WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama today walked away from a roomful of journalists, leaving Jay Carney to evade numerous media questions about the administration’s semi-secret, closed-door process of killing American citizens who are tied to jihad.
The numerous questions were prompted by the release late Monday of the administration’s legal brief explaining why it has the legal and presidential authority to kill overseas Americans in al-Qaida, even without a trial or public due process.
“I think you’ve seen in the way that this president has approached them the seriousness with which he takes all of his responsibilities on this,” claimed Carney, moments after Obama walked out of the press room after delivering a short statement on the pending sequester budget cuts.
Numerous reporters asked for more details and officials explanation of how the policy would work, for example, if an American-born jihadi living in the United States was about to launch an attack.
“These issues are best explained by a lawyer,” said Carney.
Obama is a lawyer, and worked as constitutional-law lecturer during the 1990s.
Reporters at the White House event were dissatisfied about Carney’s evasions, but none openly complained or objected.
One reporter called out questions, but fell silent when Carney asked another reporter for a question.
Carney also dismissed a letter from 11 senators seeking more information on the policy, which was used during the deliberations prior to the successful attacks on Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen who urged attacks on American civilians while he was working for al-Qaida in Yemen.
“I have nothing for you on any alleged memos,” he said.
Awlaki was the Muslim son of Saudi immigrants to the United States.
A later missile-attack on Yemeni jihadis also killed Awlaki’s 16 year-old American Muslim nephew. It is not clear if that Awlaki’s nephew was targeted or killed because he was co-located with jihadis in Yemen.
Jihad is Islam’s doctrine of holy war, and according to orthodox Islam, requires observant Muslims to attack non-Muslims until they become Muslims or accept a subsidiary legal status under a Muslim government.
For more than a decade, numerous jihadis in American and Europe, as well as jihad groups, have cited the doctrine to explain their attacks on American and European civilians.
“Questions around this issue are important, and the president takes them seriously,” said Carney, who also refused to schedule briefings or statements to further explain the dramatic policy.
Carney also said the White House would not post the policy on administration websites. Current press coverage is focused on a unclassified description of the policy that was leaked after being sent to the senators’ offices.