Mitchell Reports | February 05, 2013
>> mike isikopf with us here still. i did talk to the people in the white house about this. they said that, look, this policy has been very clearly defined publicly defined by john brennan and his speech at harvard by jay johnson , the former head -- the former lead counsel at the pentagon. and by eric holder today. but eric holder seemed to be either conflating or combining imminent threat with ongoing threat. tell me about the memo itself.
>> that is exactly the rub. they have -- it is certainly true that administration officials, all those you mentioned, have articulated that it is the bottom administration policy that targeted killings of americans who are associated with al qaeda are lawful and constitutional under certain conditions, and the first concern is that the individual poses an imminent threat of a violent attack against the united states . in other words, capture is not feasible, and the operation is done according to law or principles. what this memo does, which is not something that has been public, is flesh that out and provide details about what they mean by that, and one of those striking points is when they get to defining imminent threat . they talk about a broader -- the memo explicitly says that they have intelligence that the targeted individual is involved in an active plot against the united states . what they mean is that this individual may have been linked to or involved in threats in the past. there's no evidence they have renounced such activities, and, therefore, one can assume they are posing an imminent threat . it's -- it is a much more broad dance of definition of imindependence.
>> and the chair of the senate intelligence committee , dianne feinstein , who said that she did receive this memo when congress first asked last year for better explanation, still wants to see the actual legal orders and the white house just told me they're not going to turn those over because they feel that that is basically lawyer-client privilege, privilege between the president's counsel in the justice department and him. the other thing here is she did defend the use of this for the killing of al alakhi in yemen because he was involved in supposedly the plot for the christmas bombing .
>> look, there seems to be a consensus within government that he was a bad guy and that we were justified in taking him out. on the other hand, critics will say, he was an american citizen . he had never been charged with a crime.
>> they may have been right about him, but what kind of precedent does that set down the road when maybe it's not president obama in office. others who might have -- even other ideas about who is a threat and who is not.
>> mike, i know you're going to have more on this later on nightly news. thank you very much.