|For Immediate Release
February 25, 2013
Contact: Kathryn Rexrode or Jessica Baker (202) 225-3951
House Judiciary Committee to Hold Hearing on Administration’s Drone-Kill Policy
Washington, D.C. – On Wednesday at 10:00 a.m., the House Judiciary Committee will hold a full Committee hearing on “Drones and the War On Terror: When Can the U.S. Target Alleged American Terrorists Overseas?” The hearing will focus on the legal issues involved in the targeted killing of American citizens overseas by the Obama administration and how best to take due process of law into account in a battlefield situation where the enemy may be a U.S. citizen. Although the Obama administration has condemned the previous administration’s detainee policy, it has freed itself to levy the ultimate penalty.
Earlier this month, a bipartisan group of top lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to President Obama requesting that the Committee be granted the opportunity to review all Justice Department documents pertaining to the legal justification of drone strikes on Americans abroad. Although the Administration authorized the release of these memos to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, it has refused to provide them to the House Judiciary Committee, which is charged with oversight of the Justice Department and the U.S. Constitution.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Constitution and Civil Justice Subcommittee Chairman Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) released the following statements in advance of Wednesday’s hearing.
Chairman Goodlatte: “Oversight of the Department of Justice is a key function of the House Committee on the Judiciary, as is the protection of the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens. It is imperative that the Obama administration provide the Committee any legal documents pertaining to the Administration’s drone-kill policy. The Committee has a constitutional duty to examine the Obama administration’s targeted killing of alleged American terrorists overseas.
“The Obama administration’s decision to impose the ultimate penalty on American terrorists abroad stands in stark contrast of its criticism of the previous administration’s detainee policy. It also raises serious questions about the role of due process during wartime when the enemy may be a U.S. citizen. The Committee must explore these issues and ensure Americans’ constitutional rights are protected at all times.”
Crime Subcommittee Chairman Sensenbrenner: “In his State of the Union Address just days ago, the President promised to engage with Congress to ensure our counter-terrorism policy is consistent with our laws. He promised to respect the checks and balances built into our Constitution to protect Americans from the tyranny of unchecked power. Yet, the Administration has not provided any legal documents on the drone policy to the House Judiciary Committee. The Administration’s secrecy and refusal to engage with Congress raises serious concerns regarding the protection of Americans’ constitutional rights. This Committee is constitutionally charged with oversight of DOJ and protection of the Constitution, and it is our responsibility to examine a policy that involves killing alleged terrorists who are American citizens.”
Constitution Subcommittee Chairman Franks: “The same President who promised to be the most transparent ever has proven to be anything but, including on the issue of the Administration’s controversial overseas drone kill policy. Mr. Obama has also, throughout his Presidency, shown a penchant for operating outside of his Constitutional bounds and without the cooperation of the other branches of government, the roles of which are to provide checks and balances.
“The Judiciary Committee exists, in part, to ensure the Department of Justice does not overstep its bounds, and as Chairman of the Constitution Subcommittee, I am especially interested in a thorough review of all relevant documents related to the drone-kill policy and the constitutional concerns that arise from its enactment.”
The witness list for Wednesday’s hearing includes:
Mr. John B. Bellinger III, Partner, Arnold & Porter LLP;
Mr. Robert Chesney, Charles I. Francis Professor in Law, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, University of Texas Law School;
Mr. Benjamin Wittes, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution. and
Mr. Stephen I. Vladeck, Professor of Law, Associate Dean for Scholarship, Washington College of Law.
All House Judiciary Committee hearings are webcast live at www.judiciary.house.gov. The hearing will take place in 2141 Rayburn. For more information about Wednesday’s hearing, visit http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/113th/hear_02272013_2.html