August 28, 2015 07:27 UTC

In the News

The Debate Over Targeted Killings

Criticism follows the release of a U.S. Justice Department document on targeting American suspects overseas | IN THE NEWS

People walk on the wreckage of a house destroyed by an air strike last year that was targeting al Qaeda-linked militants, in the southern Yemeni town of Jaar, February 1, 2013.
People walk on the wreckage of a house destroyed by an air strike last year that was targeting al Qaeda-linked militants, in the southern Yemeni town of Jaar, February 1, 2013.

Multimedia

Play or download an MP3 of this story
From VOA Learning English, this is IN THE NEWS in Special English.
 
This week, NBC News reported on a document written by the Department of Justice on the policy of targeted killings of American terrorism suspects. The document is a "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. ”
 
In the memo, the Justice Department says using deadly force in a foreign country against a United States citizen would be lawful if three conditions are met. The first condition is that an informed, high-level official of the United States government has found that the targeted person presents an "imminent threat of violent attack against the United States."
 
The second condition is that capturing the targeted person is not possible, and that the United States continues to monitor the possibility of capture. The third condition is that the operation would not violate the laws of war.
 
The paper details the reasons and conditions that a targeted killing of a United States citizen overseas would be lawful under American and international law.  The department also provides its reasons why these targeted killings would not violate the constitutional rights of American citizens.
 
Some unmanned drone air strikes have targeted American citizens linked to al-Qaida, including Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan.  They were killed in a drone strike in Yemen in September 2011. Neither man had been charged with crimes in the United States.
 
Countries where U.S. drone attacks have occurredCountries where U.S. drone attacks have occurred
x
Countries where U.S. drone attacks have occurred
Countries where U.S. drone attacks have occurred
The paper has resulted in criticism from lawmakers and human rights groups. Critics say it could be used to increase the president’s power to use deadly force against suspected terrorists. Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon says he fears President Obama could be acting as judge, jury and executioner. 
 
"It is the idea of giving any president unfettered power to kill an American without checks and balances that is so troubling. Every American has the right to know when their government believes it is allowed to kill them."  16 seconds – 2.5 lines
 
On Wednesday the Obama administration told the Justice Department to share classified documents on the issue with the intelligence committees in Congress. A group of senators sent President Obama a request to receive the documents. 
 
The shorter, unclassified white paper was released just before President Obama’s nominee to lead the Central Intelligence Agency faced a confirmation hearing. John Brennan is currently the president’s counterterrorism adviser. He has been an active supporter of permitting drone strikes against American citizens suspected of terrorist activities. 
 
Mr. Brennan defended the policy during his confirmation hearing Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee. He said the strikes were done only when no other method could work to protect the safety of Americans. He also said the government would rather capture terrorists in order to gather intelligence from them.
 
"I never believe it is better to kill a terrorist than to detain him. We want to detain as many terrorists as possible so we can elicit intelligence from them in an appropriate manner and disrupt terrorist attacks."
This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Learn with The News

  • Audio China's Slowing Economy Affects Markets Worldwide

    China’s stock market has dropped by more than 40 percent since June. Signs of a slowing economy in China have had effects on other stock markets and raised questions of whether measure to increase growth are enough. More

  • Audio As many as 50 Migrants Found Dead in a Truck in Austria

    The discovery of up to 50 dead refugees in Austria came on the same day as a European migrant crisis meeting in Vienna. Also in the news, President Barack Obama visits New Orleans ahead of the city's 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina; China's stock markets recover after 5 days of losses. More

  • Audio Fighting Climate Change Important to Obama

    President Obama has called climate change the greatest threat to national security. At a clean energy meeting this week, he pushed solar power and other renewable energy sources. His political opponents say his plans will hurt the oil, gas and coal industries and the American economy. More

  • Audio Book Pages Could Provide Safe Drinking Water

    The expression "a thirst for knowledge" may soon have a new meaning for millions of people who have no way to get clean water. Researchers have developed a book with specially treated pages that can make water safe to drink. More

  • Audio Philippines Looking at 'Ecotourism Zone' in South China Sea

    The Philippines has launched a campaign to push for an "ecotourism zone" in the middle of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. Under the plan, tourists could visit Philippine-controlled parts of the disputed area. China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei also have claims to the area. More

Featured Stories

  • Audio Millions with Mental Illness Get Little or No Treatment

    The World Health Organization reports that hundreds of millions of people worldwide have a mental disorder. However, the WHO adds that most get little or no treatment. Learn the vocabulary needed to talk about this important study. More

  • Hoarding

    Video Could Organizing Your Home Change Your Life?

    A new movement in the United States is all about clearing away unnecessary things in your life. A Japanese cleaning expert on clutter is now the hot topic on playgrounds, at work and parties. But can cleaning out clutter really help you succeed at your job or lose weight? Read on to learn more. More

  • Video More Latin for Your English!

    In part two of our series on Latin’s influence on American English, we learn more Latin words and phrases. From popular movies to rock songs, Latin is used very frequently in American English. More

  • Audio Everyday Grammar: We Suggest That You Learn the Subjunctive

    How can we be polite and stress urgency at the same time? The subjunctive offers speakers a polite and diplomatic way to give a command or express that something is very important. Learn how to use it in noun clauses from the Everyday Grammar experts. More

  • Video Movie Shows Rap Group 'Straight Outta Compton'

    The music genre known as gangster, or gangsta, rap was born in the poor, dangerous neighborhood of Compton, in Los Angeles, California. The violence of street life there and tense relations between the community and police influenced the sound. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner
Confessions of an English Learner blog

Tell us About Our Programs