Tuesday, January 30, 2007

If we knew then what we know now...

This is from all the way back in 2002:

(CBS) American citizens working for al Qaeda overseas can legally be targeted and killed by the CIA under President Bush's rules for the war on terrorism, U.S. officials say.

The authority to kill U.S. citizens is granted under a secret finding signed by the president after the Sept. 11 attacks that directs the CIA to covertly attack al Qaeda anywhere in the world. The authority makes no exception for Americans, so permission to strike them is understood rather than specifically described, officials said.

These officials said the authority will be used only when other options are unavailable. Military-like strikes will take place only when law enforcement and internal security efforts by allied foreign countries fail, the officials said.

Capturing and questioning al Qaeda operatives is preferable, even more so if an operative is a U.S. citizen, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. Any decision to strike an American will be made at the highest levels, perhaps by the president.

U.S. officials say few Americans are working with al Qaeda but they have no specific estimates.

The CIA already has killed one American under this authority, although U.S. officials maintain he wasn't the target.

On Nov. 3, a CIA-operated Predator drone fired a missile that destroyed a carload of suspected al Qaeda operatives in Yemen. The target of the attack, a Yemeni named Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi, was the top al Qaeda operative in that country. Efforts by Yemeni authorities to detain him had previously failed.

But the CIA didn't know a U.S. citizen, Yemeni-American Kamal Derwish, was in the car. He died, along with al-Harethi and four other Yemenis.

The Bush administration said the killing of an American in this fashion was legal.

According to CBS Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen, this is legal because the President and his lawyers say so... [read on]

Isn't that comforting? Don't you feel safer now? Oh, what if they make a mistake?

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