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Are Drone Strikes on American Citizens Constitutional?


In March of last year, Attorney General Eric Holder gave a speech generally outlining and endorsing the legal justification for the use of drones to kill Americans, saying they could be justified if government officials determine the target poses  “an imminent threat of violent attack.”  Shortly after the election last November a striking-yet quickly pushed under the rug–report came out that the Obama administration had hastily put together a “rules of engagement” manual for a potential Romney administration as they relate to the president’s extensive use of drones strikes in countries that harbor terrorists.

The issue of drone attacks and the constitutionality of the Obama administration unilaterally deciding on the killing of Americans has come up in the news again, as a 16-page confidential Justice Department memo was revealed Monday that says the U.S. government is authorized to order the killing of any American citizen who is believed to be a "senior operational" leader of al Qaeda or "an associated force," regardless of whether that person poses an immediate national security threat.

To many, the memo is concerning to say the least. It’s language is loose and general, and gives the executive branch seemingly limitless power to kill Americans. MSNBC's Joe Scarborough and the Morning Joe panel unloaded on the coverage of and reaction to the administration's use of drones and executing Americans, during Monday 's show. Mediate reports:

An “absolute mess” and “frightening” were the descriptors that immediately emerged from the panel. When dealing with these types of threats, Harold Ford, Jr. argued, “we have to make at times very messy and sometimes uncomfortable and oftentimes questionable decisions.” But now Democrats should look back at how they questioned the Bush administration’s tactics.

“If this was happening, and his name was Bush, I think there’d be a lot of criticism coming at this president,” he said.

“If George Bush had done this, it would have been stopped,” Scarborough added.

“I think it would have been certainly a huge controversy that would have erupted,” Mika Brzezinski responded, noting that the issue now is how many questions the administration will face about it.

On 'Real News' Tuesday the panel discussed the legal and executive overreach implications of the Justice Department memo reported Monday, and if Obama and his supporters are hypocritical for getting behind this policy given their criticisms of the Bush administration.


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