Asha Rangappa @AshaRangappa_ Fmr FBI Special Agent, lawyer, faculty @JacksonYale. Tiger(ish) mom. @CNN analyst. Editor @just_security. Karaoke, golf, and Shakespeare aficionado. Views mine. Jan. 07, 2020 1 min read

I made the point on @CuomoPrimeTime tonight that the legal definition of "imminence" being used by the White House may not (and likely does not) have the same meaning that we would normally associate with it 1/

2. I was quoting from p. 7 of the 2011 DOJ White Paper (released in 2013) providing the legal justification for drone strikes against a senior operational leader of al Qaeda or associated forces  https://www.justsecurity.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/DOJ-White-Paper-Lethal-Operations-US-Citizen-2011.pdf 

3. As I noted to Chris, that paper has as its premise that the Executive Branch is acting under the 2001 AUMF which gave congressional authorization for the President to use "all necessary and appropriate force" against these targets --

4. The paper notes that al Qaeda and associated forces "demand a broader concept of imminence in judging when a person continually planning terror attacks presents an imminent threat, making the force appropriate" (p. 7)

5. When I cover this in class, I ask my students to try to identify any limits on the concept of "imminence," temporally or otherwise, and really, they can't because the White Paper definition basically turns it on its head

6. Now as far as I'm aware, the WH is not hanging its hat on the 2001 AUMF (though I suppose it could try) -- and since the DOJ definition is tethered to the "appropriate force" language of the AUMF, perhaps in the absence of congressional authorization POTUS has a higher bar

7. But even so, I would think this prior definition would have some influence on how it was interpreted in this strike, and even *some* evidence would be higher than what is currently "required" on congressionally authorized targets

8. Basically, before debating whether the evidence they had demonstrated an "imminent" threat, maybe ask the White House for the legal definition they were using for the strike 🤷🏾‍♀️


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