The Gang of Four Doesn’t Have Access to the Kill List

Particularly given the questions bmaz raised the other day, I wanted to point to something Dutch Ruppersberger, the Democratic Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, had to say the other day. As part of the assurance he offered that the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki was legal, he admitted he doesn’t know whether Samir Khan, the other American citizen killed, was on the government’s kill list, because he doesn’t have access to the list.

Ruppersberger said al-Awlaki was on a special list of individuals that have attempted to attack the United States and are a severe threat to U.S. citizens.

“There’s a process that goes through the National Security Council, and then after that it goes to the president, and then the president then indicates that these individuals are on this list, and as a result of that process we followed it’s legal,” Ruppersberger said. “It’s legitimate, and we’re taking out someone who has attempted to attack us on numerous occasions, and he was on that list. It was pursuant to a process.”

Ruppersberger said he didn’t know if Khan was on the list.

“But Khan was a collateral damage issue here, and I don’t know because I don’t really have access to that list,” Ruppersberger said.

The Gang of Four (or possibly the full Eight, though only the Four have made comments about the killing) is presumably the only review anyone outside of the Executive Branch gives of its decisions to target people, including American citizens, for killing.

But if the Gang of Four doesn’t have access to the kill list, then the only opportunity they’ll have to review the government’s case that the target is indeed a legal target will come at a time when the government already has the person in their sights, presumably with a great deal of time sensitivity.

Yet another reason why this process is inadequate.

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Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz RT @laurenist: Chuck Hagel: another unemployed veteran who had trouble transitioning into the civilian sector...
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bmaz @JimWhiteGNV @BarackObama Who said anything about ending wars?
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bmaz RT @AllThingsHLS: This is the most dysfunctional and disloyal administration since that of Millard Fillmore. http://t.co/qQ9DVWRcTX
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JimWhiteGNV Has anyone explained to @BarackObama that he can't win another Nobel Peace Prize by ending wars he starts or escalates?
38mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @lhartman Nah. Maybe once Hagel does his I can write a really long book review.
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emptywheel @p2wy Are we allowed to rehash old propaganda on the event of your 50th?
47mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel .@foyp I think rather than "Night Operations" they should call it "Tooth Fairy Visits," if we're going to employ euphemisms.
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emptywheel Prediction: Chuck Hagel's autobiographical novel will hew closer to the truth than Gates' or Panetta's did.
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emptywheel RT @icontherecord: Becky willl answer your questions today at 2PM EST at http://t.co/Ooezs0AOE4.
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emptywheel @joanneleon Actually don't think that is universally true. I think there's tremendous cognitive capture though.
56mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @joanneleon Not even just that. Willingness to keep failing using same method would be funny if it weren't so dangerous.
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emptywheel As Obama Embraces Multi-Fronted War, He Fires Chuck Hagel https://t.co/HRfHNfWZcH Can someone figure who'll pay for this now?
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