A newly-released Justice Department “white paper” laying out the legal argument by the Obama administration for the targeted killing of Americans has come under scrutiny by alarmed members of Congress.
The undated and unsigned document asserts that it would be lawful to kill a U.S. citizen who poses an “imminent threat” to the United States. To date only one American, Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Muslim cleric, has been killed under the authority claimed in the memo.
"That may be true so far," said a member of the United States Senate, who refused to be identified, "but the administration seems to be claiming unprecedented authority to act against American citizens. Under certain circumstances, you could see how the broad powers they’re asserting might include the right to shoot members of Congress.
"Heck, we’ve done more to endanger the American people than Al Qaeda ever did."
When informed of the senator’s comments, Attorney General Eric Holder reportedly replied, “Hmmm. Interesting.”
"I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t deeply concerned," said a ranking member of the House minority, who also asked that his identity be kept secret. "The way this body handled the debt crisis, our constant attempts to destroy the safety net, our refusal to deal with global warming or gun control, our continued opposition to health care reform—if all that doesn’t qualify as an imminent threat to the safety of Americans, I don’t know what would."
His remarks were echoed by a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner.
"We do not believe the Obama administration can just claim the authority to kill Americans without due process of law."
"There’s no telling where this could lead," he added. "It might start with Al Qaeda, but there’s a dangerous slippery slope here. Under the broad language of that memo, you could make a pretty darn good argument for blowing up the entire House.
"Then again, if something unfortunate happened to that weasel Eric Cantor, I doubt the Speaker would shed too many tears."