U.S. DOJ Rights to Kill U.S. Citizens

By Ron Avery

The right of “a high-level U.S. government official” to “target and conduct a lethal operation upon a citizen outside the U.S.,” rest upon quick sand as I will demonstrate to the satisfaction of anyone. NBC News released a document February 4, 2013 entitled Department of Justice White Paper: Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a U.S. Citizen Who is a Senior/Operational Leader of Al-Qa’ida or an Associated Force. The 16 page White Paper is legal justification proposed by the DOJ for the killing of American Citizens without a trial or public display of evidence.

The DOJ says the targeting and killing of U.S. Citizens may be conducted by an “informed high-level official of the U.S. Government” if: 1) the nature of the war in progress is non-international against an armed military consisting of a people without a nation base; 2) the U.S. Citizen is a “senior operational leader of al-Qa’ida or associated force; 3) is in a foreign nation; 4) the citizen poses an imminent threat against the United States; 5) capture is not feasible in the relevant window of opportunity; 6) potential capture is too risky to U.S. personnel; 7) the means of killing the citizen complies with the four fundamental “law-of-war” principles (necessity, distinction, proportionality, and humanity, i.e., avoidance of unnecessary suffering).

Without going to any other principles that the DOJ may have purposely avoided or omitted in its justification for killing Americans overseas without a trial it can be demonstrated that their own justification requirements fail. The DOJ says that the U.S. is in an armed conflict with al-Qa’ida as a result of the events of 9/11/01 in which Congress authorized the President to use necessary force under the Authorization For Use of Military Force (AUMF) Public Law # 107-40 which says: “the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.” [Italics & bolding added]

The language of the so-called “AUMF” is unconstitutional because it transfers the war declaring power from the Congress to the President in violation of Article 1 Section 8 and it gives the President all power to determine who the enemy is at any time and any place all over the world, even here at home. Since there is no amendment that allows such a transfer of power the nation is dissolved along with its constitution. The language making the President the sole judge, jury and executioner over all matters related to the events of 9/11 eradicates the entire Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution.

This “AUMF resolution” is not a “Declaration of War” that alters the status of the President as Chief Executive Officer to the “Commander-in-Chief” of the armed forces. A lawful “Declaration of War,” required before a President can make any lawful military order, must be titled a “Declaration of War” and it must include the proof of the damage caused by the enemy and who the enemy is. There is no lawful war in progress.

What office in al-Qa’ida did Anwar al-Awlaki hold and what was he planning against the U.S. when he was droned? What was the rank of his 16 year old son and what was he planning when he was also droned 200 miles away along with six of his friends? Well we just have to take all this on faith. You know what they say on the Science Channel; “question everything.” They don’t really mean that when it comes to government activity and what really happened on 9/11/01. They only mean that when it comes to matters of Christianity. What kind of imminent threat were these people? Were they planning the next “underwear bomber” attack or “tennis shoe” terror strike? The White Paper says; “The U.S. government may not be aware of all al-Qa-ida plots as they are developing and thus cannot be confident that none is about to occur; and that, in light of these predicates, the nation may have a limited window of opportunity within which to strike in a manner that both has a high likelihood of success and reduces the probability of American casualties.” Therefore, strike when you can with the presumption the target is planning something. So much for requirement #2 and #4 above!

What capture would be convenient at the “window of opportunity” and not involve more “risk” than droning the target from a game room 3000 miles away? Therefore, droning is always the best option under #5 and #6 above. So how did these dronings conform to the Law-of-War principles? Were they necessary, distinct, proportional and humane? Did they hit the correct people proportionate to the conflict, and cause little suffering? About the only thing we know is that the target was in a foreign land.

How hard would it be for these DOJ lawyers to concoct a bunch more judicial sounding crap to include U.S. Citizens on U.S. soil as drone targets? “Finally, the Department notes that under the circumstances described in this paper, there exists no appropriate forum to evaluate these constitutional considerations.” Then why did they write all that crap? I think a 100,000,000 man militia could evaluate it pretty well!


Ron Avery is a semi-retired architect, author and speaker on topics regarding Christian theology and the principles of property that regulate every aspect of lawful government. Reply to: taphouse@sbcglobal.net