February 6, 2013

NOBEL PEACE PRIZE UPDATE: White House, Congress square off over Justice Dept. rules for drone strikes.

Lawmakers went on the offensive shortly after details of the memo became public, demanding Department of Justice (DOJ) officials disclose additional information on the specific legal arguments justifying unmanned drone strikes against Americans.

The DOJ memo, first reported by NBC News, outlined the criteria U.S. military or intelligence officials must follow before it can launch a targeted drone strike against terror suspects — even if those suspects happen to be American citizens.

If a suspect can be proven to pose an imminent threat to U.S. national security, and it is not feasible to capture the individual, a drone strike becomes an option, Justice Department officials wrote.

But a strike must be conducted in line with the international laws of war, officials added.

“[The] analysis is now public and the American people can review and judge the legality of these operations … [but] the committee continues to seek the actual legal opinions by the Department of Justice that provide details not outlined in this particular white paper,” Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif) said in a statement Tuesday.

A bipartisan group of 11 senators, including Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), sent a letter to the White House also requesting more information on targeted drone operations overseas, according to recent reports.

Hey, remember the fierce moral urgency of change? Me neither.

Related: Unseen censor can black out broadcast of Guantánamo tribunal hearings. Hopey-changey!

UPDATE: Reader John Taylor emails: “Will the people involved in drafting the memo (let alone implementing it) be subject to the same scarlet letter treatment as John Yoo?” Of course not. They work for the Nobel Peace Prize President.