Condemn Legal Case for Drone Strikes against American Citizens

Target: President Barack Obama

Goal: Stand by earlier assurances that drones would not be used to target U.S. citizens

A recent confidential Justice Department memo sheds light on a legal case for drone attacks to be used against U.S. citizens. The memo states that the U.S. government can order the killing of U.S. citizens if they are believed to be a threat to U.S. safety, even if there is no evidence that they are engaged in a plot to attack America. While extrajudicial killings of U.S. citizens by the U.S. government are not unprecedented, this is the first document outlining a case to legalize these attacks.

The chilling memo reveals that the Obama administration has not abided by its assurances to refrain from using drone warfare against American citizens. The memo expands the definition of self-defense or imminent attacks beyond what has been previously described by counterterrorism advisers. It refers to a “broader concept of imminence,” as opposed to definitive intelligence of a plot against the United States. The government would, therefore, not be required to have clear evidence before giving the order to execute American citizens. High-level government authorities need only determine if American citizens have been a part of “recent” suspicious “activities” before targeting them. The document does not define “recent,” or “activities,” giving government authorities the power to determine what is and is not suspicious on their own.

The memo does not appear to be an official legal document, but does mirror other Justice Department “white papers” that argue for the killing of U.S. citizens using drone strikes. It offers extensive arguments to support extrajudicial killings, suggesting for various reasons that such executions would not be against the U.S. constitution and would not be classified as war crimes. This document essentially provides arguments that state that the President should be given the power to assassinate U.S. citizens without evidence and without due process. It makes a mockery of the judicial system that intends to represent all American citizens equally and fairly. Even more unsettling is the secrecy in which this case has been draped; even now the Justice Department has declined to comment on the memo. Sign the petition below to express your disappointment in the possibility of the legalization of attacks against U.S. citizens, and to condemn the President for rescinding his earlier assurances that such attacks would never become a reality.


Dear President Obama,

A recent confidential Justice Department memo has revealed that the U.S. government is considering the possibility of carrying out extrajudicial attacks against American citizens. While extrajudicial killings of U.S. citizens by the U.S. government are not unprecedented, this is the first document outlining a case to legalize these attacks. This case directly refutes your assurances that drone strikes would never be carried out against citizens of the United States.

I am disappointed that such a case is even being considered. Although the document is not official, its extensive arguments in favor of drone strikes against American citizens show how much thought and planning has gone into making such a case a reality. I condemn the use of drone warfare against U.S. citizens, particularly without definitive evidence and due process. This legal case makes a mockery of the laws the U.S. government claims to uphold, and the rights that all U.S. citizens have.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: jnn1776 via Flickr

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64 Signatures

  • Darlene Roepke
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