Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Obama's assassination policy

This Monday, Attorney General Eric Holder defined due process for the execution of a US citizen as being a secret process in the Executive Branch to decide someone is a "terrorist" who should be killed. No indictments, no presentation of evidence to courts or the public, no fuss, no regrets, no accountability.

The President gave a press conference on Tuesday. None of the press questioners could rouse themselves to question him about it.

And, yes, this particular abusive and un-Constitutional use of Executive power is one that no even Dick Cheney claimed. This leads to a bad end. This disregard of Constitutional limitations on Executive power and warmaking are very much part of what lead Constitutional scholar and Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama to adopt the disastrous Look Forward, Not Back policy that gave Bush officials a pass on torture and assorted other crimes. This process leads only to worse and worse problems until its reversed. It's a breach of the Constitution, and a breach of the rule of law. The fact that any Republican President is likely to be worse doesn't mitigate the seriousness of Obama's policy; it only makes it worse, because it provides political and (to a certain extent) legal cover for more abusive practices in the future by both Republicans and Democrats. It's wrong. And the consequences are seriously bad.

Alyona Minkovski interviews human rights attorney and activist Scott Horton on the policy in The Obama Admins 'Death Committee' The Alyona Show 03/06/2012:

Here's a selection of critical commentary on this issue:

Emily Bazelon, Not-So-Innocent Abroad Slate 03/06/2012

Glenn Greenwald, Attorney General Holder defends execution without charges Salon 03/06/2012

Marcy Wheeler, Emptywheel: How Good Are DOJ’s Reasons for Burying Its Case against Anwar al-Awlaki? 03/05/2012; Eric Holder’s View on National Security: Three Branches. Except for When the Third becomes Inconvenient. 03/05/2012; Congress and Killing Oversight: Eric Holder v. Ron Wyden 03/05/2012; Holder’s Unproven Claims about Anwar al-Awlaki the AQAP Leader 03/05/2012

Abdon M. Pallasch, NU law profs’ questions for Attorney General Holder go unanswered Chicago Sun-Times 03/06/2012:

Professor Joseph Margulies has defended six detainees at Guantanamo and freed five of them.

When many of the professors, students and other listeners rose to give Holder a standing ovation before he spoke, Margulies remained seated, saying he wanted to hear what Holder said first.

"I was disappointed. I defy anyone to read that speech and show any differences between Obama and Bush on these issues," Margulies said. "They both say we are in a war not confined to particular battlefield. ... Both say we can target citizens without judicial oversight and that can happen anywhere in the world[.]"
Peter Van Buren, We Take Care of Our Own: Eric Holder and the End of Rights Huffington Post 03/07/2012:

Like most of the Bill of Rights, the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution is beautiful in its brevity and clarity. When you are saying something true, pure, clean and right, you often do not need many words: "... nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law."

There are no footnotes in the Fifth Amendment, no caveats, no secret memos, no exceptions for war, terrorism, mass rape, creation of concentration camps, acts of genocide, child torture or any evil. Those things are unnecessary, because in the beauty of what Lincoln offered to his audience as "a government of the people, by the people, for the people," the government would be made up of us, the purpose of government was to serve us, and the government would be beholden to us. Such a government would be incapable of killing its own citizens without care and debate and open trial.

With the excuse all tyrants proclaim, protecting the nation, on or about September 30, 2011 a U.S. drone fired a missile in Yemen and killed American Citizen Anwar al Awlaki, born in the United States and tragically devoted to al Qaeda. About a week later, the U.S. murdered al Awaki's 16 year old son. The U.S. had shot at the elder al Awlaki before, on May 7, 2011 under Obama's orders, and under the Bush administration. Before the U.S. government killed his son, attorneys for al Awlaki's father tried to persuade a U.S. District Court to issue an injunction preventing the government killing of al Awlaki. A judge dismissed the case, ruling the father did not have standing to sue. This was the first time in our nation's history that a father sought to sue to prevent the government from extra-legally killing his son. The judge in the case surrendered to his post-9/11 fear and wrote that it was up to the elected branches of government, not the courts, to determine whether the United States has the authority to murder its own citizens by decree.
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