WASHINGTON – Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to outline the legal framework for targeted killings of Americans overseas in a major speech at Northwestern University law school, an Obama administration official said Sunday night.
Holder’s speech today comes five months after the killing of U.S.-born al-Qaida cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen in a drone attack.
The official said the attorney general plans to say that lethal force is legal under a Sept. 18, 2001, joint congressional resolution.
The Authorization for Use of Military Force enacted a week after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks authorizes the use of all necessary force in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States.
The official said Holder also will address how the Obama administration reformed military commissions and how both the Obama and the George W. Bush administrations have successfully used civilian courts to convict and sentence terrorists.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the contents of the speech haven’t been released.
In recent months, the Obama administration has engaged in an internal debate about how much to reveal about the legal justification for the al-Awlaki killing.
At least three recently filed lawsuits have sought to force the Obama administration to publicly release its legal justification for the drone strike that killed al-Awlaki. The justification is contained in a secret Justice Department memo.
Korean envoys could meet at U.S. forum
SEOUL, South Korea – A South Korean official said that the rival Koreas’ top nuclear envoys could meet during an unofficial security forum in the United States this week.
Both envoys are scheduled to attend the three-day forum in New York starting Wednesday. It follows a breakthrough disarmament-for-aid deal between Pyongyang and Washington last week.
A meeting between the Koreas is important because the United States has said that Pyongyang improving ties with Seoul is crucial to any diplomatic resolution of the nuclear standoff.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Byung-jae said today that no meeting between the envoys has yet been arranged at the forum but they could still meet.
North Korea has ramped up rhetoric threatening Seoul in recent days.
Church closer to leaving denomination
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The 4,000-member First Presbyterian Church in Colorado has taken another step toward leaving its denomination.
Almost 90 percent of the Colorado Springs congregation on Sunday voted in favor of proceeding with efforts to leave the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
The Colorado Springs Gazette reports that, in an informal vote, 88 percent voted to split and align with a newly formed governing body, the Evangelical Covenant Order.
Ministry official Alison Murray told the paper that the church will proceed with the split and soon take a formal vote, probably in late April.
KRDO-TV reported that senior Pastor Jim Singleton cited disagreements with the denomination’s direction, including a decision last year to allow the ordination of gay and lesbian clergy in committed relationships.
Church leaders are expected to vote this summer on whether to allow ministers to officiate at same-sex weddings.
The First Presbyterian Church is one of the largest in the nation to belong to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).