October 10, 2011

SECRET DEATH MEMO: Reader Mike Fitzmorris emails, “What would John Yoo have said?”

The Obama administration’s secret legal memorandum that opened the door to the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born radical Muslim cleric hiding in Yemen, found that it would be lawful only if it were not feasible to take him alive, according to people who have read the document. . . .

It was principally drafted by David Barron and Martin Lederman, who were both lawyers in the Office of Legal Counsel at the time, and was signed by Mr. Barron. The office may have given oral approval for an attack on Mr. Awlaki before completing its detailed memorandum. Several news reports before June 2010 quoted anonymous counterterrorism officials as saying that Mr. Awlaki had been placed on a kill-or-capture list around the time of the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner on Dec. 25, 2009. . . . The document’s authors argued that “imminent” risks could include those by an enemy leader who is in the business of attacking the United States whenever possible, even if he is not in the midst of launching an attack at the precise moment he is located.

This is all sounding kinda familiar, somehow. . . .

Related: “Gosh, who knew that John Yoo had gone back to work for the Obama Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, writing memos under the nom de plumes ‘David Barron’ and ‘Martin Lederman.'” It’s “Marty” to those of us who knew him in law school. . . .

Plus, John Yoo himself weighs in: “We should be thankful that Obama officials have quietly put aside the arguments they made during the Bush years that any terrorist outside the Afghani battlefield was a criminal suspect who deserved his day in federal court. By my lights, I would rather the Obama folks be hypocrites in favor of protecting the national security than principled fools (which they are free to be in the faculty lounges both before and after their time in government).”

Ouch.

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