At a recent luncheon at the National Press Club, Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul warned journalists that they could be placed on a “kill list” should the government deem them a threat to national security.
The Associated Press reported that the Texas congressman encouraged journalists and citizens alike to condemn the President’s actions, lest they find themselves placed on the list for their own views.
“Can you imagine being put on a list because you’re a threat?” an exasperated Paul asked. “What’s going to happen when they come to the media? What if the media becomes a threat? … This is the way this works. It’s incrementalism.”
His statements come in the aftermath of the assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen killed by a CIA drone in Yemen last month.
Decisions about whom to place on the “kill list” are reportedly made by secret panel of federal government officials whose deliberations are withheld from public view.
“There is no public record of the operations or decisions of the panel, which is a subset of the White House’s National Security Council, several current and former officials said,” Reuters reported Thursday. ”Neither is there any law establishing its existence or setting out the rules by which it is supposed to operate.”
The role of the president in the process is unclear, although he is informed of the panel’s decisions.
Rep. Paul is not the only critic of the government’s actions.
In a statement last week, ACLU legal director Jameel Jaffer condemned the administration for what he called “a program under which American citizens far from any battlefield can be executed by their own government without judicial process, and on the basis of standards and evidence that are kept secret not just from the public but from the courts.”
“It is a mistake to invest the President — any President — with the unreviewable power to kill any American whom he deems to present a threat to the country,” Jaffer concluded.
Although the Obama administration has refused to release evidence that definitely links al-Awlaki to specific acts of terrorism, it has claimed he was behind two failed terror attempts on American soil.
In a statement made after al-Awlaki’s death, President Obama said it represented a “significant milestone in the broader effort to defeat al Qaida and its affiliates.”