Feb 10, 2014 8:33 PM by Connie Murphy
WASHINGTON (AP) - The White House is making no public comment about how the U.S. might deal with an American citizen who is a member of al-Qaida -- and who, U.S. officials say, is actively planning attacks against Americans overseas.
The officials say the administration has been wrestling with whether to kill him with a drone strike -- and how to do so legally under a stricter new targeting policy issued last year.
White House spokesman Jay Carney says he can't comment on specific operations. But he pointed to Obama's comments last May about drone policy. Back then, Obama said that when an American is waging war against the country from overseas, and is plotting to kill Americans, and when the U.S. and its partners aren't in a position to capture him, then his U.S. citizenship shouldn't serve as a shield for him.
Under the guidelines Obama addressed in that speech, lethal force can only be used "to prevent or stop attacks against U.S. persons" -- and when the person can't be captured. The person also must pose "a continuing, imminent threat" to Americans.
The new policy says American suspected terrorists overseas can only be killed by the military, not by the CIA.
In this case, the person is in a country that refuses U.S. military action on its soil. The CIA drones that are watching him are not allowed to strike, because he's a U.S. citizen. And the Pentagon drones that could target him are not allowed into the country where he's hiding.