Attorney General Eric Holder has presented the Obama administration's most detailed justification for armed drone strikes against Al Qaeda leaders, arguing that the U.S. government doesn't legally need judicial review to kill terrorist operatives overseas, even when they're Americans, reports Politico.com. Criticism of U.S. practices intensified after reports in 2010 that New Mexico-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki — killed in a 2011 drone strike — was on a list of terror suspects that the U.S. had decided to target using deadly force.
Holder is the highest-ranking administration official to defend the administration's position, arguing that placing terror suspects on a so-called kill list is subject to “robust oversight” but should not and need not involve the courts. He spoke at Northwestern University Law School. Al-Awlaki's father filed a lawsuit challenging the targeted-killing policy, but U.S. District Judge John Bates dismissed the case, saying courts were unsuited to make the judgments involved in singling out terrorists for death. Holder rejected claims by legal scholars and human-rights groups that the use of lethal force off the battlefield must be limited to instances of imminent threat, such as cases in which authorities have indication that a terror suspect is in the midst of plotting a specific attack.