Tags: hoekstra | obama | drones | policy

Hoekstra: Obama ‘Judge, Jury, Executioner’ With Vague Drones Policy

Thursday, 07 Feb 2013 09:40 PM

By Todd Beamon and John Bachman

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Former Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra charged in an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV that the Obama administration drone program must be more transparent because “you can’t have one branch of government being the judge, jury, and executioner.”

“That’s a very, very frightening proposition, but that’s exactly where we are today,” the former GOP chairman of the powerful House Intelligence Committee tells Newsmax. “This should be a much more transparent process.”

And this clarity should come from John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser whose confirmation hearing was held on Thursday for the position of director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Story continues below the video.



Brennan strongly defended the use of unmanned drones in the terrorism battle — and anti-drone protesters stormed his hearing before the Intelligence Committee.

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“He ought to deliver the message from the president to the Congress that they will share the information and that they will let the Congress do the oversight that is necessary,” Hoekstra says.

“The threat is real. We need to be firm — and I’m fine with the use of drones. I’m fine with targeting Americans, as long as there is an articulated process and as long as there is a check on the executive branch’s ability to do that the entire war.”

Earlier this week, a Justice Department memo became public that outlined the White House’s criteria in deciding which al-Qaida suspects to kill, even if no evidence exists of any specific or imminent plans to target the United States — or even if Americans might be involved.

“The threat posed by al-Qaida and its associated forces demands a broader concept of imminence in judging when a person continually planning terror attacks presents an imminent threat,” the 16-page document concluded.

“That memo coming out of the Justice Department was actually an embarrassment,” Hoekstra tells Newsmax. “It says an ‘informed high-level official.’ Who is that? You need to clearly articulate who that individual is or what position that will be. Is it the director of the CIA? Is it the director of National Intelligence? Is it the president? Who or what position has the authority to make that call?

“There are loopholes in it that enable someone to drive a Mack truck through them,” Hoekstra adds. “I don’t think those criteria are defined specifically enough. You need some kind of a check.”

It’s also important to be specific, he says, because the Obama drones policy includes targeting Americans who may be involved in terrorism.

“The president needs to clearly outline for the American people that when their government takes the dramatic step of identifying an American as a threat to their own country — and that the government will take the step of potentially targeting them and killing them — that there’s a process in place in this war against al-Qaida such that we know that these actions will not be carried out lightly,” Hoekstra says.

“The steps are outlined as to who’s involved and where the checks are — those are all very, very clear — so that even if you don’t like the decision or you don’t like the policy, at least we all understand what that policy is and how it will be executed.”

In 2011, U.S. drone strikes in Yemen killed three American citizens: Anwar al-Awlaki, his 16-year-old-son and Samir Khan.

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Al-Awlaki was tied to the planning and execution of several attacks targeting U.S. and Western interests, including the attempt to ground an airliner heading for Detroit in 2009 and the plot to bomb cargo planes the following year.

His son was killed in a separate drone strike on a suspected al-Qaida den. Khan worked on an online al-Qaida magazine and instructed followers on how to carry out attacks.

“There are at least three confirmed cases where Americans were killed by drone attacks and recognition that we need to be prepared,” Hoekstra adds. “This has to come out, and we have to have this discussion.”


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