of a suspect would pose an “undue risk” to U.S. personnel involved in such an operation. If so, U.S. officials could determine that the capture operation of the targeted American would not be feasible, making it lawful for the U.S. government to order a killing instead, the memo concludes.

The undated memo is entitled “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.” It was provided to members of the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary committees in June by administration officials on the condition that it be kept confidential and not discussed publicly.

Although not an official legal memo, the white paper was represented by administration officials as a policy document that closely mirrors the arguments of classified memos on targeted killings by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which provides authoritative legal advice to the president and all executive branch agencies. The administration has refused to turn over to Congress or release those memos publicly -- or even publicly confirm their existence. A source with access to the white paper, which is not classified, provided a copy to NBC News.

“This is a chilling document,” said Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the ACLU, which is suing to obtain administration memos about the targeted killing of Americans. “Basically, it argues that the government has the right to carry out the extrajudicial killing of an American citizen. … It recognizes some limits on the authority it sets out, but the limits are elastic and vaguely defined, and it’s easy to see how they could be manipulated.”

In particular, Jaffer said, the memo “redefines the word imminence in a way that deprives the word of its ordinary meaning.”

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment on the white paper. The spokeswoman, Tracy Schmaler, instead pointed to public speeches by what she called a “parade” of administration officials, including Brennan, Holder, former State Department Legal Adviser Harold Koh and former Defense Department General Counsel Jeh Johnson that she said outlined the “legal framework” for such operations.

Pressure for turning over the Justice Department memos on targeted killings of Americans appears to be building on Capitol Hill amid signs that Brennan will be grilled on the subject at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday.

On Monday, a bipartisan group of 11 senators -- led by Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon — wrote a letter to President Barack Obama asking him to release all Justice Department memos on the subject. While accepting that “there will clearly be circumstances in which the president has the authority to use lethal force” against Americans who take up arms against the country, it said, “It is vitally important ... for Congress and the American public to have a full understanding of how the executive branch interprets the limits and boundaries of this authority.”

The completeness of the administration’s public accounts of its legal arguments was also sharply criticized last month by U.S. Judge Colleen McMahon in response to a lawsuit brought by the New York Times and the ACLU seeking access to the Justice Department memos on drone strikes targeting Americans under the Freedom of Information Act. McMahon, describing herself as being caught in a “veritable Catch-22,” said she was unable to order the release of the documents given “the thicket of laws and precedents that effectively allow the executive branch of our government to proclaim as perfectly lawful certain actions that seem on their face incompatible with our Constitution and laws while keeping the reasons for the conclusion a secret.”

In her ruling, McMahon noted that administration officials “had engaged in public discussion of the legality of targeted killing, even of citizens.” But, she wrote, they have done so “in cryptic and imprecise ways, generally without citing … any statute or court decision that justifies its conclusions.”

In one passage in Holder’s speech at Northwestern in March, he alluded – without spelling out—that there might be circumstances where the president might order attacks against American citizens without specific knowledge of when or where an attack against the U.S. might take place.

“The Constitution does not require the president to delay action until some theoretical end-stage of planning, when the precise time, place and manner of an attack become clear,” he said.

But his speech did not contain the additional language in the white paper suggesting that no active intelligence about a specific attack is needed to justify a targeted strike. Similarly, Holder said in his speech that targeted killings of Americans can be justified if “capture is not feasible.” But he did not include language in the white paper saying that an operation might not be feasible “if it could not be physically effectuated during the relevant window of opportunity or if the relevant country (where the target is located) were to decline to consent to a capture operation.” The speech also made no reference to the risk that might be posed to U.S. forces seeking to capture a target, as was mentioned in the white paper.

The white paper also includes a more extensive discussion of why targeted strikes against Americans does not violate constitutional protections afforded American citizens as well as a U.S. law that criminalizes the killing of U.S. nationals overseas.

It also discusses why such targeted killings would not be a war crime or violate a U.S. executive order banning assassinations.

“A lawful killing in self-defense is not an assassination,” the white paper reads. “In the Department’s view, a lethal operation conducted against a U.S. citizen whose conduct poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States would be a legitimate act of national self-defense that would not violate the assassination ban. Similarly, the use of lethal force, consistent with the laws of war, against an individual who is a legitimate military target would be lawful and would not violate the assassination ban.”

