Eric Holder: US Can Target Citizens Overseas

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (Mark Wilson/Getty)

Attorney General Eric Holder outlined the United States’ legal defense of using lethal force against U.S. citizens overseas if that citizen is posing a terrorist threat. Holder’s speech, delivered Monday afternoon at Northwestern University, argued in part that the U.S. Constitution’s definition of due process defends the use of lethal force, even without the written consent of the president.

Until now, no legal defense was given for the U.S. mission in Yemen which killed al-Qaeda’s leading figure Anwar al-Awlaki. Al-Awlaki, who was born in the US, was the radical cleric who successfully took al-Qaeda’s message to YouTube.

To better understand what's at stake both domestically and internationally we're speaking with two legal experts. Mary Ellen O'Connell is a professor of international law at the University of Notre Dame and vice president of the American Society of International Law and Karen Greenberg is the director of the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School.


Karen Greenberg and Mary Ellen O'Connell

Produced by:

Hsi-Chang Lin

Comments [1]


I presume that no one associated with the production of The Takeaway is a Republican. Because any Republican listening to this interesting segment would have felt (as I did) a mixture of astonishment and delight, as two well-meaning legal scholars tried to come to grips with the legalities of the war on terror, but without demonizing the current White House administration.

I remember when John Yoo and Jay Bybee of the Bush Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel were being talked about in the left-wing press as international war criminals, for writing some detailed and nuanced legal memoranda about interrogation techniques on a handful of the worst terrorists ever known, none of whom were American citizens.

Now Eric Holder is talking about the terms for targeted killings of Americans.

Boy, I sure wish that we had this opinion back in 2008, when Obama was campaigning for President and blaming the prior administration for a loss of American prestige and damage to the rule of law, for doing LESS than what he's now talking about.

Not that I mind too much, but has anybody asked Mr. Obama or Mr. Holder why Osama bin Laden needed to be killed if he could have been captured?

One of the most problematic issues of "asymmetrical warfare" that I know of, is the Non-Fox Media's double standard for criticizing Bush era Republican policies, which have now been adopted as a matter of inevitability by the Obama Administration.

If this current decision is such a terrible abuse of Constitutional liberty by the Obama Administration, then where is the primary challenge? Why are liberal Democrats going along with Obama? Why not get a real civil libertarian to challenge him?

Mar. 06 2012 09:14 AM

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