That’s what it takes to order a drone strike on an American citizen, as Adam Serwer notes.
If a high-ranking administration official does it, it’s not illegal. At least not when we’re talking about ordering the death of an American citizen the administration believes to be associated with Al Qaeda.
That’s the conclusion of a Department of Justice “white paper” obtained by NBC’s Michael Isikoff, who published it Monday night. The paper outlines the Obama administration’s legal rationale for the targeted killing of US citizens suspected of terrorism abroad.
American citizens can be killed overseas if:
(1) An informed, high level-official of the U.S. government has determined that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States.
(2) Capture is infeasible, and the United States continues to monitor whether capture becomes feasible; and
(3) the operation would be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles.
This is not limited to drone killings, and pertains to al Qaeda members or its “associated forces.”