The criteria Obama uses to determine who he will personally order to be assassinated has remained a mystery, until now. A memo [PDF] describing the criteria used to determine whether or not somebody will be the target of a drone launched missile has been leaked. Needless to say the justification is fairly loose:
A confidential Justice Department memo 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 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 memo states.
Read the entire ‘white paper’ on drone strikes on Americans
Instead, it says, an “informed, high-level” official of the U.S. government may determine that the targeted American has been “recently” involved in “activities” posing a threat of a violent attack and “there is no evidence suggesting that he has renounced or abandoned such activities.” The memo does not define “recently” or “activities.”
In other words due process gets thrown out the window if an some state agent believes you’re somehow involved with al-Qaeda. The best part about this is that it’s legal. Think about that.