WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange weighed in on the brewing controversy surrounding the Obama administration's targeted killing program Friday night during an appearance on "Real Time With Bill Maher."
Assange railed against the revelation, made by NBC News earlier this week, that the U.S. government reserves the right to extrajudicially kill U.S. citizens, as long as they are perceived to be "imminent" terror threats -- with "imminence" being given an especially broad definition.
You can be killed by someone in the White House, the president on down, completely arbitrary reasons. You won't know you're on the kill list until you're dead.
Lawyers, if you have a suspicion you might be on this kill list, they can't even represent you. That was the case for our lawyers, the Center for Constitutional Rights, trying to represent Anwar Al-Awlaki -- who was discovered to be on that kill list, and his son -- wasn't even allowed to be his lawyer, because he was part of a proscribed organization.
Anwar Al-Awlaki was an alleged al Qaeda militant whose assassination by drone strike in 2011 engendered a significant amount of controversy, as Awlaki was a U.S. citizen. His 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, who was also a U.S. citizen, was killed two weeks later in a separate drone strike in Yemen.
Assange continued to hammer away at the U.S. government, saying:
...[W]hen an executive can kill its own citizens arbitrarily at will, in secret, without any of the decision making becoming public, without even the rules of procedure, without even the laws behind it being public -- that's why we need organizations like WikiLeaks.
Assange spoke with Maher from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has been living for several months. The WikiLeaks founder is wanted for questioning in Sweden over allegations of rape, which he denies. He has not formally been charged with a crime.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated that Assange faces charges in Sweden. He has not been charged.