The President of the United States has the authority to order the targeted killing of Americans living abroad whom he suspects of posing an extraordinary threat to the security of the homeland. This was the opinion delivered by Attorney General Eric Holder in a speech Monday at Northwestern Law School in Chicago (photo).
In his address, the Attorney General told the audience:
Any decision to use lethal force against a United States citizen — even one intent on murdering Americans and who has become an operational leader of al-Qaeda in a foreign land — is among the gravest that government leaders can face. The American people can be — and deserve to be — assured that actions taken in their defense are consistent with their values and their laws.
The values and laws do not include due process, as these assassinations are carried out without affording these citizens even a scintilla of due process. Basically, should the President or a designated member of his national security team determine that an American has qualified for inclusion on a kill list, then that person may be killed by agents of the U.S. government without being charged with any crime and without a hearing on the legitimacy of those actions which are suspected of being dangerous to Americans.
Ironically, it is the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment that Holder cited as the constitutional authority for the killing of American citizens in the manner he outlined in his address. Below is an excerpt from the Attorney General’s remarks wherein he confronts the Due Process argument:
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Photo: Attorney General Eric Holder speaks at the Northwestern University law school, Monday, March 5, 2012 in Chicago: AP Images