Ahmed Farouq and Adam Gadahn were two American citizens who were “suspected” of working with (and being leaders of) Al Qaeda. I say “suspected” because it was pretty clear that the two men were al Qaeda operatives and proudly so. However, they were both also American citizens… until President Obama had them killed, that is.
On Thursday the US government admitted that a drone strike this past January accidentally killed two innocent hostages – American Dr. Warren Weinstein and Italian citizen Giovanni Lo Porto. President Obama expressed regret for the accidental deaths of the two innocent men, “As president and as commander in chief I take full responsibility for all our counterterrorism operations including the one that inadvertently took the lives of Warren and Giovanni. I profoundly regret what happened. On behalf of the United States government, I offer our deepest apologies to the families.”
This same drone strike also targeted and killed Ahmed Farouq and Adam Gadahn. On Thursday reporters wanted to know if the Obama administration was justified in killing them. According to Attorney General Eric Holder’s own definition, killing an American citizen in such a manner is only “legal” when “they represented the imminent threat of violent attack against the U.S. and capture was not feasible.” ABC News’ Jon Karl wanted to know if these simple conditions were met and if that was why the Obama administration carried out the assassination of two Americans.
Sadly, Press Secretary Josh Earnest wasn’t in the mood to be honest today, so he simply evaded, obfuscated and avoided answering the questions.
Jon Karl: Josh, you will not tell us if they were drone strikes.
Josh Earnest: Jon, despite the information I am able to provide about this previously classified operation, I cannot discuss precisely how it was carried out. You can tell us Adam Gadahn and Achmed Farouk were not targets. Does the president regret it.
No. The two individuals you mentioned were leaders of al-Qaeda. They had prominent positions in the al-Qaeda. one was a leader of AQIS. And al-Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent and playing a prominent role in leading that network’s operation and planning in that region of the world. Mr. Gadahn, had styled himself as a prominent spokesperson for al-Qaeda. And it is for that and other reasons that he was indicted by the U.S. government for treason.
Jon Karl: So the administration’s policy on the justification for killing of American citizens in these counter terrorism strikes according to the attorney general, they represented the imminent threat of violent attack against the U.S. and capture was not feasible. Are you saying they represented an imminent threat of a violent attack against the U.S.? That is under your policy is a justified killing of an American.
Josh Earnest: I am saying that these two al-Qaeda leaders were frequenting an al-Qaeda compound. And the United States carried out a counter terrorism operation against those compounds with the intent of taking al-Qaeda fighters and leaders off of the battlefield.
We do that because the al-Qaeda organization is actively planning and plotting against American citizens. as encapsulated in the AUMF. The United States is at war with al-Qaeda and its affiliates because of the way they are planning and plotting against the united states and their citizens.
Jon Karl: What I asked is, did they represent a threat of imminent violent attack against the United States. That is in the words of the attorney general a justified killing of an American…
Is it legal under the guidelines that this administration put in place. Is it legal to kill American citizens who do not represent a threat of imminent attack against the U.S.?
Josh Earnest: What is permissible in international law and in the protocol that the president established that the U.S. will carry out strikes against al-Qaeda compounds this we can assess with near certainty they are frequented by al-Qaeda leaders. That is the operation that took place. And that operation resulted in the death of al-Qaeda fighters and leaders inside of the compound.
Jon Karl: Would it have been illegal to intentionally target those two men?
Josh Earnest: There is a separate procedure and protocol for specifically targeting American citizens.
Did the Obama administration just break the law again? Did they violate the Constitution and get away with it, again? Does anyone outside of conservative circles care anymore?
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