An unlikely coalition of liberal Democrats and libertarian Republicans has raised legitimate questions about the
Barron is believed to have written at least one memo on that subject as acting assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel early in the Obama administration. This week, Sen.
This page long has called for the administration to release to the public any memos setting forth the legal arguments for targeted killings of U.S. citizens. But that isn't something over which Barron exercises any control, and it's not a justification for holding his nomination hostage. An entirely separate (and legitimate) question is what his legal advice about targeted killings says about his legal scholarship and his qualifications to be a judge. The
Much of that legal rationale already has come to light in speeches by administration officials and the release by the Justice Department of a 16-page "white paper" apparently drawn from the memo written by Barron. That document argues that it is legal to kill a U.S. citizen abroad if he is a "senior operational leader of Al Qaeda or an associated force" who can't easily be captured and who poses "an imminent threat of violent attack" against the U.S. (That sounds restrictive, but questions persist about what the administration means by "imminent.")