Read the entire 'white paper' on drone strikes on Americans:

http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/msnbc/sections/news/020413_DOJ_White_Paper.pdf

Adele

Peter Lemkin
02-05-2013, 06:43 AM
If that 'white paper' satisfies anyone that it makes it legal and/or just.....they surly must miss 'ol man Shickelgruber. There is a whole body of Natural, Common, U.S., and International Law that makes it completely illegal and unjust! [And not just the murder of Americans, but the extra-judicial murder of anyone, anywhere].
We have become the enemy we always said we feared.

Adele Edisen
02-05-2013, 07:02 AM
If that 'white paper' satisfies anyone that it makes it legal and/or just.....they surly must miss 'ol man Shickelgruber. There is a whole body of Natural, Common, U.S., and International Law that makes it completely illegal and unjust!

Which is why we all should read the posted title page, and the Justice Department's White Paper, referenced at the bottom of the title page. For American citizens there should be habeas corpus and due process guarantees, which appear to be in question. What is the level of proof that any said target is part of al-Qaida; or that threat to lives of other Americans is imminent, how imminent? How complete would the information have to be for a 'senior official' to make such a deadly decision on the life of an American citizen?
These legal rights and principles of life and death are basic to our laws.
Thank you, Peter

Adele

Peter Lemkin
02-05-2013, 08:15 AM
JSoc: Obama's secret assassins
The president has a clandestine network targeting a 'kill list' justified by secret laws. How is that different than a death squad?

Naomi Wolf
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 3 February 2013 14.00 GMT

US Navy Seals on a night mission in the Middle East. Seal Team 6, which killed Osama bin Laden, is a secret elite unit that works closely with the CIA. Photograph: John Moore/Getty Images
The film Dirty Wars, which premiered at Sundance, can be viewed, as Amy Goodman sees it, as an important narrative of excesses in the global "war on terror". It is also a record of something scary for those of us at home – and uncovers the biggest story, I would say, in our nation's contemporary history.
Though they wisely refrain from drawing inferences, Scahill and Rowley have uncovered the facts of a new unaccountable power in America and the world that has the potential to shape domestic and international events in an unprecedented way. The film tracks the Joint Special Operations Command (JSoc), a network of highly-trained, completely unaccountable US assassins, armed with ever-expanding "kill lists". It was JSoc that ran the operation behind the Navy Seal team six that killed bin Laden.
Scahill and Rowley track this new model of US warfare that strikes at civilians and insurgents alike – in 70 countries. They interview former JSoc assassins, who are shell-shocked at how the "kill lists" they are given keep expanding, even as they eliminate more and more people.
Our conventional forces are subject to international laws of war: they are accountable for crimes in courts martial; and they run according to a clear chain of command. As much as the US military may fall short of these standards at times, it is a model of lawfulness compared with JSoc, which has far greater scope to undertake the commission of extra-legal operations – and unimaginable crimes.
JSoc morphs the secretive, unaccountable mercenary model of private military contracting, which Scahill identified in Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, into a hybrid with the firepower and intelligence backup of our full state resources. The Hill reports that JSoc is now seeking more "flexibility" to expand its operations globally.
JSoc operates outside the traditional chain of command; it reports directly to the president of the United States. In the words of Wired magazine:
"JSoc operates with practically no accountability."
Scahill calls JSoc the president's "paramilitary". Its budget, which may be in the billions, is secret.
What does it means for the president to have an unaccountable paramilitary force, which can assassinate anyone anywhere in the world? JSoc has already been sent to kill at least one US citizen – one who had been indicted for no crime, but was condemned for propagandizing for al-Qaida. Anwar al-Awlaki, on JSoc's "kill list" since 2010, was killed by CIA-controlled drone attack in September 2011; his teenage son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki – also a US citizen – was killed by a US drone two weeks later.
This arrangement – where death squads roam under the sole control of the executive – is one definition of dictatorship. It now has the potential to threaten critics of the US anywhere in the world.
The film reveals some of these dangers: Scahill, writing in the Nation, reported that President Obama called Yemen's President Saleh in 2011 to express "concern" about jailed reporter Abdulelah Haider Shaye. US spokespeople have confirmed the US interest in keeping him in prison.
Shaye, a Yemeni journalist based in Sana'a, had a reputation for independent journalism through his neutral interviewing of al-Qaida operatives, and of critics of US policy such as Anwar al-Awlaki. Journalist colleagues in Yemen dismiss the notion of any terrorist affiliation: Shaye had worked for the Washington Post, ABC news, al-Jazeera, and other major media outlets.
Shaye went to al-Majala in Yemen, where a missile strike had killed a group that the US had called "al-Qaida". "What he discovered," reports Scahill, "were the remnants of Tomahawk cruise missiles and cluster bombs … some of them bearing the label 'Made in the USA', and distributed the photos to international media outlets."
Fourteen women and 21 children were killed. "Whether anyone actually active in al-Qaida was killed remains hotly contested." Shortly afterwards, Shaye was kidnapped and beaten by Yemeni security forces. In a trial that was criticized internationally by reporters' groups and human rights organizations, he was accused of terrorism. Shaye is currently serving a five-year sentence.
Scahill and Rowley got to the bars of Shaye's cell to interview him, before the camera goes dark (in almost every scene, they put their lives at risk). This might also bring to mind the fates of Sami al-Haj of al-Jazeera, also kidnapped, and sent to Guantánamo, and of Julian Assange, trapped in asylum in Ecuador's London embassy.
President Obama thus helped put a respected reporter in prison for reporting critically on JSoc's activities. The most disturbing issue of all, however, is the documentation of the "secret laws" now facilitating these abuses of American power: Scahill succeeds in getting Senator Ron Wyden, who sits on the Senate intelligence committee, to confirm the fact that there are secret legal opinions governing the use of drones in targeted assassinations that, he says, Americans would be "very surprised" to know about. This is not the first time Wyden has issued this warning.
In 2011, Wyden sought an amendment to the USA Patriot Act titled requiring the US government "to end practice of secretly interpreting law". Wyden warns that there is now a system of law beneath or behind the law that we can see and debate:
"It is impossible for Congress to hold an informed public debate on the Patriot Act when there is a significant gap between what most Americans believe the law says and what the government is using the law to do. In fact, I believe many members of Congress who have voted on this issue would be stunned to know how the Patriot Act is being interpreted and applied.
"Even secret operations need to be conducted within the bounds of established, publicly understood law. Any time there is a gap between what the public thinks the law says and what the government secretly thinks the law says, I believe you have a serious problem."
I have often wondered, since I first wrote about America's slide toward fascism, what was driving it. I saw the symptoms but not the cause. Scahill's and Rowley's brave, transformational film reveals the prime movers at work. The US executive now has a network of secret laws, secret budgets, secret kill lists, and a well-funded, globally deployed army of secret teams of assassins. That is precisely the driving force working behind what we can see. Is fascism really too strong a word to describe it?

