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"Targeted' Assassination by the CIA, Where is the Legal Authority?

By       Message Dave Lefcourt     Permalink
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Ever since the advent of the "Freedom of Information Act", we have become more aware of the clandestine activities conducted by the CIA over the years including the assassinations and coups it helped to perpetrate that contributed to the overthrow of legitimately elected leaders (presidents and prime ministers) of foreign governments.

Included in these nefarious undertakings by the "Agency" was the overthrow of Prime Minister Mossadegh of Iran in 1953, the assassination of President Diem in South Viet Nam in 1962 and the coup of President Allende in Chile in 1968, just to name a few of the CIA's more notorious plots "targeting" another country's leadership.

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Since the 1970's such "targeted" assassinations and coups, coordinated and carried out by the CIA, were officially banned by an act of Congress.

However, earlier this year the Obama administration authorized the CIA to "target" and kill Anwar al-Awlaki, the American born Muslim cleric who is reportedly hiding in Yemen.

The father of Awlaki has brought suit against the U.S. government saying that "targeted" killings were against the U.S. Constitution. The Justice Department has challenged the suit, saying the father has no legal standing to sue and that the courts should not interfere.

Most interestingly the Justice Department refuses to acknowledge the "targeting" program even exists! The suit remains in the hands of a federal judge who as of today has issued no ruling on the matter.

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At this point, some background on Awlaki is in order. There is no doubt Awlaki, from his known speeches and CD recordings, is an opponent and an avowed detractor of the U.S. and its policies. The Obama administration has named him as a terrorist and an ally of al Qaeda thus using this as the justification and the basis for "targeting" him to be killed.

But to this observer, where is the legal authority for the administration to authorize the CIA to engage in any type of "targeted" killing, much less the "targeting" of a U.S. citizen?

If Awlaki has committed a crime, why is he not being charged, even in absentia?

Just where is the declaration of war (which must be authorized by Congress) that could legally justify these practices?

We must either be a nation that follows the rule of law or be considered a rogue nation, taking upon itself the position of extra judicial judge, jury and executioner.

Let's be clear; there is no intention here to say or imply the U.S., the president, Congress and the Justice Department has no right to defend the country and its people, to deter and prevent terrorism or to intercept terrorists who may be planning to carry out their malevolence against innocent people.

But in the absence of officially declared war, terrorists and terrorism is criminal behavior. Terrorists are not military combatants that fall under the protection of the Geneva Convention on war (to which the U.S. is an original signer). Terrorists are criminals.

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What the Bush administration did in response to the 9/11 attacks was to declare an unofficial "war on terror". There is not now, nor ever was, an officially authorized and declared war on terror. This is no idle distinction, to be treated cavalierly as something insignificant.

The Obama administration, like its predecessor before it, a fawning media, a dysfunctional and sycophantic Congress that fails its constitutionally mandated duty and authority regarding its war powers along with the acquiescence of the American people has engaged in illegal, unofficial undeclared war.

Now we're back in the business of "targeting" and killing suspects, even American citizens.

The Constitution and the rule of law are being trampled upon. Let us face the fact we remain a constitutional democracy in name only, belying our descent into an authoritarian dictatorship and empire with only the trappings of a representative democracy.


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