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Drones: a war without rules

A report this weekend in The New York Times raised more questions about President Obama's secretive drone program.

A report this weekend in The New York Times raised more questions about President Obama's secretive drone program.

According the report, the administration began preparing for a possible Romney presidency earlier this year by collecting rules outlining the parameters under which drones might be used. With the president re-elected, the rules, according to the Times, are being drafted at a "more leisurely pace."

On Now with Alex Wagner Monday, guest host Ari Melber spoke with Jameel Jaffer of the ACLU, which is suing the administration to get more details about the highly-classified program. "They're right to be worried about how a future administration would use these powers," said Jaffer. "They've carved out these very broad powers, essentially the authority to kill anyone who is deemed by the executive branch, deemed by the president to be a threat to national security, can be killed without due process, can be killed without charges."

Since President Obama took office four years ago, the number of drone strikes have dramatically increased. In Pakistan alone, the New America Foundation estimates, at least 1,900 people have died. During strikes in Yemen, drones have targeted and killed American citizens suspected of being terrorists.

The intensity and secrecy with which the president has waged a remote-control war has taken his liberal allies by surprise. Four years ago, Obama promised that the rule of law would not be a casualty of the war on terror. "I have said repeatedly that there should be no contradiction between keeping America safe and secure and respecting our Constitution," said Obama in 2008.

He went on to say:

"What I have also said is this: that when you suspend habeas corpus, which has been a principle dating before even our country. It is the foundation of Anglo-American law, which says very simply: if the government grabs you, then you have the right to at least ask, 'Why was I grabbed' and say, 'Maybe you got the wrong person.' The reason you have that safeguard is because we don't always have the right person. We don't always catch the right person. We may think this is Mohammed the terrorist. It might be Mohammed the cab driver. You may think it's Barack the bomb thrower, but it might be Barack the guy running for President."