The senators — all members of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence —said the American people have a right to know the “limits and boundaries” of the president’s power to take lethal action against them. ‘We believe that every american has the right to know when their government believes it is allowed to kill them.”
U.S. Senators Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Mark Udall, D-Colo., and Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., pressed the Obama administration today for additional transparency on U.S. drone policy, including its interpretations of when it can take lethal action outside of declared war zones and against Americans.
“We believe that the executive branch needs to more clearly define its interpretation of the laws and rules that govern lethal operations outside of declared war zones, and in particular lethal operations against American citizens,” Wyden, Udall and Heinrich wrote in the letter. “Specific details regarding lethal counterterrorism actions will sometimes need to be kept secret to ensure that the U.S. government can act effectively against very real threats to our country, but we firmly believe that the laws and rules that govern the executive branch’s actions should always be public. … We believe that every American has the right to know when their government believes it is allowed to kill them.”
Wyden, Udall and Heinrich have led efforts in Congress to press the White House and U.S. Department of Justice to be more transparent regarding the lethal targeting of Americans, the limits of executive power and the rules for preventing harm to civilians. Their pressure paid off earlier this month when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit released the U.S. Justice Department’s legal justification for the targeted killing of Americans.