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Senate Intelligence Committee Approves Rubio & King Amendment to Provide Independent Check on Targeting Decisions

Nov 6, 2013 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence yesterday voted to approve an amendment authored by U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Angus King (I-ME) that would require 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 located outside the U.S. who is involved in international terrorism. The provision, which Senators Rubio and King originally introduced in May as S. 1035, the Targeted Strike Oversight Reform Act of 2013, was adopted as an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2014 Intelligence Authorization Act.  The Committee approved the Authorization Act by a vote of 13-2 on Tuesday.

“I am pleased that the committee approved this measure to require an additional, independent review before the authorization of any lethal strikes against U.S. Citizens engaged in international terrorism overseas,” Senator Rubio said. “This commonsense legislation also improves accountability and oversight of counterterrorism policy by requiring this and future administrations to share important information about these programs with Congress and the intelligence community’s inspector general. By approving this measure, we’re improving the balance between keeping our country safe from terrorists who plot against our people, and the accountability and oversight that are touchstones of our constitutional democracy.”

“Our amendment aims to provide an additional layer of accountability within the decision-making process when the government concludes that a U.S. person is engaged in international terrorism and that lethal force against them may be necessary to prevent an attack,” Senator King said. “In such a distinctive case, this amendment would ensure that an independent group – or ‘red team’ – reviews the facts and that the details of that review are shared with the Congressional Intelligence Committees. As I have said repeatedly, the executive branch should not serve as the judge, the jury and the executioner in these cases, and I believe this amendment is a vital step forward in balancing our critical national security needs with the basic constitutional rights that we cherish as Americans.”  

The Rubio-King amendment is identical to S. 1035, the Targeted Strike Oversight Reform Act of 2013, which 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