White House Press Secretary Jay Carney could not identify a constitutional principle that would prevent President Obama from carrying out a drone strike on an American citizen in the United States.
“I am not a lawyer and these are the kinds of things that are probably best expressed and explained by lawyers,” Carney said during the press briefing. “There are issues here about . . . feasibility of capture that I think are pertinent to that question.”
The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, in the Bill of Rights, says that “no person shall . . .be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”
A Justice Department white paper emphasized the importance of believing that an American citizen overseas, such as terrorist leader Anwar al-Awlaki, is an imminent threat to Americans when debating a drone strike.
“The condition that an operational leader present an ‘imminent’ threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future,” the white paper, obtained by NBC News, said.
Carney also said that “These strikes are legal, they are ethical and they are wise,” though he indicated that discussion of them at the upcoming CIA director confirmation hearings might not be legal.
“[D]iscussing classified matters in public hearings is generally not an appropriate thing to do or a legal thing to do,” Carney said.