Quirk: Should the U.S. president have the right to kill American citizens when conducting counterterrorism operations?

By: /
8 February, 2013
By: Paul Quirk
Phil Lind Chair in US Politics and Representation, Department of Political Science, University of British Columbia

It is far easier to think of circumstances in which a president’s authority to kill U.S. citizens, on the basis of his own findings, would be abused than to think of those that would genuinely require it. Nevertheless, cases that would justify such killings do sometimes occur – or at least could occur. And the situation of being sort of at war with ill-defined entities, located in countries that do not cooperate with U.S. security activities, is long term. Congress should legislate criteria and procedures to control presidential killing of a U.S. citizen, and the intelligence committees should review every instance after-the-fact.

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