by Matt Lacy –
A pair of lawyers for the Obama administration said the president has sole discretion to define who is an enemy and that U.S. citizens with that designation are legitimate military targets.
Government lawyers, CIA counsel Stephen Preston and Pentagon counsel Jeh Johnson, were asked at a national security press conference about the CIA killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen who was also a member of al-Qaida.
Following al-Awlaki’s killing by a drone aircraft; the administration has faced criticism from both the left and right. Critics have said it is one thing to die in a firefight with troops, but the aerial attack amounted to a targeted assassination.
Last year, a lawsuit by al-Awlaki’s father was thrown out by a judge who said courts do not have the authority to review military decisions made by the commander in chief that are intended to protect to country from terrorists.
While not directly addressing the al-Awlaki case, the lawyers said any U.S. citizen who takes up arms with al-Qaida is a legitimate military target. They went on to say that when it came to deciding who is an enemy, the executive branch, not the courts had sole authority to make that distinction.
While a recent defense authorization bill has come under criticism by those who say it could grant the military powers to detain U.S. citizens here in America, the bill has not yet been signed into law.
Today’s statements show that regardless of what the bill contains, the President believes he has full power to declare a U.S. citizen an enemy and order his termination.
Brian Britton with the Greeley 9/12 Project called the statement by the administration “frightening.”
“For any president, regardless of his political party to have the power to act as judge jury and executioner of any American citizen based simply on his say so is frightening,” Britton said “Members of Congress and even the Department of Homeland Security have said that everyday citizens can be terrorists if they support Ron Paul for president, are in favor of lower taxes or love the Constitution. Based on those statements, every tea party member is a possible military target.”
During this Summers debate over the debt limit, Republican members of Congress and the tea party were called terrorists by several Democratic lawmakers.
On Aug. 1, Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) speaking about members of the tea party caucus, reportedly said “We have negotiated with terrorists. This small group of terrorists has made it impossible to spend any money.” Vice-President Joe Biden supposedly echoed the sentiment saying “They have acted like terrorists.” Biden has denied making the remark.
A few days before Doyle’s comments, former Ted Kennedy staffer William Yeomans wrote, “It has become commonplace to call the tea party faction in the House ‘hostage takers’, but now they have become full-blown terrorists.”
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) said “tea party extremists really held this country hostage. Another Florida Democrat Rep. Alcee Hastings said “What we have witnessed in the past several weeks was hardly a negotiation, but rather the Republicans recklessly holding the full faith and credit of the United States hostage until they got everything they wanted and then some.”
In 2009 the Department of Homeland Security issued a memo warning law-enforcement about terrorist groups. The memo’s list of terrorist indicators included returning vets, people who support state authority over federal authority and those who are dedicated to a single issue such as abortion or immigration. The memo also listed Christians who believe in “end time prophecies” such as the “Rapture” as portrayed in the Left Behind series of books and movies.
DHS Secretary, Janet Napolitano, issued a statement saying she stood by the report. Critics have said the memo’s description of terrorist also applies to many tea party members.
The Missouri Highway Patrol was given a similar report by the Missouri Information Analysis Center that linked conservative groups with terrorists. The report said terrorist indicators included support for third-party candidates such as Ron Paul, Bob Barr and Chuck Baldwin. Other characteristics included opposition to illegal immigration, abortion and federal income taxes. The Missouri Highway Patrol disavowed the report after news of it had been made public.
Soldiers taking the Department of Defense’s Annual Level I Antiterrorism Awareness Training, in 2009, were asked the question “which of the following is an example of low-level terrorist activity?”
The choices were attacking the pentagon, IEDs, hate crimes against racial groups, and protests. To answer the question correctly on the knowledge check, the examinee had to select the answer “Protests.” Following the complaint, the DOD withdrew the question from the training manual.