NYT and Texas Republican Senator agree Obama’s US Kill List the Most Radical Power a Government Can Seize

Congress is finally standing up to President Barack Obama on targeted killing. Almost a year after three American citizens were killed in US drone strikes, legislators are pushing the administration to explain why it believes it’s legal to kill American terror suspects overseas.

Congress is considering two measures that would compel the Obama administration to show members of Congress what Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) calls Obama’s “license to kill”: internal memos outlining the legal justification for killing Americans overseas without charge or trial. Legislators have been asking administration officials to release the documents for nearly a year, raising the issue multiple times in hearings and letters. But the new proposals, including one from Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) first flagged by blogger Marcy Wheeler and another in a separate intelligence bill, aren’t requests—they would mandate disclosure. That shift shows both Republicans and Democrats are growing impatient with the lack of transparency on targeted killings.

The New York Times has confirmed the existence of a secret memo from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC)—the branch of the government that tells the president whether what he wants to do is legal—outlining the legal basis for the targeted killing program.

Below is an interesting piece by the New York Times on this topic…When the New York Times and a Texas Senator agree- we need to pay attention !

John Cornyn Makes Sense
By ANDREW ROSENTHAL

I don’t often find myself in agreement with Senator John Cornyn, the Texas Republican. But he’s rightfully fed up with the secrecy surrounding the Obama administration’s targeted killing program, and he’s now pushing a measure to force greater disclosure.

Here’s the background: In public speeches (though not in a court of law) the administration has claimed the right to decide, without any Congressional or judicial review, which people, including American citizens, represent an imminent terrorist threat to the United States and have them killed – by soldiers on the ground in other nations, or by drones.

It’s an open secret that, as a part of this program, Mr. Obama ordered the killing of Anwar al Awlaki, an American-born Islamic cleric who was urging jihad against the United States. He was killed in a drone attack that also killed Samir Khan, another American citizen. Mr. Awlaki’s 16-year-old son was killed in a separate attack.

It’s also an open secret that the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel prepared a memo outlining the legal rationale for the program—but, officially, the administration refuses to acknowledge that the memo even exists.

We’ve seen this kind of dangerous over-reach in the not-distant past. And Mr. Obama was highly critical of President George W. Bush’s vision of an imperial executive who could give legal sanction to torture, to warrantless wiretapping, to indefinite detention without charges. Mr. Bush also resisted providing documents and explanations to Congress and sneered at the notion of judicial oversight.

Mr. Cornyn certainly did not introduce bills to compel Mr. Bush to turn over documents on his extra-legal activities. But in this particular case I’m glad he’s been inconsistent. Mr. Cornyn’s measure, an amendment to an intelligence bill, would compel Mr. Obama to turn over the OLC memo to legislators.

I’m not certain the amendment—which isn’t a request but a mandate for disclosure—passes muster on the separation of powers, but Mr. Obama has brought this on himself. The Times, going a bit further than Mr. Cornyn, is party to a lawsuit seeking public disclosure of the OLC memo (rather than disclosure to Congress). The ACLU, going a bit further than The Times, is also seeking disclosure of the specific documents justifying the Awlaki killing. (That seems like a stretch since they certainly contain highly sensitive intelligence.) But though the administration may find reasons to shrug off The Times and the ACLU, there’s truly no excuse for withholding any of those papers from Congress.

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