MSNBC, thanks to Michael Isikoff, has posted a DOJ white paper justifying drone attacks on Americans.

As Maddow points out in a segment from last night, many feel that we can applaud the Obama administration because the use of torture seems to have gone way down.  But it seems that the Obama administration, instead of capturing and torturing terrorists, or potential terrorists, has simply been killing them.

This fact is known to most here.  But what has not been known is what justification - what restraints - are being used, if any.

From the MSNBC site:

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.
and later, the reaction by someone from the ACLU:
“This is a chilling document,” said Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the ACLU, which has sued unsuccessfully in court 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.”

It is frightening to think of our government targeting our people.  Of course, real terrorists can be terrible.  I am not so naive as to imagine a government which never kills those that threaten it - yet I am deeply uneasy at the prospect of drones which can track people and shoot them while they sleep in their beds.  (As a side note, this makes me relieved that Google maps has screwed up the spelling of my street - rather inconvenient when trying to tell friends how to find me, but it appears to have some upside.)

And sometimes I take the long view, remembering the proscriptions in the times of Sulla and Octavian/Augustus - and how the latter's murders finally ended the civil wars, a worse alternative than a few murders, and led to the establishment of the Roman Empire.

We may find out more this week as John Brennan participates in Senate confirmation hearings regarding his appointment to direct the CIA.  We should

I'm sure others here are better informed than I on this subject, and I hope you will post your comments below.

Tired of politics?  Need to escape?  Try my Greek mythology based novels, either the story of Oedipus from the point of view of Jocasta, or a trilogy about Niobe, whose children were murdered by the gods - or were they?

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