A YEAR ago, Attorney General Eric Holder first spoke in public about the Obama administration’s program to target and kill US citizens overseas. At the time, it seemed an extraordinary assertion of power, and certainly one that no president had previously dared to make. Holder’s speech was intended to reassure skeptics that the White House took this power very seriously. He explained to his audience in somber tones that targets would have to be deemed an “imminent threat” whose capture “was not feasible.”
To some, such vague terms were cause for even greater alarm. For Congress, however, they calmed the waters — at least for a year. With the exception of a few steady critics like Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, most elected officials have quietly gone along. In fact, neither the Senate Intelligence Committee nor its House counterpart has ever held a public hearing on the drone programs — let alone the targeted assassination of US citizens.