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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 1590

U.S. assumes right to assassinate American citizens abroad to safeguard it

Daya Gamage – US National Correspondent Asian Tribune
Washington, DC. 06 February (

Dennis_C_Blair.jpgThe United States has extended its authority beyond its shores to track American citizens and assassinate them, in the official word of U.S. Director of National Intelligence, “whether that American is involved in a group that is trying to attack us, (or) whether that American is a threat to other Americans.”

If an American citizen domiciled in another country professes sentiments that help or assist a U.S. designated terrorist organization he will be targeted for assassination despite that American citizen is not involved in a group that is trying to attack the United States.

The explanation given is the measure is not to “suppress freedom of speech” but to safeguard America.

Can a Third World Nation like for instance the South Asian nation Sri Lanka which recently defeated the Tamil Tiger terrorism within her borders but still threatened by pro-Tamil Tiger operatives in Western nations adopt a similar tactic to track Sri Lanka citizens domiciled in those countries and assassinate them despite they are not directly involved in any combat operations that threatens the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Sri Lanka? Can Sri Lankan authorities say that it’s aim is not to “suppress freedom of speech” but to prevent the resuscitation of the terrorist network Tamil Tigers?

Or, under this new authority the U.S. intelligence agencies have assumed from the President, can such agencies assassinate a U.S. citizen domiciled in another country who is in an influential governing position in that country that the United States believes
that person has only been deemed to constitute an unspecified “threat” to the United States?

Obama administration’s Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair acknowledged February 3 in his testimony before the U.S. House Intelligence Committee that government agencies may kill U.S. citizens abroad who are involved in terrorist activities if they are “taking action that threatens Americans.”

“We take direct action against terrorists in the intelligence community. If that direct action, we think that direct action will involve killing an American, we get specific permission to do that” he noted.

The director of national intelligence further said the factors that “primarily” weigh on the decision to target an American include “whether that American is involved in a group that is trying to attack us, (or) whether that American is a threat to other Americans.”

In a quick rebuttal to this newly adopted ‘criminal justice system’ of assassinating U.S. citizens living abroad the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said “It is alarming to hear that the Obama administration is asserting that the president can authorize the assassination of Americans abroad, even if they are far from any battlefield and may have never taken up arms against the U.S., but have only been deemed to constitute an unspecified “threat.” This sweeping interpretation envisions a war that knows no borders or definable time limits and targets an enemy that the government has refused to define in public. This policy is particularly troubling since it targets U.S. citizens, who retain their constitutional right to due process even when abroad.”

Jonathan Manes of ACLU wants to know more:

“The American people have a right to know more about a policy that grants the president the unilateral authority to approve the killing of U.S. citizens. It is essential that more information be made available about who can be targeted for killing, who makes these decisions and on the basis of how much evidence, and whether lethal force can be used if arrest or capture are possible or have not been attempted. While there is little doubt that a U.S. citizen fighting for an enemy army could lawfully be killed on the battlefield in the course of fighting, this policy goes far beyond the ordinary parameters of battlefield combat. It appears to allow for the deliberate targeted killing of American citizens far away from any active hostilities, as long as the executive branch determines unilaterally that they meet a secret definition of who the enemy is”.

The most prominent case to date is that of a U.S.-born cleric, Anwar al-Aulaqi, who lives in Yemen and has been linked to the Army major who allegedly shot and killed 13 people at Fort Hood, Tex., in November, and to the Nigerian accused of attempting to bomb a Northwest Airlines plane on Christmas Day.

Aulaqi is a member of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, an affiliate of the main al-Qaeda organization, and has been linked to the Fort Hood shooter as well as the Nigerian. He was thought to be meeting with regional al-Qaeda leaders at a compound in Yemen targeted by a Dec. 24 strike. He was not said to be the focus of the strike, and he was not killed. But U.S. officials said at the time that they thought he might have been killed.
In response to questions from Congressman Peter Hoekstra , the House intelligence panel's ranking Republican who is also the vice chairman, Blair said: "We take direct action against terrorists in the intelligence community. If that direct action, we think that direct action will involve killing an American, we get specific permission to do that."

The question that has been raised by political pundits is: If the (US Constitution’s) Fifth Amendment’s explicit guarantee — that one shall not be deprived of life without due process — does not prohibit the U.S. Government from assassinating you without any process, what exactly does it prohibit?

US Intelligence Director on Sri Lanka mass killings

The Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair in the course of his testimony before the House intelligence committee referring to mass civilian killings highlighted Sri Lanka and explained what motivates for such mass killings said this:

The mass killing of civilians—defined as the deliberate killing of at least 1000 unarmed civilians of a particular political identity by state or state-sponsored actors in a single event or over a sustained period—is a persistent feature of the global landscape. Within the past three years, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Sudan all suffered mass killing episodes through violence, starvation, or deaths in prison camps.

Sri Lanka may also have experienced a mass killing last spring: roughly 7,000 civilians were killed during Colombo’s military victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), according to UN estimates.

The risk for mass killing is driven by the presence of ongoing internal conflict or regime crises, combined with relatively poor socioeconomic conditions, international isolation, recent protest activity, discriminatory policies, or frequent leadership turnover. In such contexts, mass killings are typically deliberate strategies by new or threatened elites to assert state or rebel authority, to clear territory of insurgents, or to deter populations from supporting rebels or antigovernment movements.

- Asian Tribune -

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