Target: United States Attorney General Eric Holder
Goal: Oppose execution-by-drone of American citizen without trial
Leaked information has revealed that the United States government is considering whether to kill an al Qaeda leader located in an unspecified country that refuses any US military presence. The alleged al Qaeda operative has plotted attacks on Americans and continues to plan future attacks. However, he is an American citizen and the choice to execute him without a trial constitutes a violation of the right to due process guaranteed by the US Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
What has been reported suggests that the Obama administration is still deciding whether to act or not. Though reportedly the Pentagon has already recommended lethal action, Obama’s own stricter drone policy requires certain conditions to be met before the Justice Department authorizes an extrajudicial killing. To be justified, the execution must be an attempt to eliminate “a continuing, imminent threat to U.S. persons” only used when “capture is not feasible and no other reasonable alternatives exist to address the threat effectively.”
The country where the operative is located is incapable of capturing the man and refuses to allow military operations to enter the country. Thus, the Justice Department will likely argue that alternatives are exhausted. Yet, the United States knows where the operative is located. There must be a multilateral solution. For instance, faced with the prospect of a drone attack, the country may be more open to an extraction mission by US military personnel.
Terrorism is a serious threat. Yet, there can be no absolute security so fear must not compromise the United States’ principles of justice and human rights.
Encourage the attorney general to remain committed to constitutional and human rights. Tell him to refuse to authorize a drone strike on an American citizen.
Dear Attorney General Eric Holder,
Drone strike executions of American citizens can only be justifiable in extremely rare circumstances. Reports say that you again have power to decide whether the circumstances are right to kill an American al Qaeda operative in an unnamed foreign country. As you make your decision, keep in mind that there are alternatives the administration can use. Consider, for example, using the threat of drone strike as a negotiating tool with the country that refuses a US military presence.
Even if other alternatives seem ineffective, every attempt must be made to prevent the execution of another American citizen without trial. Violating constitutional and human rights to due process is not worth the illusion of better security because total security is impossible. Do not authorize the execution of this American citizen and encourage the pursuit of alternative efforts to capture him.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson via Wikimedia Commons