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The President Has Constitutional Power to Target and Kill U.S. Citizens Abroad

From the Panel

  • Against: NOAH FELDMAN

  • Obama’s Drone Attack on Your Due Process
    Noah Feldman, Bloomberg View, February 8, 2013The biggest problem with the recently disclosed Obama administration white paper defending the drone killing of radical clerk Anwar al-Awlaki isn’t its secrecy or its creative redefinition of the words “imminent threat.” It is the revolutionary and shocking transformation of the meaning of due process.
  • Obama Team’s Al-Awlaki Memo Furthered Bush Legacy
    Noah Feldman, Bloomberg View, October 16, 2011The leaking of the basic content (but not the text) of an Obama administration memo authorizing the drone strike that killed U.S. citizen Anwar Al-Awlaki therefore calls for serious reflection about where the war on terrorists has been -- and where it is headed next.

  • Against: HINA SHAMSI

  • Violating the ideals he pledged to uphold
    Hina Shamsi, The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 2, 2014By asserting the right to kill based on his authority alone, President Obama violates the constitutional principles he swore to uphold and undermines the security we all seek.
  • Attorney General Eric Holder Defends Legality of Targeted Killings of U.S. Citizens Overseas
    Amy Goodman interviews Hina Shamsi, Democracy Now, March 6, 2012The public deserves a right to know what standards, evidence and criteria are used when the administration seeks to kill one of its own citizens, and the legal basis for that exercise of authority needs to be reviewed by the court because of the significant constitutional questions that are raised.
  • Hina Shamsi on Obama’s Drone Wars
    Hina Shamsi, The Guardian, July 22, 2013Why the Obama administration’s drone assassinations are not just illegal in many cases, but are becoming increasingly risky for the U.S. itself.
  • Targeted Killing: ‘A Unique and Extraordinary Case’
    Hina Shamsi, ACLU, December 7, 2010‘A unique and extraordinary case’ is how a federal judge described our lawsuit, with the Center for Constitutional Rights, challenging the Obama administration's targeted killing policy.
  • ACLU comment on U.S. Admission to Killing Americans in Targeted Killing Program
    ACLU, May 22, 2013The government must disclose its still-secret targeted killing memos so that the public can determine if the contain criteria as vague and elastic as its definitions of ‘imminence’ and ‘feasibility of capture.’
  • Targeted Killings
    ACLULinks to the ACLU’s work on targeted killings, including its Al-Aulaqi v. Panetta lawsuit,  targeted killing FOIA request, and Al-Aulaqi v. Obama lawsuit.


  • FOR

  • In Defense of the Administration on Targeted Killing of Americans
    Benjamin Wittes, Lawfare, February 27, 2013There is nothing extraordinary about the administration’s position, which actually claims very little in the way of power to target Americans.
  • A Just Act of War
    Jack Goldsmith, New York Times, September 30, 2011While no court approved the killing of Mr. Awlaki, it is not accurate to say that he was targeted without due process. What due process requires depends on context.

  • An Executive Power to Kill?
    David Cole, The New York Review of Books, March 6, 2012The Constitution requires the government to obtain a judicial warrant based on probable cause before it can search your backpack or attach a GPS tracking device to your car, but not, according to Attorney General Holder, before it kills you.
  • Chilling Legal Memo from Obama DOJ Justifies Assassination of U.S. Citizens
    Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian, February 5, 2013The most extremist power any political leader can assert is the power to target his own citizens for execution without any charges or due process, far from any battlefield.