During a Google+ Hangout yesterday, Lee Doren, a good guy and libertarian, asked President Barack Obama about his administration’s use of drones against American citizens.
“A lot of people are very concerned that your administration now believes it’s legal to have drone strikes against American citizens and whether or not that specifically with citizens within the United States,” Doren stated. “And if that’s not true, what will you do to create a legal framework to make American citizens within the United States know that drone strikes cannot be used against American citizens?”
“There has never been a drone used on an American citizen, on American soil. We respect and have a whole bunch of safeguards in terms of how we conduct counter-terrorism operations outside of the United States,” President Obama replied. “The rules outside of the United States are gonna be different from the rules inside the United States — in part because our capacity to capture a terrorist inside the United States are very different than in the foothills or mountains of Afghanistan or Pakistan.”
Noting oversight of the program, President Obama explained he was going to work with Congress to provide “mechanisms to make sure the public understands” the drones program. Obama added, “I am not somebody who believes that the president has the authority to do whatever he wants — or whatever she wants — just under the guise of counter-terrorism.”
In September 2011, Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son, both of whom were American citizens, were killed in a drone strike in Yemen. There is little question that al-Awlaki had frequently expressed anti-American sentiments and he may have had ties to al-Qaeda. However, al-Awlaki was denied his right to due process and the case against him was never presented in court to the American people.
While it’s true that the no American citizen has been killed by a drone within our country’s borders, drone strikes have been used against American citizens and given, President Obama’s “kill list,” it’s likely to happen again.