Intelligence Official Acknowledges Policy Allowing Targeted Killings of Americans

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Robyn Shepherd, (212) 519-7829 or 549-2666; media@aclu.org

Intelligence Official Acknowledges Policy Allowing Targeted Killings of Americans

ACLU Says More Information Needed on Policy That Grants President Power to Target Americans Abroad

NEW YORK - Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair acknowledged in a
congressional hearing on Wednesday that the U.S. may, with executive
approval, deliberately target and kill U.S. citizens who are suspected
of being involved in terrorism. The American Civil Liberties Union
expressed serious concern about the lack of public information about
the policy and the potential for abuse of unchecked executive power.
 
The following can be attributed to Ben Wizner, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project:

"It is alarming to hear that the
Obama administration is asserting that the president can authorize the
assassination of Americans abroad, even if they are far from any
battlefield and may have never taken up arms against the U.S., but have
only been deemed to constitute an unspecified 'threat.' This is the
most recent consequence of a troublingly overbroad interpretation of
Congress's 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force. This
sweeping interpretation envisions a war that knows no borders or
definable time limits and targets an enemy that the government has
refused to define in public. This policy is particularly troubling
since it targets U.S. citizens, who retain their constitutional right
to due process even when abroad."

The following can be attributed to Jonathan Manes, legal fellow with the ACLU National Security Project:

"The American people have a right to
know more about a policy that grants the president the unilateral
authority to approve the killing of U.S. citizens. It is essential that
more information be made available about who can be targeted for
killing, who makes these decisions and on the basis of how much
evidence, and whether lethal force can be used if arrest or capture are
possible or have not been attempted. While there is little doubt that a
U.S. citizen fighting for an enemy army could lawfully be killed on the
battlefield in the course of fighting, this policy goes far beyond the
ordinary parameters of battlefield combat. It appears to allow for the
deliberate targeted killing of American citizens far away from any
active hostilities, as long as the executive branch determines
unilaterally that they meet a secret definition of who the enemy is."

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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