Huffpost Politics

Here's What Bothers Keith Ellison About Obama's National Security Programs

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WASHINGTON -- Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) said Monday that the "assassination" of American citizens under President Barack Obama's drone warfare program is unacceptable, and called the scope of surveillance activities carried out by the National Security Agency "disturbing."

"Assassination, we shouldn't do it," Ellison told HuffPost Live's Zach Carter. "If there is somebody violating the law, we should arrest them and try them in a court of law. The problem is that the technological ability to carry out war and assassination has far surpassed the rules that we govern our society by."

WATCH Ellison's comments in the video above.

The Associated Press reported Monday that the Obama administration is currently seeking a legal justification to carry out a drone strike against an American citizen believed to be a member of Al-Qaeda. The administration has already killed at least two Americans with drones. One targeted radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, while another separate strike killed his teenage son.

Ellison, who co-chairs the House Progressive Caucus, said, "I think this binary thing -- either you have to have drones, or you have to have boots on the ground -- is a false choice, and I resist it."

Ellison also took issue with the NSA's surveillance activities, saying the programs need to be subjected to greater Congressional oversight.

"Right now, I'm a little concerned about the fact that theres a lot of things going on that members of Congress don't know about that are not subject to any accountability," Ellison said.

A new report from journalists Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald revealed that the Central Intelligence Agency is increasingly relying on so-called cell phone "metadata" -- call logs showing who individuals call, how long they talked, and other information -- instead of traditional human intelligence sourcing. The Obama administration has repeatedly defended the gathering of such data by the NSA as consistent with constitutional privacy rights.

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