NBC has released a Justice Department memo that makes a legal case for killing Americans using drone strikes, without any justifiable cause.

Via NBC News (h/t Memeorandum):

A confidential Justice Department memo concludes that the U.S. government can order the killing of American citizens if they are believed to be “senior operational leaders” of al-Qaida or “an associated force” — even if there is no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack the U.S.

The 16-page memo, a copy of which was obtained by NBC News, provides new details about the legal reasoning behind one of the Obama administration’s most secretive and controversial polices: its dramatically increased use of drone strikes against al-Qaida suspects abroad, including those aimed at American citizens, such as the September 2011 strike in Yemen that killed alleged al-Qaida operatives Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan. Both were U.S. citizens who had never been indicted by the U.S. government nor charged with any crimes.

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The secrecy surrounding such strikes is fast emerging as a central issue in this week’s hearing of White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, a key architect of the drone campaign, to be CIA director. Brennan was the first administration official to publicly acknowledge drone strikes in a speech last year, calling them “consistent with the inherent right of self-defense.” In a separate talk at the Northwestern University Law School in March, Attorney General Eric Holder specifically endorsed the constitutionality of targeted killings of Americans, saying they could be justified if government officials determine the target poses “an imminent threat of violent attack.”

Will there be wall-to-wall coverage of this on all networks?  Where is the outrage?  Nothing on par to the criticisms of the Bush administration.  No Code Pink coverage.  No Cindy Sheehan watch.

In short – torturing terrorists – Bad!  Killing Americans without proof – Meh.

Perhaps Kirsten Powers, a liberal commentator on the Fox News Network, pointed out the contrast in the best terms, criticizing the President himself.

President Obama blasted Bush for waterboarding 3 al-qaeda operatives, but has no trouble KILLING Americans, w/no ‘specific evidence.’

Joe Scarborough, MSNBC’s token moderate Republican, even referred to the news as “terrifying”, and added, “If George Bush Had Done This, It Would Have Been Stopped”.

It would have been stopped because the liberal media would have made this all about how evil President Bush was.  Instead, Obama will get a pass.  The controversial Gitmo pictures which showed abuse of Taliban prisoners was national news for months on end.  A kill memo for American citizens?  That will be forgotten in short order.

But it’s not just the media saying this memo is no big deal.  According to Powers, Congress has known about the kill memo since last June.

If Congress and the media are unwilling to hold the President to a higher standard, who will?