More on the Obama Administration and Targeted Killings

In Foreign Policy Magazine, my former DOJ colleague Robert Delahunty and I continue to explore the implications of the Obama administration’s white paper on targeted killings.  What would the Obama administration demand of a Special Forces team that comes upon an al Qaeda training camp in Africa? Under the normal rules of war, the soldiers could surprise the camp with snipers and artillery from a distance. Would the Obama rules require the Special forces team to pause and get instructions from D.C?  Having to even ask these questions shows how impractical these law enforcement concepts are on the battlefields of the war on terror.

As we note:

In place of the clarity of the rules of war, the administration has thrust American soldiers into the three- and four-factor balancing tests that govern police officers walking the beat in downtown New York. For the first time in the history of American arms, presidential advisers will sit and weigh the “due process” rights of enemy soldiers, judge whether they pose an “imminent” threat, or decide if capture “becomes feasible.” Due process rights for the enemy, according to the DOJ memo, will require a careful balancing of the “nature and quality of the intrusion” on the enemy’s constitutional rights against “the governmental interests.” And Attorney General Eric Holder limits the target to “an operational leader continually planning attacks” against the United States.

  1. Instugator

    The only due process rights for enemy combatants that I am in favor of is Positive Identification (PID) and that is just so I could kill them and still sleep at night.

  2. flownover

    Ask Chris Stevens .

  3. Israel P.

    Will there be due process for Christopher Dorner or will he get the Bonnie & Clyde treatment?

  4. Nick Stuart
    John Yoo: …And Attorney General Eric Holder limits the target to “an operational leader continually planning attacks” against the United States.

    Continually

    So if the operational leader takes a daily 5 minute break for kif, or reads the Sharia Illustrated burqa issue while he’s taking his daily “sit down,” his planning would only be intermittent and therefore not subject to the AG’s rules?

  5. Chris Campion

    It’ll just mean they’re in recess, and the President is free to make appointments at will.

    Nick Stuart

    John Yoo: …And Attorney General Eric Holder limits the target to “an operational leader continually planning attacks” against the United States.

    “Continually”

    So if the operational leader takes a daily 5 minute break for kif, or reads the Sharia Illustratedburqa issue while he’s taking his daily “sit down,” his planning would only be intermittentand therefore not subject to the AG’s rules? · 5 minutes ago

    Oh, wait.  My bad.

  6. Chris Campion

    This development seems to largely resemble what I assume the average lecturer break room at a college looks like – a lot of dissembling, some nosh being eaten, and cups of tea being re-heated, while soldiers are faced with a do-or-die decision.

    Yep.  These are the people I want in charge.  People who are so far removed from reality as to not understand it, yet they hold the soldiers’ lives in their hands.  While sitting at a table.  Wondering how the optics will turn out.

  7. Albert Arthur

    What if there are terrorists in the camp who have nominal American citizenship?! Can we find out what Ron Paul thinks about that after he gets done discoursing on Iran’s right to nuclear weapons?

  8. Last Outpost on the Right

    Killing is a matter of convenience for these people. No wonder they have such a passion for infringing on our rights to bear arms!

  9. SpinozaCarWash
    Nick Stuart

    John Yoo: …And Attorney General Eric Holder limits the target to “an operational leader continually planning attacks” against the United States.

    “Continually”

    So if the operational leader takes a daily 5 minute break for kif, or reads the Sharia Illustratedburqa issue while he’s taking his daily “sit down,” his planning would only be intermittentand therefore not subject to the AG’s rules? · 3 hours ago

    The President can determine when the operational leader is in “recess” (see e.g., Noel Canning v. NLRB).  If he is, then due process rights don’t apply.

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