As Outrage Erupts, Obama Administration Defends its Targeted Killings of U.S. Citizens Overseas
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AMY GOODMAN: During his speech on Monday, Attorney General Holder strongly criticized the use of the word "assassinate" to describe the targeted killings of U.S. citizens.
ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER: Some have called such operations "assassinations." They are not. And the use of that loaded term is misplaced. Assassinations are unlawful killings. Here, for the reasons that I have given, the U.S. government’s use of lethal force in self-defense against a leader of al-Qaeda or an associated force who presents an imminent threat of violent attack would not be unlawful, and therefore would not violate the executive order banning assassination or criminal statutes.
AMY GOODMAN: Hina Shamsi, your response?
HINA SHAMSI: Well, the Attorney General is right that there’s an executive order that prohibits assassination, but I think referring to it this way is pretty much a straw-man argument. The issue is not whether we call it assassination or not; the issue is whether the targeted killing is legal under the laws of war, the Constitution and other laws that apply. And that, we simply do not have an answer to, and we are unable to debate, unless and until the administration releases its full legal justification, not just its summary defenses of it.
AMY GOODMAN: Does Obama differ from the Bush administration in any significant way when it comes to this policy?
HINA SHAMSI: President Obama has used more targeted killings than the Bush administration ever did. And we do not have the memos, the Office of Legal Counsel memos, that justify the targeted killing policy. And so, very disappointingly, we see the administration claiming a broad and dangerous authority without adequate public transparency, disclosure, and refusing to defend its authority in the courts.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you very much for being with us, Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project. Thank you.