Holder expected to explain rationale for targeting U.S. citizens abroad

The Washington Post on March 4, 2012 released the following:

“By Sari Horwitz and Peter Finn

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Monday plans to provide the most detailed account to date of the Obama administration’s legal rationale for killing U.S. citizens abroad, as it did in last year’s airstrike against an alleged al-Qaeda operative in Yemen, officials said.

The rationale Holder plans to offer resembles, in its broad strokes, those previously offered by lower-ranking officials. But his speech Monday will mark a new and higher-profile phase of the administration’s campaign to justify lethal action in those rare instances in which U.S. citizens, such as New Mexico-born Anwar al-Awlaki, join terrorist causes devoted to harming their homeland.

Civil libertarians and other critics have been demanding a more thorough and public accounting of the administration’s logic since the killing of Awlaki in September. Administration officials have relied on a classified opinion, written by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, that provides a legal framework for the unusual action, but they have refused repeated requests to release it despite intense internal debate on the subject.

Holder plans to argue that the killing of an American terrorist abroad is legal under the 2001 congressional authorization of the use of military force, according to an official briefed on the speech, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss its details ahead of its formal release. This official also said Holder plans to say that the U.S. right to self-defense is not limited to traditional battlefields as the government pursues terrorists who present an imminent threat.

Awlaki, 40, was a skilled propagandist and the chief of external operations for al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, which has attempted a number of terrorist attacks on the United States, according to administration officials. He had been placed on “kill lists” compiled by the CIA and and the military’s Joint Special Operations Command. Awlaki died when a joint CIA-JSOC drone operation fired missiles at him.

He was the first U.S. citizen deliberately targeted by the U.S. government.

Major address on security

The Awlaki operation was carried out after the administration requested and received the Justice Department opinion saying that targeting and killing U.S. citizens overseas was legal under domestic and international law, according to administration officials. The classified memo also included intelligence material about his operational role within al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen.

Senior Obama administration officials, including John O. Brennan, the president’s counterterrorism adviser, and Harold Koh, the State Department legal adviser, have given speeches that offered a broad rationale for U.S. drone attacks on individuals in al-Qaeda and associated forces.

On Feb. 22, in a speech at Yale Law School, Pentagon General Counsel Jeh Johnson said the targeted killing of those suspected of engaging in terrorist activities against the United States, including U.S. citizens, is justified and legal. He did not mention Awlaki by name or the secret CIA drone program.”


Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes


To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: