Fox News reports:
“FBI Director Robert Mueller on Wednesday said he would have to go back and check with the Department of Justice whether Attorney General Eric Holder’s [criteria] for the targeted killing of Americans also applied to Americans inside the U.S.
“‘I have to go back. Uh, I’m not certain whether that was addressed or not,’ Mueller said when asked by Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., about a distinction between domestic and foreign targeting.
“Graves followed up asking whether ‘from a historical perspective,’ the federal government has ‘the ability to kill a U.S. citizen on United States soil or just overseas.’
“‘I’m going to defer that to others in the Department of Justice,’ Mueller replied.”
Indeed, Holder’s Monday speech at Northwestern University seemed to leave the door open. Constitutional expert Jonathan Turley writes:
“One would hope that the FBI Director would have a handle on a few details guiding his responsibilities, including whether he can kill citizens without a charge or court order.
“He appeared unclear whether he had the power under the Obama Kill Doctrine or, in the very least, was unwilling to discuss that power. For civil libertarians, the answer should be easy: ‘Of course, I do not have that power under the Constitution.’”
What is the limiting principle? If the President cannot order the killing of a citizen in the United States, Holder can simply say so (and inform the FBI Director who would likely be involved in such a killing). What we have is a purely internal review that balances the practicality of arrest and the urgency of the matter in the view of the President. Since the panel is the extension of his authority, he can presumably disregard their recommendations or order a killing without their approval.
Since the Administration has emphasized that the “battlefield” in this “war on terror” is not limited to a particular country, the assumption is that the President’s authority is commensurate with that threat or limitless theater of operation. Indeed, the Justice Department has repeatedly stated that the war is being fought in the United States as well as other nations.
This admittedly sounds over-the-top. But one of the nation’s top constitutional and military law experts – Jonathan Turley – agrees. Turley said [on C-Span]:
“President Obama has just stated a policy that he can have any American citizen killed without any charge, without any review, except his own. If he’s satisfied that you are a terrorist, he says that he can kill you anywhere in the world including in the United States.
“Two of his aides just … reaffirmed they believe that American citizens can be killed on the order of the President anywhere including the United States. You’ve now got a president who says that he can kill you on his own discretion. He can jail you indefinitely on his own discretion.
“I don’t think the the Framers ever anticipated that [the American people would be so apathetic]. They assumed that people would hold their liberties close, and they wouldn’t relax”
Indeed, given that virtually any American could be considered a suspected terrorist these days, no one is safe from an all-powerful president’s whims.
The government’s indefinite detention policy – stripped of its spin – is literally insane, and based on circular reasoning. Stripped of p.r., this is the actual policy:
• If you are an enemy combatant or a threat to national security, we will detain you indefinitely until the war is over
• It is a perpetual war, which will never be over
• Neither you or your lawyers have a right to see the evidence against you, nor to face your accusers
• But trust us, we know you are an enemy combatant and a threat to national security
• We may torture you (and try to cover up the fact that you were tortured), because you are an enemy combatant, and so basic rights of a prisoner guaranteed by the Geneva Convention don’t apply to you
• Since you admitted that you’re a bad guy (while trying to tell us whatever you think we want to hear to make the torture stop), it proves that we should hold you in indefinite detention
See how that works?
And – given that U.S. soldiers admit that if they kill innocent Iraqis and Afghanis, they then “drop” automatic weapons near their body so they can pretend they were militants – it is unlikely that the government would ever admit that an American citizen it assassinated was an innocent civilian who has nothing at all to do with terrorism.