11 February 2014, 19:18

New way to combat terrorism? DC thinking of attacking US citizen with drone

New way to combat terrorism? DC thinking of attacking US citizen with drone

The Obama Administration is thinking about whether or not a drone attack should be executed on an American who is said to be a member of al-Qaeda and is presently conjuring up a plot against the US. The government’s mission would not be to injury the US citizen but to kill this person, according to senior US officials. One senior official who has participated in talks over the last six months said the debate involves the Justice Department, State Department, Department of Defense, the CIA and the White House, and there have been “elaborate, multiple legal reviews” on the subject.

As reported by the official the talks are looking to “weigh the purest legal reasoning with the needs of the nation.” The Department of Defense and agencies are highly thinking about the legal precedent this case would set due to the matters surrounding the Constitution.

Although the target was not specifically named, it was noted that this person of interest had some kind of relationship with American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki when he was residing in the US before the 2003 year. “We are extremely concerned about this individual,” the official said to Fox News, “He’s a really bad guy.”

The American, who is suspected of being a terrorist, is in a nation that will not take US military force on its ground proving to be one valid reason as to why they cannot chase after the person in this way. In addition, President Obama issued a new measure which states that Americans who are thought to be terrorists abroad can only be executed by the military sector, not the CIA. This has created a policy problem for the White House, one it has not been able to fully solve at this point in time.

One US official told the Associated Press the Defense Department was divided over whether the man is dangerous enough to merit the potential domestic fallout of killing an American without charging him with a crime or trying him. It is believed that the possible international fallout of such a procedure in the nation has been rather resistant to US forces.

According to Fox News, the US officials said the suspected terrorist is well-guarded and in a fairly remote location, so any unilateral attempt by U.S. troops to capture him would be risky and even more politically explosive than a U.S. missile strike.

New rules and restrictions Obama highlighted in a speech just a year ago tried to calm the tension abroad to the extent of a US drone campaign. It was stated that deadly actions must only be put into motion "to prevent or stop attacks against U.S. persons, and even then, only when capture is not feasible and no other reasonable alternatives exist to address the threat effectively."

The person of interest to national security must also pose “a continuing, imminent threat to US persons"—the legal terminology used to define capturing a person in the act of creating a deadly attack.

Just a week ago, a complaint was launched by House Intelligence committee chairman, Republican for Michigan Mike Rogers in regards to the vast amount of suspected terrorists that could not be caught. The news rules state that drone strikes be limited to the target’s nationality or where they are living.

As reported by a senior administration official, the Justice Department was working to build up a case for President Obama to look over and decide on the man’s destiny. The official said, however, the legal procedure being followed is the same as when the US killed militant cleric and former Virginia resident al-Awlaki by drone in Yemen in 2011, long before the new targeted killing policy took effect.

The official said the president could make an exception to his policy and authorize the CIA to strike on a onetime basis or authorize the Pentagon to act despite the possible objections of the country in question.

If it is in fact true that the target is an American, the Justice Department would need to prove that executing that person through military force would be “legal and constitutional”. In this particular case, the Pentagon could take action against the US citizen. The administration has already labeled him as an enemy fighter under the Authorization for Use of Military Force, a policy Congress passed through just one week after the 9/11 incident to keep a clear target on al-Qaeda.

Mary Ellen O'Connell, a professor of international law at the University of Notre Dame, said there is a school of thought that the Obama administration's drone policy is "lawless."

"Why should the Justice Department issue the execution warrant for anyone abroad? The fact that they give extra scrutiny only because he's an American exacerbates this negative impression," O'Connell said.

US drones have already taken four American lives since 2009, this includes al-Awlaki, who according to the administration, was planning on killing US citizens.

Three other Americans died from drone attacks but were not targeted, as stated by Attorney General Eric Holder. The three victims that lost their lives to drones were as follows: Samir Khan, Abdulrahman from Denver but killed in Yemen, and Jude Kenan Mohammed, who lost his life to drone attack in Pakistan.

The law clearly states that only the Pentagon has the authority of attacking in war zones, in nations that have an agreement with the US in counterterrorism efforts or in areas not bound by the law, such as parts of Somalia where security forces cannot gain access. However, even then al-Qaeda affiliated suspects can only be the main target to hit.

"It is very clear that there have been missed opportunities that I believe increase the risk of the lives of our soldiers and for disrupting operations underway," Rogers said a week ago.

US officials said both Senate and House appropriators have blocked funding to transfer the CIA's stealth RQ-170 drone fleet to the Pentagon. A select portion of policymakers hope the White House can find a solution for aiming at suspects in regions where the Pentagon is not allowed to operate from. This may be possible either by letting a portion of the CIA stay up and running or by granting the Pentagon the right to strike in a covert manner, despite its place—in other words it would legally deny the attack was executed.

Lawmakers have also shown sharp objection to the shift that has happened to the Pentagon. They believe that the CIA has far more experience with flying drones than another agency would.

Voice of Russia, Fox News

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