Monday, October 3, 2011

I'm Proud to be an American

It's official -- I now live in a country where the President can target a U.S. citizen for execution without setting foot in a courtroom, or presenting any evidence whatsoever to the judiciary demonstrating any guilt on the part of the assassinated American.

I know, I know -- we innocent Americans don't have anything to worry about.  If the guy weren't guilty, he never would have been targeted.

He might well   have been guilty, but I always thought we didn't have to take the say-so of the unchecked executive branch.  The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to our Consitution purported to address that little problem.

I know; I sound like a contrarian old asswipe. Our country's at war -- the never-ending, all-empowering war.  We're all in danger.

I can see the bigger danger in the headlines every day.

I elected a lecturer [or full prof?] in Constitutional Law.  A well-regarded Harvard Law whiz.  Who was going to change how the president did business.

He changed all right.

He stopped even paying lip service to checks on the president's power.

Ths guy can kill Americans and declare wars without chatting with anyone in the other branches, but he leaves it up to fucking Congress to draft the stimulus and health care?  The stimulus, his emergency ideas to save the country from economic catastrophe?  But he declares war on his own {watch out, Libya!  You too, Canada!}

I'm so steamed, you don't know.

Bush and Obama are vying for supremacy on the Mt.     Despot


Mister Parker said...

I assume we're talking about all the American citizens who returned home to Germany to join the Nazi cause when WWII broke out and were subsequently killed by FDR and his war machine without so much as a hearing beforehand.

That was seventy years ago -- why so gloomy, Gus?

I kid.

I imagine there's probably some precedent for the notion that an American citizen who moves abroad and joins an enemy who has vowed the kill Americans and carefully keeps himself out of the reach of the American justice system (except when it comes to filing motions in court through his attorneys) might actually be lawfully (under both U.S. and international standards) killed in a military action. Go, right now, to the library and do some research.

And look up Gaff while you're at it ...

Mister Parker said...

Oh, I'm sorry, it occurs to me you might be referring to one of your least favorite presidents, Abraham Lincoln, who oversaw the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of American citizens who had joined the Confederacy and taken up arms against the Union.

I suspect if Meade had met Pickett's Charge with an army of lawyers instead of artillery and bayonets, we'd be living in different countries now.

But at least you'd feel pure ...

mister muleboy said...

Actually, I'm not really looking for purity. I'm looking for an imperious president to acknowledge that there are difficult issues here that should be presented to the people and argued and discussed. Jay Carney's dismissal of the idea that this presents novel and substantial issues of law, and subtle step toward a Bush-like "questioning this is Per Se UnAmerican" strikes me as not just a fun blog topic, but genuinely alarming.

And I think you'd have to concede that this isn't a case of the indiscriminate death of an American citizen who took up arms against ht US and, whilst fighting aside ther Krauts or the Nips, was killed in action. This was a selective decision to identify and isolate one man for execution. And, when the earliest suggestions that he might be such a target prompted civil liberties lawyers to seek judicial review of his targeting, the administration interceded to preclude any representation of that individual or inquiry into his targeting.*

The administration has conceded that it is unprecedented to include a citizen on the "death list," but never stepped forward to make the case. The ParkerPosts seem, to me, to more strongly reinforce why the administration should bear criticism -- if it's a sufficiently easy case to evoke sarcasm (albeit gentle, non-Keanrey-like sarcasm), and the case was unmade and avoided, it evinces the administration's utter disregard for its duty to engage the argument.

If we aren't bothered when they refuse to make the easy cases, when exactly will we wake up to find they're hiding the hard ones as well? As a citizen, I disagree with many of the policy choices in the [current] Patriot Act. But I'm bothered a helluva lot less now, after the administration[s] have finally engaged the critics and made their case, rather than relying strictly on the implication that a critic is a traitor, and a dumb one at that. I'm pretty sure I would have "lost" an argument that the administration was foreclosed from putting a citizen on its death watch; I probably would have been glad to lose -- I live in Manhattan, after all, and I'm constantly at risk. But they shaould have to show up and make the case.

I'd like them to admit they're supposed to make a casse somewhere, somehow. Even the despot Lincoln made his case eventually [with a few notable exceptions].

*Their intercession is distinct from the Treausry Department's approval of representation of a deisgnated terrorist.

mister muleboy said...

Your comments made me picture you jumping up from your computer, all Candace-Bergen-like, saying oh please. . . .

Mister Parker said...

Mmm, Candace Bergen. Big fan.

