The Obama administration is considering lethal force against an American citizen overseas who has allegedly been working with al Qaeda, U.S. officials have told The Associated Press.
In order for the U.S. to launch a drone strike, the Justice Department must first build a case against the man, the AP reports.
Under President Obama’s stricter drone policy, the CIA wouldn’t be able to launch the attack because the man is a U.S. citizen. The Defense Department is the only U.S. agency that can sign off on such drone strikes.The White House refused to comment on the potential operation on Monday, with press secretary Jay Carney saying he "would not discuss particular targets that may or may not be under consideration."
More generally, Carney said that Obama “does not believe it would be constitutional for the government to target and kill any U.S. citizen without due process,” but that “citizenship should not serve as a shield” for Americans who have gone “abroad to wage war against the United States.”
The press secretary would not say whether the president would personally evaluate any hypothetical drone strike against a U.S. citizen.
One source told the Associated Press that the military is unsure whether the man under consideration for the drone attack is dangerous enough to kill.
According to multiple officials, the suspected terrorist lives in a country that won’t allow U.S. military action on its soil.
The AP agreed not to identify the name of the country where the man is believed to be, because officials said doing so could interfere with counterterrorism operations.
The report comes just days after The Washington Post reported the administration has sharply reduced drone strikes in Pakistan.
One senior official, however, rejected the report’s claim that the administration changed its drone strategy to help peace negotiations that country.