“Just before becoming President, Barack Obama told his transition team that the rule of law should be one of the cornerstones of national security in his Administration. In retrospect, I believe that President Obama made a conscious decision three years ago to bring into his Administration a group of strong lawyers who would reflect differing points of view. And, though it has made us all work a lot harder, I believe that over the last three years, the President has benefited from healthy and robust debate among the lawyers on his national security team, which has resulted in carefully delineated, pragmatic, credible, and sustainable judgments on some very difficult legal issues in the counterterrorism realm—judgments that, for the most part, are being accepted within the main- stream legal community and the courts.
“This afternoon, I want to summarize for you, in this one speech, some of the basic legal principles that form the basis for the U.S. military’s counterterrorism efforts against al Qaeda and its associated forces. These are principles with which the top national security lawyers in our Administration broadly agree…”