The Use of Lethal Force on U.S. Citizens - Podcast

International & National Security Law Practice Group Podcast  

The Use of Lethal Force on U.S. Citizens - PodcastAs U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (Kentucky)'s filibuster of the confirmation of John O. Brennan, President Obama's nominee for Director of the CIA, demonstrates, Congress is paying close attention to the legal limits on targeting U.S. citizens.  The New York Times has reported that: "Obama administration lawyers have asserted that it would be lawful to kill a United States citizen if 'an informed, high-level official' of the government decided that the target was a ranking figure in al-Qaeda, posed 'an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States' and if his capture was not feasible, according to a 16-page document made public on Monday [February 4]" (February 5, 2013).  What are the legal and constitutional limits of the executive's authority to target U.S. citizens with lethal force?  Does the answer vary depending on the geographical location of the targeted person?  Is action by another branch of government required?  Our experts discuss these and other issues.


  • Mr. Andrew C. McCarthy, Executive Director, Philadelphia Freedom Center
  • Prof. Stephen I. Vladeck, American University Washington College of Law
  • Prof. John Choon Yoo, University of California, Berkeley School of Law
  • Moderator: Mr. Dean A. Reuter, Vice President & Director of Practice Groups, The Federalist Society

[Return to the Practice Groups Podcasts menu]