One day after the Obama Administration disclosed more information about its policy for using lethal force against terrorist targets outside the U.S. and areas of active hostilities, U.S. Senators Angus King (I-ME) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), both members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, today introduced the Targeted Strike Oversight Reform Act of 2013 or TSOR Act. The measure requires that an independent alternative analysis, commonly referred to as a "red-team analysis," be conducted if the government is considering the legality or the use of targeted lethal force against a known U.S. person.
"Our nation is facing serious threats to our security -- and it is vital that our government have the tools and the authority to prevent terrorists from killing Americans. I also firmly believe that the Executive Branch being the prosecutor, the judge, the jury, and the executioner is very contrary to the traditions and laws upon which this nation was founded. As such, earlier this year I proposed the creation of an independent process to provide an appropriate check on the executive branch's procedure for determining whether using lethal force against a U.S. citizen would be lawful," Senator King said. "Over the last several months I have discussed this concept with my colleagues, my constituents, and top national security officials. Today, I am proud to announce that Senator Marco Rubio and I are introducing a bipartisan bill to ensure an independent alternative analysis is conducted in the distinctive case of a U.S. person who is engaged in international terrorism against our country. As the President takes steps to shed more light on these policies, I believe this bill will complement those efforts by providing the framework for an independent review of such consequential decisions. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Intelligence Committee and in the Senate to pass this straight-forward proposal at the earliest date possible."
"What this bill does that is unique is require an independent review of Administration activities that target American citizens or U.S. persons for lethal strike," Senator Rubio said. "This legislation provides a new layer of accountability and ensures the American people are informed through prompt notification to the congressional intelligence committees. In no way does this bill tie the president's hands to defend the nation or impede operators from targeting terrorists knowingly engaged in acts of international terrorism against the United States who happen to be U.S. persons."
The Targeted Strike Oversight Reform Act of 2013 would ensure independent oversight of cases where the head of a U.S. intelligence agency has determined that a U.S. person is engaged in international terrorism against the U.S., and the government is considering the legality or the use of targeted lethal force against that individual. In such cases, the TSOR Act would trigger several notifications and independent reviews, including:
Notification to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI)
Requirement that the DNI establish an independent "red-team," led by an individual who does not report to the intelligence agency making the determination, to conduct an alternative analysis and report its findings within 15 days
Notification to the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community
Notification to the congressional intelligence committees regarding the identity of the U.S. person and the results of the red-team alternative analysis
In early February, Senator King wrote to Senators Feinstein and Chambliss, Chair and Vice Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committeerespectively, requesting that the Committee consider legislation to provide an appropriate check on the executive branch's procedure for determining whether using lethal force in a foreign country against a U.S. citizen would be lawful.
The letter was a follow-up to Senator King's suggestion to John Brennan during his confirmation hearingthat he, as well as the Senate Intelligence Committee, consider creating an independent alternative analysis in the case of a targeted-strike against an American citizen who is engaged in international terrorism. In his response, Mr. Brennan indicated that he and the Administration would be open to a discussion about the Senator's proposal.
President Obama in his State of the Union Address also pledged to keep Congress fully informed of his counterterrorism efforts, stating, "In our democracy, no one should take my word that we're doing the right thing."