We haven’t had a drone thread lately, so here’s Michael Isikoff’s story about the DoJ white paper laying out the rationale for killing American citizens who are al-Qaida leaders, as well as the white paper itself [pdf]:
“The condition that an operational leader present an ‘imminent’ threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future,” the memo states.
Instead, it says, an “informed, high-level” official of the U.S. government may determine that the targeted American has been “recently” involved in “activities” posing a threat of a violent attack and “there is no evidence suggesting that he has renounced or abandoned such activities.” The memo does not define “recently” or “activities.”
The memo was released a prior to tomorrow’s confirmation hearing for John Brennan, and he’s going to face “tough questions”. I’m sure he’s going to be wearing incontinence pads and popping Ativan to deal with the fear of dealing with a bunch of grandstanding prima donna do nothing windbags who haven’t yet lifted a legislative finger on the drone war, and won’t do it in the future. DiFi, Rocky IV and the rest are going to vote to confirm after a little fussing, and that will be that.
I realize that we’re all supposed to be shocked and outraged that the Obama administration is running an undeclared drone war, and feel free to express that in the comments, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that Congress has essentially ceded the war power to the Executive Branch, so we’re going to be governed by shady memos instead of law when it comes to the use of our shiny killing machines.