President Barack Obama prepared for a potential Election Night defeat by working on a death-by-drone rulebook, reports the New York Times.
According to the article, the book would provide guidelines for the targeting of “terrorists” by the White House aimed at justifying the summary execution of those identified as threats to national security.
“There was concern that the levers might no longer be in our hands,” said one official, speaking on condition of anonymity and quoted in the New York Times story.
Although seemingly unconcerned about setting limits on the extraordinary power to order the death by remote control of anyone — an unarmed American teenager, for example — when it is exercised by himself, President Obama didn’t want his would-be successor to inherit such boundless authority.
What was once an eleventh-hour electoral priority is now little more than a long-range goal that will be “finished at a more leisurely pace,” writes Scott Shane.
There have been earlier attempts to tie these deadly drone assaults — at least 2,939 people have been killed by American drones since 2006 — to some sort of code of conduct that would provide legal cover fire to protect the program from attacks by human rights and civil liberties groups.
In March, for example, Attorney General Eric Holder spoke at Northwestern Law School regarding the source of the president’s authority to order the targeted killing of Americans living abroad whom he suspects of posing an extraordinary threat to the security of the homeland. Holder said:
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Photo of President Barack Obama: AP Images