Skip to comments.Dick Cheney's revenge
Posted on 02/07/2013 1:05:29 PM PST by neverdem
Will the author of the Obama administration white paper on killing U.S. citizens please report for his war crimes trial right away?
If he served in the George W. Bush administration, someone would already be agitating for his extraordinary rendition to The Hague. The white paper outlines why the Obama administration believes that it can kill U.S. citizens without due process if they are senior members of Al Qaeda or an affiliate. This is not a merely theoretical legal question, as Anwar al-Awlaki found out from the business end of a Hellfire missile a few years ago in Yemen.
The left is still furious that the Bush administration waterboarded three captured terrorists in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001. Yet, with a few exceptions, it has blithely accepted the Obama administration’s extrajudicial assassination policy that has killed about 1,000 times as many people.
(Also on POLITICO: Who kept drone memos from Congress?)
During the Bush years, a small army of former Democratic officials, law professors, op-ed writers and bloggers blasted the Bush administration as dangerous and un-American for asserting the executive branch’s war powers in the fight against Al Qaeda, aka “trampling the Constitution.”
Barack Obama was going to be different. We had this on the highest possible authority: Barack Obama. As the junior senator from Illinois in 2007, he set out his alternative vision: “The separation of powers works. Our Constitution works. We will again set an example for the world that the law is not subject to the whims of stubborn rulers, and that justice is not arbitrary.”
(Also on POLITICO: Wyden: Declassify more on drones)
In a speech as president in 2009, he said we are at war with Al Qaeda and must update our institutions to deal with it. “But,” he added, pointedly, “we must do so with an abiding confidence in the rule of law and due process; in checks and balances and accountability.”
The white paper outlines how that looks like in practice. If an “informed, high-level official” of the Obama administration determines that a U.S. citizen is one of the “senior operational leaders” of Al Qaeda or “an associated force” and “recently” involved in “activities” related to a violent attack against the United States, well then, he can be terminated with extreme prejudice.
Note that the high-level official has to be “informed.” This must be what Obama meant when he insisted his policies would respect “due process” and “checks and balances.” He would never allow “poorly informed” officials to decide when the U.S. government can kill a U.S. citizen. That would be outrageous.
The white paper has ignited not quite a firestorm (again, this isn’t the Bush administration), but at least a smoldering ember of brow-furrowed consternation among the president’s supporters and journalistic sympathizers who find the document “chilling.”
They rarely say what their alternative would be. Does a U.S. citizen get an exemption from targeting if he joins Al Qaeda at a high level? Should his status be litigated before he can be targeted, and if so, by whom and for how long and on the basis of what evidence? Can he show up in the court room to confront his accusers, a basic element of the Anglo-American system? Should al-Awlaki have gotten a court-appointed lawyer (assuming Gloria Allred wasn’t available) and access to all the intelligence about him so he could properly contest it? Maybe over Skype from somewhere in the badlands of Yemen?
It is self-evidently absurd. Civil libertarians lament that the argument of the white paper parallels the reasoning of the Bush administration. No kidding.
It’s not for nothing that the author of the white paper sounds like he could have worked for Dick Cheney. The Obama administration’s approach reflects the logic of the laws of war, the structure of American government and the exigencies of the fight against Al Qaeda.
It is well-established by the courts that an American citizen who is an enemy combatant can be treated as an enemy combatant. It is also well-established by the courts that it is not the role of the judiciary to interfere in the executive branch’s conduct of war. When an American citizen joins a shadowy band that is at war with America and operates in areas beyond the reach of law enforcement, he is a legitimate target for our forces.
This is not to say that the white paper is beyond reproach, or that it made sense to keep it secret for so long, but the basic point would seem obvious. Democratic partisans might be confused.They considered Bush a threat to America’s liberty because of his defense of his war powers, yet their hero stands on similar ground. How to resolve the contradiction? Easy. Conclude that they were wrong the first time.
Rich Lowry is editor of National Review.
© 2013 POLITICO LLC
Trash journalism trying to hype this crap. If you are in the company of terrorists, you are done. End of story. I hope we take all of them out and I don’t care what country you are from.
They will never be wrong.
It is the right and correct thing to do when a democrat sleeps in the white house.
It is always wrong for a republican, even if only their face gets wet.
For the first time I have to give Obama some grudging respect for using the drone program. It would have been very easy to continue his Senator BS criticism of Bush policies but I guess he is now privy to what these Islamofascist lunatics are really capable of and the true threat they pose to Americans.
No freaking way Jimmy Carter would have the same huevos.
I'm in complete agreement with Lowry. The drone program is a legitimate act of war.
However, I take issue with your defense of Obama's motives.
In my estimation, the drone assassination program survives because a.) it is the President who chooses the targets and b.) it is the President who gets to review the footage after the event.