Jan Klimkowski
02-05-2013, 07:16 PM
“This is a chilling document,” said Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the ACLU, which is suing to obtain administration memos about the targeted killing of Americans. “Basically, it argues that the government has the right to carry out the extrajudicial killing of an American citizen. … It recognizes some limits on the authority it sets out, but the limits are elastic and vaguely defined, and it’s easy to see how they could be manipulated.”

The ACLU should cut the crap.

This memo does not provide any meaningful limits on the US government's self-proclaimed right to murder anyone - asian, black, caucasian, hispanic - at any time, any place.


“A lawful killing in self-defense is not an assassination,” the white paper reads.

Let me fix that quote.

Drone killing by remote control on the authorisation of a high-level government official in the absence of evidence being heard by a court of law is murder.

Unlawful killing with malice aforethought.

MURDER.

Peter Lemkin
02-07-2013, 08:27 AM
Center for Constitutional Rights Responds to Newly Released Targeted Killing White Paper

press@ccrjustice.org

February 5, 2013, New York – In response to the release of a Justice Department white paper titled, “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,” the Center for Constitutional Rights made the statements below. Also today, the Center for Constitutional Rights will be filing a brief with the ACLU arguing against current and former administration officials’ attempt to keep out of court a case challenging the targeted killing of three American citizens, one of whom is the subject of this white paper.
Said Center for Constitutional Rights Senior Attorney Pardiss Kebriaei, “This white paper’s claim of executive power is disturbing enough on its own, but it doesn’t describe the vast majority of targeted killings being carried out by the U.S. government, which now number in the thousands. The government claims the authority to target a U.S. citizen who is a ‘senior operational leader of Al Qa’ida or an associated force,’ but it doesn’t provide an analysis that would explain, for example, the killing of our client’s grandson, 16-year-old Abdulrahman Al Aulaqi, nor does it describe the so-called signature strike killings of people whose identities are unknown but who fit some undisclosed profile.

