In a letter from Attorney General Eric Holder to Congress today, for the first time, the U.S. has admitted killing 4 American citizens in drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan.
The letter is here. It says only Anwar al-Awlaki was targeted for killing. Samir Kahn was killed in the same strike. al-Awlaki's son was killed in another drone strike in Yemen, and Jude Mohammed was killed in drone strike in Pakistan. [More...]
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Through a Freedom of Information request, the ACLU has obtained documents about a U.S. Marshal's experimental project to employ the use of drones for domestic surveillance. The documents are here. One states:
USMS Technical Operations Group's UAV Program provides a highly portable, rapidly deployable overhead collection device that will provide a multi-role surveillance platform to assist in [redacted] detection of targets.
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Via Michael Isikoff at NBC News, here is the 16 page DOJ white paper titled "Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a U.S. Citizen who is a Senior Operational Leader of Al Qa’ida or An Associated Force." Isikoff writes:
It concludes that the U.S. government can order the killing of American citizens if they are believed to be “senior operational leaders” of al-Qaida or “an associated force” -- even if there is no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack the U.S.
The paper has an expanded definition of threat. [More...]
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Speaking at the Woodrow Wilson International Center, White House counterterrorism official John Brennan today defended the use of drones against al Qaeda.
“Yes, in order to prevent terrorist attacks on the United States and to save American lives, the United States government conducts targeted strikes against specific al-Qaida terrorists, sometimes using remotely piloted aircraft, often referred to publicly as drones,” Brennan said.
He defended targeted strikes and the use of drones as "ethical." You can watch some of his statement here.
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The ACLU has released a report on domestic use of drones. Shorter version: They are coming, to be used as tools of law enforcement in spying on all of us.
Unmanned aircraft carrying cameras raise the prospect of a significant new avenue for the surveillance of American life. Many Americans have heard of these aircraft, commonly called “drones,” because of their use overseas in places like Afghanistan and Yemen. But drones are coming to America, and, as an ACLU report concludes, protections must be put in place to guard our privacy
It is anticipated that the FAA will propose new rules early in 2012 that would make it easier for law enforcement agencies to get permission to use drones in the U.S.
The full report is here.
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