Not altogether clear what threats affect national security these days. Offenses against the Motherland might soon fit.
It is striking that Brennan, who just before this exchange complained that people “are reacting to a lot of falsehoods” about Obama’s “targeted killing” program, did not take this opportunity to declare that the president does not think he has the authority to order the summary execution of suspected terrorists within the United States. Is that a secret too?
You might surmise from the scenario described in the Justice Department white paper that was leaked this week—a senior, operational leader of Al Qaeda or an allied group who poses an “imminent threat” and whose capture is “infeasible”—that targeted killings within the United States are out of bounds. But the white paper itself makes it clear that there may be other circumstances where killing an American citizen is OK. There clearly are other circumstances where killing foreigners is OK.