Constitution Daily

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Podcast: Due process, lethal drones and American citizens

February 13, 2014 by NCC Staff


Recent news that U.S. may target another American citizen overseas for death who is a suspected terrorist has reignited a constitutional debate about due process and drone attacks.

Anwar al-Awlaki
Anwar al-Awlaki

It’s been more than two years since a CIA drone killed American-born al-Qaida leader Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen. Several weeks after that attack, al-Awlaki’s teenage son, died in a drone attack in Yemen that targeted another al-Qaida official. Awlaki’s son was also an American citizen.

The Associated Press was the first to report this week that another American citizen who is an al-Qaida member might be placed on a drone kill list, in an unspecified foreign country. The AP said the Justice Department is in the process of building a legal case about the target, who is believed to be planning attacks on Americans overseas.

Drones have been used in lethal attacks for the past decade, after Congress approved the Authorization for Use of Military Force in 2001. But do American citizens, even as enemy combatants, enjoy the constitutional protection of due process? And who determines what that due process is: the executive branch or an independent court?

Joining us to discuss the history of these questions and their resolution are two leading experts on the subject.

Jonathan Hafetz is associate professor of law at Seton Hall University. Prior to joining Seton Hall, Hafetz was a senior attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, and he has litigated numerous cases in the U.S. Supreme Court and federal courts of appeals.

John Choon Yoo is the Emanuel S. Heller Professor of Law at the University of California Berkeley Law School. He also served as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department in the Bush administration, where he worked on issues involving foreign affairs, national security and the separation of powers.

You can listen to this podcast discussion, led by the National Constitution Center's Jeffrey Rosen, using the player below or by clicking on this link: Download this episode (right click and save)

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