The bill would require the director of national intelligence to set up an independent review of the intelligence used as justification for a drone strike no later than 15 days after being notified. The legislation would only pertain to strikes on U.S citizens and permanent residents.
The government relies on a three-pronged justification for targeted killings, according to a white paper leaked earlier this year — the suspect must pose an imminent threat, capture is infeasible and the strike needs to adhere to applicable war principles.
Both senators emphasized their legislation would in no way prohibit or authorize the targeting of American citizens or limit the power of the administration.
“In no way does this bill tie the president’s hands to defend the nation or impede operators from targeting terrorists knowingly engaged in acts of international terrorism against the United States who happen to be U.S. persons,” Rubio said in a statement.
The bill would also require the inspector general of the Intelligence Community and the Intelligence committees in Congress to be alerted to the strikes.
Attorney General Eric Holder told Congress in a letter made public this week that Anwar al-Awlaki — who helped orchestrate the Fort Hood massacre and the “underwear bomber” plot — was killed in a targeted strike in 2011. His death in a drone strike in Yemen had been widely reported.
Holder said three other Americans have also been killed in drone strikes — Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, Samir Khan and Jude Kenan Mohammad — but were not specifically targeted.