I'll say this about the drone war on terrorism, that it may have unintended strategic consequences -- the war on terror being primarily a war of ideas and ideology. One must have both a carrot and a stick to sway hearts and minds. And while Al Qaeda has largely lost the hearts and minds of the Arab Street, that's not quite the same thing as saying we have won them.

As for saying the Administration should make a case for killing ol' what's his name, we should come up with some sort of standard. Maybe we already have. Sheer ignorance have never stopped me from yammering ...

mister muleboy said...

Sheer ignorance have never stopped me from yammering ...

Hey hey hey hey hey. . . . boundaries, buster!

You stick to old movies, and I'll handle the ignorance from here, chief.

It's hard enough to get a gig without having poachers step in. . . .

we should come up with some sort of standard. Maybe we already have.

May I respectfully suggest that we already have. It's don't question me !

Word verification? sundicks

I couldn't make this stuff up.

Well, I could. But I didn't. . . .

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

I join Mr. Mule & Mr. Myth in having no tears at all for either al-Awlaki or the murderous knuckleheads (most of 'em aren't geniuses!) who thought it might be a good idea to travel with al-Awlaki in the deserts of fair Yemen unprotected by civilian shields.

Getting vaporized while literally never knowing what hit you is a far better fate than the one they envisioned for you and me and those we love.

Time for the But Paragraph, aint it?

OK then!


I do think it's positively pathetic that this far into the administration's expansion of drone warfare (which of course is way, way beyond what Bush EVER did or as far as we can tell even contemplated), and after months of knowing American citizens were on the kill list, we still don't have a well-reasoned legal justification in our hands.

Jeez! What do we have an Office of Legal Counsel for? An AG for? What, they have something BETTER to do??

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

And another thing! (Naturally!)

I realize that hypocrisy & cognitive dissonance are a politician's stock in trade (name the hokey but true Honest Abe quote that made me think of 'stock in trade' anyone?) but doesn't this give serious vindication to, I don't know who it was (Scalia? Thomas?) in (I don't remember which Guantanamo Bay case it was), who pointed out the difficulty in arguing that it is OK -- perfectly fine & moral! -- to summarily kill an alleged terrorist on sight, but a grievous betrayal of our values to capture him alive and then hold him in Guantanamo Bay until we figure out what to do with him?

So long as Obama contends Guantanamo Bay betrays our values, yet can't get it together to actually, you know, CLOSE it, doesn't he have an incentive to kill rather than capture? No prisoners, no problems! But wait, THAT doesn't sound right ... :-(

Juvenile Buffoon said...

Did somebody mention the OLC?

I found myself instinctively feeling that the al-Awlaki assassination was OK, but like The Mule I would prefer the administration step up and make its case (Jake Tapper's unrelenting cross-examination of Jay Carney was an embarrassment).

Then I found this at Ben Wittes' blog, from a "senior administration lawyer" (whom I suspect is Marty Lederman), in response to Glenn Greenwald's scathing criticism of the assassination:

"I would like to put several relatively straightforward questions to anyone inclined to be persuaded by his argument. If he can answer them without either rhetorical excess or ad hominem comments, so much the better:

Do you agree that a killing that is legal under the law of war is not an assassination and satisfies due process of law?

If an American citizen had joined the German Army during World War II and fought against American soldiers, would the law of war, and due process of law, have permitted American soldiers to kill him?

During World War II, American planes specifically targeted and shot down the plane carrying Admiral Yamamoto, the architect of Pearl Harbor. If Yamamoto had been born in the United States and was thus an American citizen, would this have been legal under the law of war? Would it have satisfied due process of law?

If you agree that Americans fighting against us as part of enemy military organizations can properly be killed in wartime, given that Congress has authorized the use of “all necessary force” against “those . . . organizations . . . he determines planned, authorized, committed , or aided” the 9/11 attacks “in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations, or persons,” what, if any, do you consider to be the relevant differences between Aulaqi and the Yamamoto hypothetical?

As you know, a highly respected judge held that the issue of whether Aulaqi was properly targeted was a political question outside the competence of the judiciary, a decision that Aulaqi’s father did not feel was worth trying to appeal. In light of that how would you propose that the judiciary supervise targeting decisions in wartime?"

These are the arguments I found myself wanting to make, but they are much more succinctly and coherently made here. My frustration is that Obama didn't have this person take the podium at the White House briefing on al-Awlawki, but instead had it leaked anonymously to a blog.