Government officials are currently discussing a possible targeted killing of an American citizen who is a suspected member of al-Qaeda. He is believed to be planning attacks against the United States. This debate comes just after President Obama has implemented stricter guidelines concerning drone use.
In the new guidelines, this kind of lethal force is only to be executed “to prevent or stop attacks against U.S. persons, and even then, only when capture is not feasible and no other reasonable alternatives exist to address the threat effectively.” This new definition of terms also includes that the threat the target holds must be imminent and continuous.
In this specific case, the government struggles to find a clear way to get to the American citizen in question, of which his identity and host country have been kept confidential. Officials did share that the country the suspected terrorist is in has been uncooperative, denying any U.S. military action in their country. Because this individual is so heavily guarded, a regular military attack is more dangerous than using missiles. In terms of drone usage, there are currently CIA drones watching him. These drones however cannot attack him, as law prevents CIA drones from striking U.S citizens. Meanwhile, the country in question bans Pentagon drones that could have also been used.
According to the Associated Press, a senior administration official confirmed details of this situation. This official also admitted that it is possible that the president could make an exception to his policy, allowing this drone attack to happen as a one-time thing. Despite being a suspected al-Qaeda member and terrorist planning attacks on the U.S, the case would still have to be made by the Justice Department that killing him is legal and constitutional, as he is still an American citizen.
Personally, I think this would be the time to call Jack Bauer, but unfortunately, he has been retired for a few years now. Word is he will be back in May though, and once again our favorite CTU agent and international hero will fix up matters like these in 24 hours or less! In the meantime, the Obama administration will have to come up with a course of action in this delicate matter.
Do you think an exception should be made so soon after the new drone policy?