Our President enjoys playing God -- he revels in his power of life and death. And he enjoys a good snuff film, so long as he was the Executive Producer.
I don't think it has anything to do with his recognizing the Islamofascists threat to America.
To him, it's a video game. And he's writing the script...
>>>I would withhold judgment pending clarification on just who(m) Obie considers the enemy.<<<
Agreed. I always get the feeling that Obama considers the real enemy to be those clinging bitterly to their guns and religion. Given the power to determine by fiat the affiliation of the enemy, in combination with a Reichstag moment, I could see him targeting Americans right here.
God help us.
I despise liberals.
I would withhold judgment pending clarification on just who(m) Obie considers the enemy.
The GOP in general and the Tea Party in particular...
Stuff our guys can’t get away with:
1. Piling naked prisoners up on each other
2. Taking photos of a prisoner with a bag on his head while he stands on a bucket
3. Making prisoners crawl
4. Putting underwear on a prisoner’s head
5. Flushing the koran down the toilet, but actually NOT flushing it down the toilet
6. Splashing water onto the mouth/nose of a prisoner from a bike squeeze bottle
Stuff a Black Prez can get away with
1. Cancelling without reason plans to close a prison he flamboyantly swore to close
2. Exploding a US citizen into pink mist with a missile, even with no evidence of his guilt in any crime
In the 1980s, in Germany where I was stationed, terrorists were tried in abstentia, and posters were published with their faces and names.
They were generally shot on sight, by the polizei, wherever and whenever encountered. After a certain number of them were X’d off the posters, another poster was printed.
I don't remember the polizei executing any of them in, for example Italy.But if Italy had given consent to the polizei to operate there, than no problem.
A couple of thoughts.
If a US citizen is in the camp of terrorist combatants and is killed during a general strike on the camp, or in a targeted attack on some foreign terrorist leader, that is collateral damage - not intentional - and I don’t have an “extra” problem with that.
IT doesn’t matter if it is a drone attack - a cruise-missile attack - or delivered ordinance from artillery or aircraft.
BUT if our government identifies and targets a known US citizen for such an attack, and killing him is the named, specific and sole reason for the attack? No way.
This is a slippery slope. If being a US citizen means anything, then there is no way our government should be able to assassinate them in this sort of public-policy way by the executive branch alone.
How long until they begin to say that even if they were on US soil, this is more efficient and expeditious?
If this is what they want to do - get a law written, passed by congress, and OK’d by the Supreme Court.
And issue your “Welcome to 1984 on steroids” t-shirts.
Oh? Like spies who are the company of terrorists? Is that why the coverup of Benghazi? Define being in the company of terrorists.
A) We are the United States of America, and are a constitutional republic. We are not a democracy, and we are not Germany or Italy or etc.
B) There is a body of law dealing with outlawry and terms on wanted posters vis-a-vis rewards for capture. In this I don't think there a legal construct that comprises a way of making a list of adjudicated and declared terrorist, who can be killed on sight (i.e. wanted dead or alive). This differs from terrorists or criminals being killed in an armed struggle or firefight, or confrontation resisting arrest.
C) Wanted and reward posters are historical in the western territories, just as now. But not wanted dead or alive in the construct of legal to assassinate on sight.
Some of the homeland security laws we have approved in the US post-9/11 are way over the line of historical personal freedom. It was expedient, but how will they ever be rescinded? How will posse comitatus and due process protect the citizenry from a federal government police force? The department of homeland security has purchased 1.4+ billion rounds of handgun ammo. (...likely purchased for maintaining order and mob suppression in the case of general civil upheaval?)
We aren't Germany. OK.
But the way we are headed, someday we may not be the good ole' USofA anymore.
While you may find some entertainment value in pretending laws are written in pristine vacuums of applied theory, they are not.
I certainly know we aren't Germany, better than you do.
I was a legal alien in Germany.
After passing a required course, I was granted a legal international document, which when combined with my USA drivers license, allowed me to legally drive a vehicle in Germany. What was I doing in Germany? Training and planning on killing anyone who tried to militarily attack Germany. IAW the body of laws. Both those of the USA and Germany.
Some noteworthy articles about politics, foreign or military affairs, IMHO, FReepmail me if you want on or off my list.
If a terrorist is on fire after a drone attack, THEN is it ok to water board him?
Thanks for the ping!
I prefer to dub the process enlightenment.
Obama et al were enlightened by the wonderfully clean attributes of drone technology and capability. I think of it as drone war.
We get reports of the positive results involving the deaths of various commanders here and there. We have little knowledge of what else drones are doing to prosecute the drone war
We don’t know for instance what they are doing in Iran, or perhaps Syria, or for that matter even in North Korea.
It is ironic that the antiwar types can be enlightened by a wonderful new concept and embrace Drown War as their own