Jay Carney Responds to Reporters Questions About Drone Strikes on American Citizens

White House press secretary Jay Carney pauses as he speaks during his daily news briefing at the White House in Washington, Friday, Feb. 1, 2013. Credit: AP

WASHINGTON (TheBlaze/AP) — The White House is declining to explain its criteria for directing drone attacks against American citizens working abroad with terrorists.

A newly disclosed Justice Department memo says the administration doesn’t need evidence of a pending attack. The document says only that the target must be involved in ongoing plotting against the United States.

White House spokesman Jay Carney wouldn’t discuss the memo in detail, despite being hounded by reporters on Tuesday. He said President Barack Obama takes seriously his responsibility to protect the United States and its citizens. Carney said the strikes are “legal, ethical and wise,” and added that they were constitutional and used to save lives.

“You’re taking away a citizen’s due process,” CBS’ Bill Plante said Tuesday. “Doesn’t it deserve a broader debate at a broader court hearing?”

“The administration has … reviewed these issues,” Carney began.

“Shouldn’t they be considered beyond the executive branch?” Plante interjected.

“Internally, they have been reviewed with great care,” Carney replied.

Another tough question came from NPR’s Ari Shapiro who asked: “Why does the government believe it’s legal to kill Americans abroad, but not inside the US?…There’s no Constitutional distinction — it’s just that capture is not feasible [inside the US]? If imminence is one of the major tests, a plot in the United States would be more imminent than something abroad?”

Carney did not provide a straight answer.

Controversy over U.S. drone policy mushroomed after a September 2011 drone strike in Yemen killed two American citizens.

Watch Carney’s explanation below:

(H/T: Huffington Post)