National Security Brief: DOJ Memo Outlines Case For Killing American Terrorists

A Justice Department memo obtained by NBC News says that it would be lawful for the U.S. to kill an American citizen if “an informed, high-level official” of the government decided that the target was a top figure in Al Qaeda “or affiliated force” that posed “an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States” and if his capture was not feasible. The memo rules out any judicial review, arguing that “such orders would require the court to supervise inherently predictive judgments by the president and his national security advisers as to when and how to use force against a member of an enemy force against which Congress has authorized the use of force.” Meanwhile, 11 U.S. Senators sent President Obama a letter on Monday demanding access to the secret memos, saying they were considering blocking his nominee to head the CIA and the Pentagon if the memos are not handed over.

In other news:

  • While various Republican senators, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have not ruled out filibustering Chuck Hagel’s confirmation as the next Pentagon chief, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said on Monday that he would not support the 60 vote threshold. Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Richard Burr (R-NC) also said they would oppose the filibuster, and “with the new opposition to a filibuster,” the New York Times writes, “Mr. Hagel will almost certainly head the Defense Department.”
  • Agence France Presse reports: US military officers have endorsed the principle of pre-emptive cyber-strikes if the United States ever faces an imminent and large-scale digital attack, officials said Monday. No formal approval has been issued, but the conclusions of the review signal that President Barack Obama’s administration is ready to embrace pre-emptive cyber attacks as part of military doctrine, officials told AFP.
  • The former head of Israel’s army intelligence said on Monday that Iran could build a nuclear weapon within 4 to 6 months if it made the decision to do so.
  • The New York Times reports: Some 54 countries helped facilitate the Central Intelligence Agency’s secret detention, rendition and interrogation program in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to a new human rights report that documents broad international involvement in the American campaign against Al Qaeda.