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‘Kill Americans’ Memo Draws Obama Criticism From Right, Left

kill americans memo 2013

Dubbed the “kill Americans” memo in the somewhat feverish news cycle, a White House leaked missive has caused a bit of outcry on both sides of the aisle due to stated justification for using the already-controversial practice of drone strikes against American citizens.

The “kill Americans” memo is the latest development in what is perhaps the biggest critique of Obama from the left-leaning media, and the leaked confidential Justice Department document details practices for knowingly targeting US citizens with drones.

NBC News obtained a copy of the so-called “kill Americans” memo and explains how similar justifications have been used in the past as the practice of drone strikes increases under the Obama administration:

“The 16-page memo, a copy of which was obtained by NBC News, provides new details about the legal reasoning behind one of the Obama administration’s most secretive and controversial polices: its dramatically increased use of drone strikes against al-Qaida suspects abroad, including those aimed at American citizens, such as the September 2011 strike in Yemen that killed alleged al-Qaida operatives Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan. Both were U.S. citizens who had never been indicted by the U.S. government nor charged with any crimes.”

The renewed drone strike controversy comes, the station notes, as White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan vies in hearings for a spot as CIA director. Last year, Brennan first defended the practice as “consistent with the inherent right of self-defense,” and, since, Attorney General Eric Holder has, NBC reports, “specifically endorsed the constitutionality of targeted killings of Americans,” noting that “an imminent threat of violent attack” makes the use of drones against Americans a constitutionally sound strategy.

Three Militants Killed Drone Strike

According to the New York Times, the “kill Americans” memo states that “judicial enforcement of such orders would require the court to supervise inherently predictive judgments by the president and his national security advisers as to when and how to use force against a member of an enemy force against which Congress has authorized the use of force.”

The paper quotes Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project. Shamsi decries the “kill Americans” memo as a “a profoundly disturbing document,” adding:

“It’s hard to believe that it was produced in a democracy built on a system of checks and balances. It summarizes in cold legal terms a stunning overreach of executive authority — the claimed power to declare Americans a threat and kill them far from a recognized battlefield and without any judicial involvement.”

Iran Claims Captured US Drone Again

The Atlantic cites three justifications in the “kill Americans” memo for drone strikes against US citizens:

“1) That the target is a ranking Al-Qaeda figure.

2) That he or she poses “an imminent threat of violent attack” against America.

3) That capture is not ‘feasible.’ “

A spokesperson for the Justice Department declined to comment on the “kill Americans” memo.

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68 Responses to “‘Kill Americans’ Memo Draws Obama Criticism From Right, Left”

  1. Anonymous

    When the rule of men overcome the rule of law, we will stop being a 3rd world wannabe.

  2. Shea Solliday

    Ok, so if they decide because I believe in The Constitution, the 2nd Ammendment for example, am I a terrorists according to Obama, they can kill me? Witch tribunals, concentration camps, is this the modern version?

  3. Mike Kelley

    Funny how all the wingnutts call CNN ABC CBS NBC bias and liars but when they hear a story negative about Obama all the sudden the believe every word they read. Just goes to show how bias they really are.

  4. Town Crier

    Democracy? Whoa we know we were a republic… Executive order #251600BHO has been issued?

  5. John Tamasik

    just put a towel on your head and the government will kiss your ass just like they do to all of the Muslims….after all we got one in the white house…..

  6. John Tamasik

    just wrap a towel around your head.and they wont bother you….they will kiss your ass like all the other Muslims.After all we have one living in the white house….n

  7. Phoenix Cat

    So because they are Americans…. it is ok to just let them go free and plot to kill our people… UM NO! These traitors left the USA to join our enemies in other countries they are fair game. NO drones are being used on real American's on our own soil. If this were anyone other president it would be no issue, Only you crazy fools think someone is actually going to come after them for what ever reason. Sorry to inform most of you but you are not worth the effort.
    P.S. If you aren't smart enough to realize gun control is just a show for both sides your an idiot. The Mexican Govt has a better chance of defeating the Drug cartels than you have of ever losing your guns. Just a show for both sides so we aren't noticing that wall street is still robbing you.

  8. Sara Kach

    I don't know about the rest of you, but this scares the Hell outta me….and it confirms some peoples' worst fears.

