Right Thinking From The Left Coast
Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one. - Albert Einstein

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Right To Kill

This is one of those rare times when I think we ought to take Glenn Greenwald seriously:

At this point, I didn’t believe it was possible, but the Obama administration has just reached an all-new low in its abysmal civil liberties record.  In response to the lawsuit filed by Anwar Awlaki’s father asking a court to enjoin the President from assassinating his son, a U.S. citizen, without any due process, the administration late last night, according to The Washington Post, filed a brief asking the court to dismiss the lawsuit without hearing the merits of the claims.  That’s not surprising:  both the Bush and Obama administrations have repeatedly insisted that their secret conduct is legal but nonetheless urge courts not to even rule on its legality.  But what’s most notable here is that one of the arguments the Obama DOJ raises to demand dismissal of this lawsuit is “state secrets”:  in other words, not only does the President have the right to sentence Americans to death with no due process or charges of any kind, but his decisions as to who will be killed and why he wants them dead are “state secrets,” and thus no court may adjudicate their legality.

I can maybe understand how an American President might order a US citizen to be assassinated.  I think of the Cold War and what we might have done had a high-level agent defected to the Soviet Union.  But the criteria for killing a US citizen outside of a battlefield needs to be set pretty high.  It needs to be a last resort, if capturing or extraditing them is impossible and their continued presence is a clear and massive danger to US security.

Obama is now claiming not only to have this power, but to have no check whatsoever on it.  Again, think outside of this specific circumstance.  He is claiming that any America overseas can be killed at any time by his own government and we just have to trust that it was necessary.  This is a step too far even for some Bush people (as Greenwald quotes).

If you believe the President has this power, you believe the President pretty much has any power.  And you also ignore the plain language of the Constitution, which was written specifically to prevent our government from doing this:

No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court

It would be one thing to try this guy in absentia with proper precautions to keep classified information from leaking.  It’s another thing entirely for the executive branch to declare him an open target and never have to justify it.  Balko:

If there’s more tyrannical power a president could possibly claim than the power to execute the citizens of his country at his sole discretion, with no oversight, no due process, and no ability for anyone to question the execution even after the fact . . . I can’t think of it.

This an utter disgrace.  And if either the Right or the Left were serious about both liberty and adherence to the Constitution, they would be going ape-shit about it.  It should not matter to the Left that it’s “our guy” doing this.  It shouldn’t matter to the Right that Awalki is a supposed terrorist.  This is wrong.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 09/27/10 at 04:28 PM in War on Terror/Axis of Evil  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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