Does U.S. Government Have the Right to Assassinate Its Citizens on U.S. Soil? Leaders Won’t Say

Wednesday, February 27, 2013
John Brennan

President Barack Obama and his choice to run the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) have been asked repeatedly in recent weeks if they believe the government has the authority to kill Americans suspected of terrorist involvement on U.S. soil.


But neither Obama nor CIA director-in-waiting John Brennan will answer the question.


During his confirmation hearings in the Senate, senators have pointedly asked Brennan just how far the administration can go with executing U.S. citizens, which can be done overseas according to a legal opinion from the U.S. Department of Justice. Brennan, however, has dodged the questions each time.


In one instance, he was asked: “Could the administration carry out drone strikes inside the United States?”


Brennan’s response was: “This Administration has not carried out drone strikes inside the United States and has no intention of doing so.”


When asked to describe the “geographic limits” on U.S. drone strikes, Brennan replied that the administration does not see its authority “limited to ‘hot’ battlefields like Afghanistan.”


When President Obama was asked if drone strikes could be used against U.S. citizens within the U.S., his reply was as evasive as Brennan’s: There “has never been a drone used on an American citizen on American soil.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Danny Biederman


To Learn More:

Obama Officials Refuse to Say if Assassination Power Extends to US Soil (by Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian)

White House Tactic for C.I.A. Bid Holds Back Drone Memos (by Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti, New York Times)

Secret U.S. Government Memo Justifies Assassinations of American Citizens (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Holder’s Rationale for Killing Americans is Full of Holes (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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