You might want to take a look at Noah Feldman’s op-ed at Bloomberg on the Obama Administration’s white paper on targeted killings. If Dr. Feldman’s reading is correct, the administration’s views on the subject have important intrinsic contradictions. Unlike some of the supporters of the administration’s actions who believe that in war all rules are discarded, the administration apparently accepts the requirement for due process. They just won’t say what the requirements of due process are:
Astonishingly, the white paper follows its summary of these decisions with the bald assertion that a citizen outside U.S. territory can be killed if a high-level official determines that he poses an imminent threat, it would be unfeasible to capture him and the laws of war would otherwise permit the killing.
The non sequitur is breathtaking. Awlaki wouldn’t receive notice, the opportunity to be heard or a hearing before a decision maker. In other words, he would receive none of the components of traditional due process — not even one. How the absence of due process could be magically transformed into its satisfaction is never stated or explained. All we get is the assertion that a target’s interest in life must be “balanced against” the government’s interest in protecting other Americans. On this theory, no due process would be due to those accused of murder, because their lives would have to be balanced against the government’s interest in protecting their potential victims.
Feldman goes on to catalogue the Obama Administration’s denial of due process in the case of Anwar al-Awlaki.
More on the same subject and in a similar vein from Small Wars Journal. Hat tip: frequent commenter Andy.