  9. Debra Cabales

    This is kinda like the Benghazi Attacks.Will just sit around and watch innocent Americans die. This is exactly what Obama is doing. Does anyone say IMPEACHMENT? This will be just a fast swept under the carpet, just like Benghazi, Fast and furious and the Seals. How much more will it take before everything is taken a way from us…And no one is hollering for IMPEACHMENT! WTF!

  10. Jeff Kostreva

    if this doesn't wake up america to the truth about obama and his "regime" NOTHING will wake you up until it is too late. If you think you are safe from him because you go along…. you are a fool this is just another in along list of Treason "actions".

  11. George John Prinkey

    This policy is regarding americans who side with terrorists to kill other americans They are not entitled to any constitutional rights and should be killed as any terrorist.

  12. Ursula Wade

    I wonder what all of you that have commented so far would be yelling to the goverment if these people slip through the cracks and enter the US surreptitiously? Then they start bombing, killing and harming US CITIZENS. I bet you'll be the first to start screaming bloody murder about the goverment not doing enough to protect it's citizens. If a citizen outside the US and it's territories decides to do war against their own then they have given up their rights afforded to them by the US Constitution. Their decision. I do not call this policy treason. I call what these terrorists (and they are causing terror) are doing TREASON against the US and all citizens. I just love people that live with their head in the sand their whole life. OPEN your eyes and look at all sides of the story. Are you going to go over to whatever country and arrest the person? I certainly wouldn't want to risk my life or my child or the life of someone else's child to do the job. Another note about the internet- anybody can write anything about anything. THAT DOESN'T MAKE IT SO! Bonjour idiots!

  13. Phoenix Cat

    So you were you for impeachment of Busch? Under his watch alot good people died in Embassy attacks. The Patriot Act which gave him and this Pesident the power totake your rights away….
    Oh wait you probly didn't care about those since the president at the time was a Rep. and White.

  14. Anonymous

    So in other words, this thingy are meant to attack our enemy and Americans who sided with the enemy and holds a threat to other American citizens. Though Obama's plans my seem barbaric, it's still to protect Americans from American traitors. Say for an example that an American left the USA and sided with the people we're in war with and returned with a plot to kill a group of Americans. That drone would keep that from happening from what I AM READING! You can't just read the title and just comment on it. You need to read the whole thing. This has nothing to do with regular criminals and American people against Obama/GOP's. This has to do with public threats that has to be put down before threatening any American citizens.

  15. Michael Lust

    These were Muslims that Obama ordered assassinated, John, so one would wonder what you were talking about… if it were not so clear that you have no idea, yourself. There is PLENTY of valid criticism for Obama… including assassinations on his orders… but the contention that Obama IS a Muslim demonstrates fundamental ignorance about Islam. If you knew even the most basic things about that religion, it would be obvious to you why Obama couldn't possibly be a Muslim. As more than one canny observer has noted, to be effective in conflict, you must know your enemy.

  16. Michael Lust

    I've often thought that the operative definition of "bias", in the lexicon of many a partisan, is "doesn't agree with me".

  17. John Bowser

    More honest than allowing them to be killed with bad drinking water thru "fracking".

  18. Tim Starnes

    If it was in Bush's Presidency…there would be nooooo problem with this. Remember when HE took away your rights for "national security"? How did that TSA xray thing work for ya?

  19. Michael Lust

    You don't know that these people did ANY of those things. You are relying, totally, on the unchecked, and unverifiable claims of the very government officials who ordered this action. Perhaps you do not realize that the government has intentionally LIED to us before, more than once, even took us into war on the basis of pretexts that officials knew to be false (again, more than once). We are citizens of a Republic. We are responsible for what it does, beyond our borders, in our name. We will be HELD responsible, even if we fail to recognize this ourselves. To carry this responsibility we have to KNOW what our government does, and that government MUST be subordinate to the rule of law. These extra-judicial assassinations violate all of those fundamental principles, and you are naive and irresponsible, even cowardly, to shirk your responsibility as an American citizen to demand adherence to the rule of law by our government officials. That failure is not yours alone… but it could well come back to bite us all.

  20. Tim Starnes

    Hmm, "To protect and defend against all threats FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC!" Once they worked with the enemy, they became combatants. They lost any appeal, militarily, once they aided the enemy. This is war, not private citizens saying "I don't like my government! Waaaaa!" This was a terrorist working with terrorists. THAT's why they died, they WERE WITH THE TERRORISTS! Duhhhhhhh.