“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,” continued Kebriaei. “The heart of our lawsuit is a demand for administration officials to account for these killings in a court of law.”

Said Center for Constitutional Rights Executive Director Vincent Warren, “The parallels to the Bush administration torture memos are chilling. Those were unchecked legal justifications drawn up to justify torture; these are unchecked justifications drawn up to justify extrajudicial killing. President Obama released the Bush torture memos to be transparent; he must release his own legal memos and not just a Cliffs Notes version for public consumption, particularly when scores of civilian lives are at stake. Despite this attempt to appear transparent, the program remains opaque. This will rightly raise many questions for John Brennan at his confirmation hearing on Thursday beyond his role in the Bush torture program, since he is among the main architects of the Obama administration targeted killing program.”

For more on the lawsuit, visit the Al Aulaqi v. Panetta (http://ccrjustice.org/targetedkillings) case page. The case challenges the government’s assertion that the president has the unilateral authority to carry out the targeted killing of any American it designates a terrorism suspect, whether or not they present a truly imminent threat, are located far from any battlefield, or have ever been charged or convicted of any crime.

Peter Lemkin
02-07-2013, 05:34 PM
Extrajudicial Killing: Official US Policy
By Stephen Lendman
Global Research, February 07, 2013

Since taking office, Obama headed America toward full-blown tyranny. He enforces Bush administration police state laws. He added more of his own. He governs like a tinpot despot.

He targets free expression, dissent, whistleblowing, and other constitutional freedoms. He usurped diktat authority.

He spurns civil protections, judicial fairness, and other fundamental rights. Abuse of power is institutionalized.

By executive order, he authorized anyone indefinitely detained with or without charge on his say. He promised to close Guantanamo but keeps it open. He operates a secret global torture prison network.

In January, Law Professor Jonathan Turley called America “no longer the land of the free,” saying:

“An authoritarian nation is defined not just by the use of authoritarian powers, but by the ability to use them.”

“If a president can take away your freedom or your life on his own authority, all rights become little more than a discretionary grant subject to executive will.”

Post-9/11, constitutional rights no longer apply. Diktat power replaced them. Bush took full advantage. So does Obama.

He governs extrajudicially. He claims the right to order anyone incarcerated indefinitely or killed on his say. US citizens are included. No reasonable proof is needed. No one anywhere is safe.

He ordered outspoken Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki killed. He was a US citizen. He threatened no one. He lived in Yemen. He opposed US imperial lawlessness. He committed no crime. He’s dead for supporting right over wrong.

Others like him are vulnerable. No one’s safe anywhere. There’s no place to hide. Rule of law protections don’t apply. Murder, Inc. was elevate to a higher level. It’s official policy. Summary judgment targets state enemies.

Obama decides who lives or dies. He appointed himself judge, jury and executioner. He’s got final kill list authority. Police states operate that way. America by far is the worst. It menaces humanity

Democracy is a figure of speech. American never was beautiful and isn’t now. Diktat power is policy.

On February 5, The New York Times headlined “Memo Cites Legal Basis for Killing US Citizens in Al Qaeda,” saying:

Administration lawyers turned jurisprudence on its head. They call it lawful to kill US citizens if “an informed high-level (government) official” says they belong to Al Qaeda and pose “an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States.”

A Justice Department “white paper” inverted inviolable legal principles. It’s titled “Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a US Citizen who is a Senior Operational Leader of Al Qa’ida or An Associated Force.”

It’s unsigned and undated. It’s “the most detailed analysis yet to come into public view.” It calls lawless killing without trial or evidence legal.

Thresholds of evidence and just cause aren’t discussed. Vague language substitutes. “Imminent” threats are highlighted. So is ill-defined “terrorism.”

Extrajudicial executive authority is usurped. Courts have no say. Nor does Congress.

Twisted logic claims judicially enforcing “orders would require the court to supervise inherently predictive judgments by the president and his national security advisers as to when and how to use force against a member of an enemy force against which Congress has authorized the use of force.”

Last March, Attorney General Eric Holder made the case. He claimed America’s lawful right to operate extrajudicially. He said Washington can kill US citizens affiliated with Al Qaeda if capture isn’t possible.

“Given the nature of how terrorists act and where they tend to hide, it may not always be feasible to capture a United States citizen terrorist who presents an imminent threat of violent attack,” he said.

