U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, introduced a bill last week that would prohibit U.S. forces from targeting and carrying out extrajudicial killings of U.S. citizens.
The bill, HR 6010, is in direct response to an order signed by President Obama recently allowing U.S. forces to target and assassinate U.S. citizens if they are suspected of working with terrorists groups.
The announcement of the measure comes on the heels of a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights challenging the government’s legal authority to prohibit pro-bono lawyers from representing U.S. citizens on lists for targeted assassination without due process.
“The U.S. Constitution cannot be amended for convenience,” Kucinich said in a statement. “The constitutional rights of all U.S. citizens must be protected. The U.S. government cannot act as judge, jury, and executioner.”
Kucinich adds, “It was unacceptable when detainees at Guantanamo were held without due process, especially since many were later exonerated. It is unimaginable that the U.S. would then replace detainment with outright killing.”
The bill states in part, “No one, including the president, may instruct a person acting within the scope of employment with the United States government or an agent acting on behalf of the United States government to engage in, or conspire to engage in, the extrajudicial killing of a United States citizen.”
Critics say individual citizens suspected of involvement with terrorists groups can be targeted for execution and assassinated at anytime, despite being far from any battlefield and wherever they may be.
They add intelligence operations have little transparency, accountability or oversight especially when it comes to the practice of execution style killings of U.S. citizens. Such actions violate international law and the Constitution of the U.S. and raise serious legal concerns.
In February, then Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair admitted that U.S. forces would execute American citizens believed to be associated with terrorists organizations, according to a report by The Raw Story website.
“We take direct action against terrorists in the intelligence community,” Blair told the House Intelligence Committee. He added if “we think that direct action will involve killing an American, we get specific permission to do that.”
President Obama fired Blair in May.
Kucinich, a Democrat, is one of the most progressive lawmakers in Congress. He has openly challenged the constitutionality of several so-called anti-terror laws including the PATRIOT Act, which was pushed through Congress after the September 11, 2001 attacks. Kucinich also opposed the invasion of Iraq and the expansion of the military battle in Afghanistan.
Kucinich says HR 6010 “will protect American’s constitutional right to face their accusers in court.”
“Congress has the responsibility to protect the rights of all U.S. citizens,” he added. “We must reject the notion that protecting the constitutional rights of some citizens requires revoking the rights of other citizens.”
The bill is cosponsored by Congressmen John Conyers, D-Mich., Bob Filner, D-Calif., Raul M. Grijalva, D-Ariz., Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., Fortney Pete Stark, D-Calif., and Keith Ellison, D-Minn.