Memo sets rationale to kill Qaida-linked Americans

Updated 05 February 2013
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Memo sets rationale to kill Qaida-linked Americans

WASHINGTON: An internal Justice Department memo says it is legal for the government to kill US citizens abroad if it believes they are senior Al-Qaeda leaders continually engaged in operations aimed at killing Americans.
The document, reported Monday by NBC News, provides a legal rationale behind the Obama administration’s use of drone strikes against Al-Qaeda suspects.
The 16-page document says it is lawful to target Al-Qaeda linked US citizens if they pose an “imminent” threat of violent attack against Americans, and that delaying action against such people would create an unacceptably high risk. Such circumstances may necessitate expanding the concept of imminent threat, the memo says.
“The threat posed by Al-Qaeda and its associated forces demands a broader concept of imminence in judging when a person continually planning terror attacks presents an imminent threat,” the document added.
A September 2011 drone strike in Yemen killed Anwar Al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, both US citizens.
The memo does not require the US to have information about a specific imminent attack against the US But it does require that capture of a terrorist suspect not be feasible and that any such lethal operation by the United States targeting a person comply with fundamental law-of-war principles.
“A decision maker determining whether an Al-Qaeda operational leader presents an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States must take into account that certain members of Al-Qaeda ... are continually plotting attacks against the United States” and that “Al-Qaeda would engage in such attacks regularly to the extent it were able to do so,” says the document.
The document also says that a decision maker must take into account that “the US government may not be aware of all Al-Qaeda plots as they are developing and thus cannot be confident that none is about to occur; and that ... the nation may have a limited window of opportunity within which to strike in a manner that both has a high likelihood of success and reduces the probability of American casualties.”
With this understanding, the document added, a high-level official could conclude, for example, that an individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States where he is an operational leader of Al-Qaeda or an associated force and is personally and continually involved in planning terrorist attacks against the United States.
The American Civil Liberties Union said the document is “profoundly disturbing.”
“It’s hard to believe that it was produced in a democracy built on a system of checks and balances,” the ACLU said.
The document says that the use of lethal force would not violate the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution when a targeted person is an operational leader of an enemy force and an informed, high-level government official has determined that he poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the US
The document said the courts have no role to play in the matter.
“Under the circumstances described in this paper, there exists no appropriate judicial forum to evaluate these constitutional considerations. It is well established that ‘matters intimately related to foreign policy, and national security are rarely proper subjects for judicial intervention,’” the white paper said.


France charges two ex-spies with passing secrets to ‘foreign power’

Updated 25 May 2018
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France charges two ex-spies with passing secrets to ‘foreign power’

  • Two former French spies, one of whom was reportedly posted in Beijing, have been charged with passing intelligence to a “foreign power,”
  • French media reports, citing sources close to the inquiry, said China is suspected

PARIS: Two former French spies, one of whom was reportedly posted in Beijing, have been charged with passing intelligence to a “foreign power,” a disclosure that has rocked the country’s intelligence services.
Defense Minister Florence Parly, who oversees the country’s General Directorate for External Security (DGSE), said Friday that she was not in a position to identify the country which recruited the agents, who were discovered and indicted in December.
“Two French agents in our service and probably one of the spouses of these agents are accused of serious acts likely to be considered acts of treason, on suspicions of delivering information to a foreign power,” Parly told CNews television.
“I can’t say much else,” she added.
“France has partners but we live in a dangerous world, and unfortunately these types of things can happen.”
French media reports, citing sources close to the inquiry, said China is suspected.
Parly said the agents were “quite likely” still in service at the time but investigators were still determining how long they had been passing along intelligence.
She also declined to specify the nature of compromised information, nor to reveal if the two agents were working together.
A judicial source told AFP late Thursday that two of the three suspects are being prosecuted for “delivering to a foreign power information that undermines the fundamental interests of the nation” and “compromising the secrecy of national defense.”
“One of them has also been charged for direct incitement to the crime of treason,” the source added.
The third person — believed to be the wife — has been indicted for “concealment of treasonable crimes” and placed under judicial control, meaning they are subject to certain constraints pending trial, according to the same source.
The armed forces ministry said: “These acts of extreme gravity have been detected by this service, which has brought these facts to its knowledge to the Paris prosecutor.”