A Defense Department white paper, likely leaked by a Senator on the Intelligence Committee, advocates killing U.S. citizens abroad who are working with terrorist groups…no news there. But it also loosens up the definition of what justifies a drone-launched hellfire hit to the point where Americans will have to trust that the president killed him because some men just need killin’.
Call it the Obama Drone Doctrine, the white paper — which is not classified and does not carry the weight of law — actually expands on previous statements made by White House Counterterrorism Director John Brennan, and Attorney General Eric Holder. Brennan is Obama’s nominee for CIA director, facing Senate confirmation hearings this week.
It’s not an illegal assassination, according to the 16-page white paper, even if the uncharged, unconvicted U.S. citizen doesn’t seem to be planning any specific, imminent attack on U.S. interests. The president can order a citizen killed even if he thinks it might be too risky to capture him.
Even the chattering Left acknowledges that this would have been a huge controversy if it had come up during the Bush administration.
But I’m tired of saying and hearing: “Can you imagine what they would have said if Bush did this?” The Bush v. Obama comparisons get us nowhere.
Let’s examine this on its own merits. Bush is not the benchmark for appropriate exercise of presidential power, the Constitution is.
The real question: “Can you imagine if a president of the United States did this?”