  21. Michael Lust

    You don't know that these people did any of those things. You are relying on the word of people who have lied to us before… and you aren't even familiar with the specific allegations that have been made… you are assuming they were accused of acts with that sort of gravity. IF political officials can order the killing of one American, with not so much as a criminal complaint or indictment, much less any kind of actual showing, a demonstration of evidence of any kind, or any finding of guilt… then they can order the killing of anyone. If they can order an assassination in Yemen or Pakistan, they can order one anywhere. Once government is permitted such a practice… in the dark… it is impossible to regulate. Secret kill lists? Secret protocols, at the sole discretion of the executive? Since when did we become the Soviet Union?

  22. Michael R. Bridges

    "F"them if they are an enemy of the state and are activley involved in terrorism against us then Kill them all let God sort it out better yet lets behead them publicly… I'm tired of us being so weak.

  23. Michael Lust

    I was. Bush took us into an unlawful war on a false and inadequate pretext. Torture. Guantanamo. These assassinations started on his watch. And were in up to be, we'd be frog-marching Obama off to the same tribunal; not for anything that happened at Benghazi, but for ordering assassinations: murder…. impeachment in the US Senate if we had Senators with backbone and respect for the rule of law, but since we don't, war crimes trials at the Hague.

  24. Anonymous

    I think the scary thing is that they want to start using the drones to enforce America. This may just be is one step leading into another. Our politicians make a lot of mistakes, next they may turn on us its own people. Guns were provided to people to protect against the government if they got to strong. There is no way we have that power now. If we had a rebellion here in the US people would be crushed so quickly. We the people have very little power from Congress and this President. Our democracy has been changing to socialism and a dictator. I am so very sad that people elected this group of thugs again, who knows may be they cheated and we will never know. So I spend about $100 per day just to go to work and have lunch. out of that our gov. gets almost $30 of that in taxes. They take this from all of us every day and they still have a huge budget problem, congress and the president want more? How much do they think they can take before I give up and join any fight I can against them. I'm angry and I want "CHANGE" I would vote to impeach Obama, get rid of congress and senate for doing such a bad job. Where is everyone else?
    We are being treated like servants to the elite. I'm over it.

  25. Samnificent Jonesy

    What people "slipped" through the cracks and entered the U.S. in the last decade? Name some. I'll wait… are making suppositions that are astronomically high as if its "24" or something. If you want to trust your government NOT TO TRUST others and surveil them and in some cases give a kill order, knock yourself out. Other more rational, and informed citizens realize it is a continuing power grab and a threat to Civil liberties and is increasing ever since 9/11. Soon you will not recognize the country you were born in.

  26. Jack Haynes

    he will start by killing white people.

    we all know his family is racist.

  27. Dee Bennett Robinson

    Like this is anything new? We've been doing this crap for a looonnnnggggg time. Decades before Obama.

  28. Thomas Comis

    There is not one word of support or patriotism in your rhetoric. why are you so against the US using its' best tools against the people that want our country and its' people destroyed? you sound like a terrorist yourself planted here for the terrorists' agendas. you sound so paranoid your mother should slap you.

  29. Dave Lenckus

    Since so few of you bothered to read to the end of the article, I'll repost it here.

    The Atlantic cites three justifications in the “kill Americans” memo for drone strikes against US citizens:
    “1) That the target is a ranking Al-Qaeda figure.
    2) That he or she poses “an imminent threat of violent attack” against America.
    3) That capture is not ‘feasible.’ “.

    So now I have to ask: Why are you so opposed to going overseas to take out a defector who is working with a foreign group to destroy America? All of you who contend that this policy could be turned on those Americans who oppose any kind of even reasonable gun control–as the 2nd Amendment clearly requires by guaranteeing states' rights to WELL-REGULATED militias–clearly are not thinking this through. During World War II, we wouldn't have had this discussion if the U.S. military sought out U.S. citizens who defected to Nazi Germany and worked to engineer Hitler's plan to conquer Europe and hobble the United States in the process.

