Judge Andrew Napolitano strongly criticized President Barack Obama for authorizing the military strikes that killed two Americans who joined al-Qaeda and rose to positions of leadership in the terrorist group.
The CIA carried out drone strikes on a compound in the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan in January, killing the Americans and also two Western hostages.
“I condemn, in words as strong as anyone can muster, the idea that the president of the United States can be judge, jury and executioner for any American,” Napolitano said on Thursday. “The Constitution expressly prohibits it, and we fought every single war against tyrants so that that type of unilateral power in the hands of one person, who now apparently delegates it to others, would ever come here.”
“Even they are tied to al-Qaeda, the president cannot summarily kill them — that’s a war crime.” Napolitano added.
The two American al-Qaida leaders were Ahmed Farouq, a dual U.S.-Pakistani national who was an al-Qaida operations leader in Pakistan, and Adam Gadahn, an American who served as an al-Qaida spokesman, who was killed in a separate strike on a second compound. The drone strikes also killed hostages Warren Weinstein and Italian Giovanni Lo Porto.
The Obama administration claimed the Americans were not specifically targeted by the drone strikes.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement on Thursday that the U.S. "did not have information indicating their presence at the sites of these operations."
The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story has been updated.