Author Spotlight: J. Brian Meskill
Discounting the Fourth Amendment: Implications at Home with Targeted Killings Abroad discusses the U.S. drone program and targeted killing. The use of drone strikes has increased exponentially under the Obama administration, but was not widely covered by the media until the 2011 targeted killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen alleged to be a senior operational leader in al-Qaeda. The strike prompted questions from Congress, the media, and the general public: who can be targeted, and where and when can they be targeted? The focus of the note is what the Department of Justice's legal justification means for U.S. citizens and the wisdom of having decisions of this magnitude made unilaterally by the executive branch.
Shortly after the note was completed, NBC News released a 16-page unsigned and undated "white paper" that sets forth the DOJ's position on the lawfulness of targeting United States citizens for death. The document asserts that if "an informed, high-level official" decided that a U.S. citizen posed an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States, and capture was not feasible, targeted killing is legal. The "secret memorandum," upon which the "white paper" is derived, remains shielded from the public, only recently seen by members of the Senate Intelligence Committee hours before John Brennan's confirmation hearing as director of the CIA. Most importantly, the document confirms this note's contention that the DOJ was prepared to defend the targeted killings of U.S. citizens abroad with Fourth Amendment cases such as Tennessee v. Garner. The document leaves open the possibility of the use of domestic targeted killing, making the note's argument all the more important â€?that judicial process, in a FISA-type court, should be required before a U.S. citizen can lawfully be targeted for death
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