By JOHN YOO, OPINION, February 7, 2013 –
The U.S. has dropped the clarity of the rules of war for the vague balancing tests that govern cops on the beat.
President Obama’s antiterrorism policies are drawing new fire after this week’s leak of the administration’s legal memo defending the targeted killing of Americans. According to the Justice Department white paper obtained by NBC News, the U.S. can kill a citizen who is “continually planning attacks” for al Qaeda when an “informed, high-ranking” official decides that the target “poses an imminent threat” and capture is “infeasible.”
Members of certain congressional committees will learn more about the policy after the White House announcement on Wednesday—in a move to stave off trouble on Capitol Hill—to let them see long-sought secret memos on the legal justification for targeted killings. From the leaked white paper, though, we get the drift: Americans may have constitutional rights, but the realities of war and the right to national self-defense trump individual rights when the executive branch is picking targets.
The antiwar left and right are going ballistic. “It’s hard to believe that it was produced in a democracy built on a system of checks and balances,” the ACLU said of the document, with characteristic understatement.