Maybe that Nobel was a Bit Premature...

Attorney General Eric Holder was in the news recently after discussing the government's use of lethal force against U.S. citizens abroad. According to the Washington Post article linked to above, the Obama Administration's criteria in making the decision to take American lives abroad extrajudicially is based on an 'imminent threat' analysis. The factors that play into this analysis include the 'relevant window of opportunity to act, the possible harm that missing the window would cause to civilians and the likelihood of heading off future disastrous attacks against the United States.' The Post also reported that, 'there are no known U.S. citizens on target lists maintained by the CIA or the military’s Joint Special Operations Command' for what that's worth.

It is undoubtedly very bad people who are targeted by this practice, and there are valid points both for and against it. However, even without passing judgment on the practice itself, this writer can at least make the observation that a certain group of over-enthusiastic Scandanavians who awarded a very new President Obama the Nobel Peace Prize would probably appreciate a mulligan right about now. It is probably also true that many of the people who wanted 'anyone but a Republican' in the last election are less than enthused about repeated extensions of, and additions to, the types of practices Mr. Bush put into place by the Obama administration.

Of course, whether this plays at all into results this November is tougher to predict. My guess is that it won't. After all, Republicans (except perhaps Ron Paul) would be unlikely to knock practices which could be painted as making the US more secure. This is especially true when most of the people against the practice are likely liberal and/or European. Most GOP voters would be just fine with killing enemies of the state, no matter where they are. Therefore, it would be up to traditional liberals to speak out against the practice, and my guess is they would still rather have Obama than Rick Santorum or Mitt Romney, the current frontrunners.

One thing is for sure however; now that these practices are in place, and have been used by both parties, they are going nowhere fast.


  1. Anonymous10/3/12 23:47

    "The factors that play into this analysis include the 'relevant window of opportunity to act, the possible harm that missing the window would cause to civilians and the likelihood of heading off future disastrous attacks against the United States.'"

    A bit disturbing that the phrases "guilt" "innocence" and "evidence" don't even make the cut. In a traditional war, with identifiable armies, this is a non-issue: the guy in the other side's uniform is a soldier, not a crook. But some citizen-terrorists are treated like criminals (e.g. McVeigh) and some darker-skinned citizen-terrorists are treated like "enemy combatants." Should the "window of opportunity" factor into whether American citizens are assassinated?

    Of course, the flip side is the reality of trying to arrest someone in a war zone. The two downed Black Hawks in Somalia provide a powerful demonstration of just how perilous that can be.

  2. Thanks so much for the comment.

    I couldn't agree more that this is a very very difficult subject. I didn't bring race issues into the original post, but there might be something to that. Or it could just be that McVeigh was still in the States when captured as opposed to being in a foreign land.

    In any case, you did a good job of pointing out two competing interests that I myself am struggling with rectifying.