“In that case, our government has the clear authority to defend the United States with lethal force.”

“Some have argued that the president is required to get permission from a federal court before taking action against a United States citizen who is a senior operational leader of Al Qaeda or associated forces.”

“This is simply not accurate. ‘Due process’ and ‘judicial process’ are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security. The Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process.”

In other words, the UN Charter, Geneva Conventions, other inviolable international laws, constitutional rights, and US statute laws don’t apply.

With no evidence or justification whatever, Holder said “a small number of US citizens” plot attacks on America. Citizenship grants no immunity, he claims. They’re fair game. They can be targeted and killed extrajudicially.

Pentagon general counsel, Jeh Johnson, made the same case. He claims “(b)elligerents who also happen to be US citizens do not enjoy immunity where non-citizen belligerents are valid military objectives.”

“The legal point is important because, in fact, over the last 10 years Al Qaeda has not only become more decentralized, it has also, for the most part, migrated away from Afghanistan to other places where it can find safe haven.”

“Within the executive branch the views and opinions of the lawyers on the president’s national security team are debated and heavily scrutinized, and a legal review of the application of lethal force is the weightiest judgment a lawyer can make.”

“And, when these judgments start to become easy, it is time for me to return to private law practice.”

ACLU National Security Project Director Hina Shamsi addressed the white paper. She calls it a “profoundly disturbing document.”

“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.”

ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer called the document “chilling.” It manipulates legal standards. It turns them on their head. Doing so justifies the unjustifiable.

ACLU said extrajudicial killings occur “with virtually no oversight outside the executive branch, and essential details about the program remain secret, including what criteria are used to put people on CIA and military kill lists or how much evidence is required.”

America kills illegally. Rule of law principles are spurned. Transparency and openness are gone. Accountability no longer applies. Diktat authority usurped it. Doing so is unconstitutional.

On February 5, the Center for Constitutional Rightsresponded to Washington’s white paper.

CCR’s senior attorney, Pardiss Kebriaei said:

“This white paper’s claim of executive power is disturbing enough on its own, but it doesn’t describe the vast majority of targeted killings being carried out by the U.S. government, which now number in the thousands.”

“The government claims the authority to target a US citizen who is a ‘senior operational leader of Al Qa’ida or an associated force,’ but it doesn’t provide an analysis that would explain, for example, the killing of our client’s grandson, 16-year-old Abdulrahman Al Aulaqi, nor does it describe the so-called signature strike killings of people whose identities are unknown but who fit some undisclosed profile.”

“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.”

CCR Executive Director Vincent Warren added:

“The parallels to the Bush administration torture memos are chilling. Those were unchecked legal justifications drawn up to justify torture; these are unchecked justifications drawn up to justify extrajudicial killing.”

“President Obama released the Bush torture memos to be transparent; he must release his own legal memos and not just a Cliffs Notes version for public consumption, particularly when scores of civilian lives are at stake.”

“Despite this attempt to appear transparent, the program remains opaque. This will rightly raise many questions for John Brennan.”

He was deeply involved in Bush administration rogue policies. He a key architect of Obama’s targeted killing program.

CCR filed suit (Al Aulaqi v. Panetta). It demands accountability “in a court of law.”

On February 5, a New York Times editorial headlined “To Kill an American,” saying:

Obama “utterly rejects the idea that Congress or the courts have any right to review (extrajudicial killings) in advance, or even after the fact.”

Twisted logic defines administration policy. It exceeds the worst of George Bush. It includes a menu of lawless practices.

Congress hasn’t officially seen the white paper. White House officials won’t acknowledge administration authority to kill Awlaki. They provided no evidence justifying it.

“According to the white paper,” said The Times, “Constitution and the Congressional authorization for the use of force after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, gave” Obama unchecked powers.

Definitions aren’t forthcoming. Vagueness substitutes for specifics. Due process and judicial fairness don’t apply. Geopolitical priorities alone matter.

The Times quoted Center for National Security Studies director Kate Martin calling the white paper “a confusing blend of self-defense and law of war concepts and doesn’t clearly explain whether there is a different standard for killing a senior Al Qaeda leader depending on whether he is a citizen.”

“Its due process is especially weak.”

Congress needs to act. At stake are fundamental issues. They include balance of power and rule of law principles. They no longer apply. They need to be reasserted.