  30. Ursula Wade

    Samnificent Jonesy UUHH!!! The terrorist that flew into the Towers, the Pentagon and in Philadelphia. These are the people I"M talking about.
    To M. Lust: I was very against Bush's actions. But here we are; 2013. In a war against the muslem jihadist expousing death to anyone American and Christian. I take issue with that. Awlaki (Anlaqi) was born in NM in 1971 of YEMEN PARENTS teaching at US colleges. His parents were not US citizens and were only here 1971-1978. He is only a citizen because his family was here when his mother gave birth to him here. Anwar was a radical Islamic cleric. I've seen the utube videos of his before they were taken down. That is not free speech when your are telling anyone, anywhere to kill all Christians and Americans.
    The "American" Civil liberties union needs to desist with the many lawsuits that are costing all of us money. When they started taking up the atheist cause they lost my support. The goverment is only as good as the people voted in but the same ones keep getting voted in time after time.

  31. Antonio Lucero

    That's the beauty of AMERICA!! We give citizenship to those who are BORN on our soil I swore an oath to DEFEND our Constitution from ALL

  32. Jerome Lopez

    You must be living in Alice's world. You do not get it. It is happening now here in the U.S. The Sith Administration side steps any & all, even the so called "Congress"., and has quoted that the Constitution is flawed. Any who tries to stand up to this, are and considered "terrorist".

  33. Rachel L. Rodriguez

    I have news for you. The very freedom we have is falling by the way side. We will be called terrorist for fighting for that very freedom and they can get rid of us with no recourse or remorse. You are not paranoid enough you liberal moron.

  34. Rachel L. Rodriguez

    Yeah and the President of the United States was born in Hawaii and raised in another country, as an American hating Muslim. You speak out of both sides of your mouth. He came back when he was grown

  35. Nicole Varriano

    It's shocking to think how many Americans have willingly thrown away their rights for supposed security. We need protection from our own government as much as from terrorists. You thank you president cares about the people? What about due process and our basic rights as human beings

  36. Nicole Varriano

    Talk about had in the clouds.what if he suspected you of being a terrorist? The whole point of this is not that he wants to kill americans but he wants to do it without any inpu or balance check from our judiciary system. That's not a president thst's a king. So say he did accuse you. He needs no evidentiary proof and no approval from any court to kill yiu. And you in turn have no avenue to defend yourself or stop his agenda. By the way…it'not just on the internt. NBC reported the story first. And just so you know…the word treason only applies if its americans defying the constitution. You can't try a foreigner with treason here. They are only liable for treasonous acts against their own country. You need a dictionary and a refresher course on the constitution.

  37. Phoenix Cat

    So how do you say we handle the enemies of this country? So as long the leaders keep Americans at their sides leave them all alone to plot our end. Sorry but no your only concern is there a black man in office who you didn't vote for.

  38. Phoenix Cat

    Well the great thing is none of you are charge. And if you think for one sencond Mitt wouldn't be doing the exact same thing you are out of you your minds. If the president doesn't ok it the CIA will do it any way or have an ally do it. If you work with our enemies you deserve death. Same for all of you plot to atack our schools, leaders or soldiers you deserve a nothing less. PS Mitt would have been at war with Iran already another bloody war sucking us dry.

  39. Emma Jane Kinard Lepper

    Thomas Comis – Since you feel this way, then you wouldn't have a problem with China, Russia or whomever using drones against their traitors here on American soil right. If they kill a few innocent victims in the process oh well, they should not have been hanging with the traitors anyway. Wake up!!!

  40. Emma Jane Kinard Lepper

    Phoenix Cat – Since you feel this way, then you wouldn't have a problem with China, Russia or whomever using drones against their traitors here on American soil, right. If they kill a few innocent victims in the process oh well, they should not have been hanging with the traitors anyway. Wake up!!!

  41. Emma Jane Kinard Lepper

    Since you feel this way, then you wouldn't have a problem with China, Russia or whomever using drones against their traitors here on American soil right. If they kill a few innocent victims in the process oh well, they should not have been hanging with the traitors anyway. Wake up!!!

  42. Emma Jane Kinard Lepper

    George John Prinkey – Since you feel this way, then you wouldn't have a problem with China, Russia or whomever using drones against their traitors here on American soil right. If they kill a few innocent victims in the process oh well, they should not have been hanging with the traitors anyway. Wake up!!!

  43. Emma Jane Kinard Lepper

    It's called worms, not a can, but a big old drone full of them. This opens up the same rights to our neighbors across the pond. How would those of you who support this like it if Russia, China or some other foreign country in the name of treason decided to implode a droid in NY or Chicago or for that matter the Superbowl to kill one traitor, but killed many innocent AMERICANS? I suppose this would be ok, because they should not have been in the company of the enemy. Wow, wake up people!

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