Holder Defends the Right to Kill Americans Attorney general: Killing American terrorists is not 'assassination' By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff Posted Mar 5, 2012 6:07 PM CST 89 comments Comments Attorney General Eric Holder surveys the room before speaking at the Northwestern University law school, Monday, March 5, 2012 in Chicago. (AP Photo/Brian Kersey) (Newser) – Eric Holder made his long-awaited speech today on the legality of America hunting down and killing its own citizens, the Washington Post reports. In a speech at Northwestern University in Chicago, the attorney general argued that an Oval Office review of the facts regarding any American amounted to "due process" in the eyes of the law: “Where national security operations are at stake, due process takes into account the realities of combat." The notion that President Obama must seek permission from a federal court before attacking a US citizen who holds a leadership position in al-Qaeda "is simply not accurate," said Holder. In making the decision to strike, Holder said the Obama administration considers whether the target is an "imminent threat" who might harm civilians if not attacked within a certain period of time. Holder didn't mention Anwar al-Awlaki by name, but his killing last September sparked a debate on Obama's right to kill US citizens abroad.