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Administration lawyers turned jurisprudence on its head. They call it lawful to kill US citizens if "an informed high-level (government) official" says they belong to Al Qaeda and pose "an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States."
A Justice Department " white paper " inverted inviolable legal principles. It's titled "Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a US Citizen who is a Senior Operational Leader of Al Qa'ida or An Associated Force."
It's unsigned and undated. It's "the most detailed analysis yet to come into public view." It calls lawless killing without trial or evidence legal.
Thresholds of evidence and just cause aren't discussed. Vague language substitutes. "Imminent" threats are highlighted. So is ill-defined "terrorism."
Extrajudicial executive authority is usurped. Courts have no say. Nor does Congress.
Twisted logic claims judicially enforcing "orders would require the court to supervise inherently predictive judgments by the president and his national security advisers as to when and how to use force against a member of an enemy force against which Congress has authorized the use of force."
Last March, Attorney General Eric Holder made the case . He claimed America's lawful right to operate extrajudicially. He said Washington can kill US citizens affiliated with Al Qaeda if capture isn't possible.
"Given the nature of how terrorists act and where they tend to hide, it may not always be feasible to capture a United States citizen terrorist who presents an imminent threat of violent attack," he said.
"In that case, our government has the clear authority to defend the United States with lethal force."
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