The American Civil Liberties Union is joining tea party activists in opposing the use of armed drones and other counterterrorism operations to kill suspected terrorists, even American citizens.
A recently surfaced Justice Department memo revealed that drones can strike against a wider range of threats, with less evidence, than previously believed.
Both the ACLU and tea party groups cite the Fifth Amendment, which says that Americans are guaranteed due process of law under the Constitution, and that the classified program circumvents that right.
“Everyone has a right to know what the rules are, and that’s what’s been hidden from the American public and even Congress,” ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel Christopher Anders tells Newsmax.
He joins Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who gave the official tea party rebuttal to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday. Paul said: “We will not tolerate secret lists of American citizens who can be killed without trial.”
Obama told Congress in the annual joint session that he “will continue to engage with Congress to ensure not only that our targeting, detention, and prosecution of terrorists remains consistent with our laws and systems of checks and balances, but that our efforts are even more transparent to the American people and to the world.”
The remarks did little to satisfy the ACLU or tea party activists.
“It’s good to have a commitment to that, but there’s no specificity to it,” the ACLU’s Anders said. “We’re not a nation of secret laws.”
Eleven senators — eight Democrats and three Republicans — asked Obama earlier this month to justify the use of the drone program to lawmakers.
The bipartisan group warned it might stall the nominations of John Brennan as head of the Central Intelligence Agency and former Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska as Defense Secretary should Obama not provide the classified information.
Currently, both the CIA and the military are authorized to remotely pilot unmanned, missile-carrying drones against terror suspects.
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