Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Taking The Low Road

In today's Spokesman Review we read about Attorney General Eric Holder defending the decision to kill a U.S. citizen living abroad.

Holder presented a three-part test for determining whether killing an American citizen is legal: "...the government must determine after careful review that the citizen poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the U.S., capture is not feasible, and the killing would be consistent with laws of war."

Thank goodness there's a careful review.

How did we get to a position that would've been considered abhorrent 20 or 30 years ago? Congress did not declare war. It passed an authority to use military force. We are not warring against a country. In response to an attack by a fanatical religious terrorist group we established a Global War on Terrorism. Where before we treated terrorism as a crime, we elevated its status to one requiring a military response. We compiled lists of terrorists and their organizations resulting in a definition so broad and encompassing Congress had to pass a bill stating the African National Congress was no longer a terrorist organization so Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa and former leader of the African National Congress, could travel unrestricted to the United States.

Fear played a huge part if escalating and justifying our response as it still does today. It would be more appropriate for the If You See Something, Say Something program to apply to our own government's actions.

The Guardian has a more thorough version of the article.

"Any decision to use lethal force against a United States citizen – even one intent on murdering Americans and who has become an operational leader of al-Qaida in a foreign land – is among the gravest that government leaders can face," Holder said. "The American people can be – and deserve to be – assured that actions taken in their defense are consistent with their values and their laws."
"The constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process."

And now, after careful review and consistent with our values(?) and laws(?), due process means we can kill American citizens with a missile launched from an unmanned aircraft.

I wonder what our response would be if another country killed one of its citizens in the U.S. and justified it by saying, "This was done only after careful review determined that the citizen posed an imminent threat of violent attack against us, capture was not feasible, and the killing was consistent with laws of war."

"Oh, and sorry about the innocent civilians we took out with him."

*** Update
The New York Review of Books blog has a thoughtful article on this subject.


Anonymous said...

"The constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process."

This is what Fascism sounds like.

Anonymous said...

Here is what the head of the US Justice (!) Department believes about due process:

It doesn't involve access to the courts, or judgment by our peers, despite hundreds of years of such protections since the Magna Carta in Anglo-American law, the explicit guarantees and separation of powers structure in the US Constitution, and hundreds of years of US Supreme Court interpretation.

Instead, "due process of law" now means a secret meeting of the NSC, members appointed by the Executive, a body not even mentioned in the Constitution, whose decisions can be neither known nor appealed.

Anonymous said...

A victory for the 1%. Obama replaces judges and juries with people like Wall Street lackey Tim Geithner, giving them the ultimate power.

It's particularly sad to listen to elite African-Americans like Holder and Obama disparage due process, the heart of the 14th Amendment Their Klanish arguments are not
so novel in US history.

Of course what they are doing is telling both Muslims and the 99% that we have fewer rights than they do. Consider the brutal suppression of Occupy's civil liberties, the illegal surveillance of Muslims at prayer, and there is little difference in Obama's policy at home and abroad.

We no longer have a democracy.

Anonymous said...

Given what we know of the military/CIA makeup of the National Security Council, plus Obama's signing of the anti-Constitutional indefinite detention without trial law, I see Holder's speech as more an acknowledgment of a partial coup d'etat.

What stays constant is the power of the military/CIA to murder and detain Americans without due process of law, either at home or abroad. Presidents and AG's come and go, but the military's power to crush democracy increases despite changes in administrations.

Perhaps unintentionally, Holder is just alerting Americans to the real anti-democratic power shift that has already taken place.

Anonymous said...

America's version of the Nuremburg Laws. Muslims are officially lesser citizens.

Now that the cops and Feds have mapped out all the Muslim businesses, mosques, and homes, when will the American Kristalnacht occur? Or, will it be a virtual version of the Japanese internment camps? A drone for every citizen Muslim? Is that why Obama legalized domestic drones, to coincide with the end of due process?

Perhaps we'll see as soon as Obama pulls the trigger on the Middle East war.

Fascinating how the media and political parties--and the public-- are marching in lockstep behind the President.

As much 1934 as 1984.

Anonymous said...

Barrack Obama and Eric Holder murdered a 16 year old US citizen in violation of Federal statutes, not just the US Constitution. The murder is also a war crime and human rights violation under international law, particularly because of the age of this victim (and others murdered with him).

Obama and Holder are not really advancing a novel due process interpretation. This is personal--they are abusing their power to evade culpability. .

ChefGus said...

My "oath of office" as an Army Captain in 1968 was to "Protect the Constitution against all enemies "Foreign" and "Domestic". My view on this topic is that we have "Domestic" enemies of the Constitution and they are in high office. Start wearing your dog tags again folks. John Olsen