From the Obama Administration’s newly-uncovered memo on when the President is allowed to order Americans assassinated:
The condition that an operational leader present an ‘imminent’ threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.
If there isn’t an attack that will happen in the immediate future, then there’s no legitimate reason not to have the assassination require a judge to review the reasons and sign off, at the very least. (That should be the case for all people targeted for such killings, not just for Americans.) What the Obama Administration wants – and what I expect that both Congress and the press will give, with resistance from only a few Ron-Wyden-like outliers – is absolute, dictatorial authority over life and death. This is corrupt, evil, and will inevitably be abused.
The most shameful thing is that politically, there is only one side on this issue. Pathetically, this is the one and only issue on which the GOP has decided not to question or resist Obama (affordable health care for Americans: Horrible! Fascist! Giving the White House the power to have Americans killed without charge or trial: meh.), so we’re stuck with a two-party system in which neither party’s center objects to the President having a secret, completely unchecked kill list.
Glenn Greenwald writes:
What has made these actions all the more radical is the absolute secrecy with which Obama has draped all of this. Not only is the entire process carried out solely within the Executive branch – with no checks or oversight of any kind – but there is zero transparency and zero accountability. The president’s underlings compile their proposed lists of who should be executed, and the president – at a charming weekly event dubbed by White House aides as “Terror Tuesday” – then chooses from “baseball cards” and decrees in total secrecy who should die. The power of accuser, prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner are all consolidated in this one man, and those powers are exercised in the dark.
From Outside the Beltway:
Whoever ends up succeeding Barack Obama in January 2017, will continue to assert that they too have the authority to target people for killing based on secret proceedings using secret evidence and conducted wholly outside public view, of that there is no doubt. As we have so often done in the past in the area of Presidential powers, we’re going down a very dangerous road here and there’s no telling where it’s going to end.
Conor Friedersdorf. brings up an important point: This memo was uncovered by NBC, rather than being released. Why? Because the Obama Administration prefers to avoid accountability.
On reading the unredacted document, ask yourself, “Why wasn’t this released to the public by the Obama Administration? Which part of its legal reasoning could jeopardize national security in any way? Since it reveals no national security secrets, what possible justification could there be for willfully keeping its contents from Americans, who have a compelling interest in understanding, scrutinizing and debating the legal framework that surrounds extrajudicial killing?
There’s got to be a better system than one that gives us a choice between Tweedledum and Tweedledee on issues like extrajudicial killings.
Via Jonathan Turley.