Thursday, December 1, 2011


John F. Kennedy said: “Those who make peaceful evolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable.”Evidently those who are purported to be our elected leaders are willing to risk such an American Revolution.  

They have: been party to the ruination of the world’s economy,  protected the Wall Street and Banking interests from any prosecution for their blatantly criminal actions, sanctioned the right of a Privileged Corporate Personhood superior to and above the laws that govern you and I, determined that the usage of the term “War On Terror” gives them license to transform The United States of America into a Corporate, Fascist, Military Dictatorship, convinced that a million people will never rise up and roll into Washington DC and force them to act in accordance with our laws and our will.

The day will come when they will be proven wrong and those who advocate Gandhian tactics of protest will be cast aside, when occupiers will become resistors and agents of rebellion. People are power, and when the people decide that they have had enough; there will be hell to pay in this nation from an armed and enraged citizenry. 

Only the most naive and cowardly will cling to the notion that peacefully our corroded and corrupted system can to repaired, restored, improved from within. It is too late for that. The powers that be see a road to total control of this nation and domination of its citizens and they will not be stopped by laws, courts and political theater. The day of America’s Blood, Fire and Steel answer to our oppressors fast approaches. The congress may indeed turn America into a War Zone, but it will not be to the one they envisioned! (Ed.)

New York Times (blog) - 19 hours ago
The Senate is debating the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes a series of provisions that mandate military interrogation and detention for ...

"The Constitution is being destroyed. So wake up," talk show host Lionel said. Lionel is just one among many on the Internet caught up in a flurry of fear following the U.S. Senate's decision to keep a controversial provision in the Defense Authorization Act of 2012.

"The homeland is now the battlefield," he added. Two sections of the law coming under question, which give the government authority to detain people, including American citizens, while hostilities al Qaeda continue. Sections 1031 and 1032 have bi-partisan support, included in the act with unanimous approval the Armed Services Committee, according to Senator John Boozman. "But that could be forever since it could be at least one member of al Qaeda available," said UALR William H. Bowen School of Law Dean John DiPippa.

"The Supreme Court has never really addressed the question of indefinite imprisonment. It's always assumed an end would come, but it's never directly addressed under what circumstances that would happen for terrorist suspects on trial." According to DiPippa, there are Constitutional questions that crop up. The American Constitution keeps Congress from suspending the Writ of Habeas Corpus, or a citizen's right to contest imprisonment in their own country without a charge, unless it is during a time of national rebellion. The Supreme Court has determined that the War on Terror did not qualify as such a rebellion. But the text of Section 1031 and 1032 make it clear that the intended outcome is for terrorist suspects to be turned over to military personnel. The Defense Department would then handle procedure from there, instead of the Justice Department as is typical in civilian prosecutions.

"Americans could be subjected to life imprisonment. Think about that," said Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota) addressing the Senate from the chamber floor. "We are talking about people who are merely suspected of a crime. And we are talking about American citizens.

If these provisions pass, we could see American citizens being sent to Guantanamo Bay," said Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) also speaking out against the provisions.

"Today, someone must stand up for the rights of the American people to be free. We must stand up to tyranny disguised as security." It's one of the first examples of actual bi-partisan support on both sides of the issue.

Both Republicans and Democrats, like Senators John Boozman (R-Arkansas) and Mark Pryor (D-Arkansas) voted for these provisions to remain in the bill. While Democrats like Franken and Republicans like Paul spoke against them. Senator Boozman said he approved the measure, because it only applies to members of al Qaeda and their affiliates. "This is an effort to make it very very narrow so we don't lost the rights we have," Boozman said. "It only applies to members of al Qaeda or their affiliates who are actively planning or participating in an attack against the United States." Supporters of the provisions said that American citizens can be considered "enemy combatants" if they are suspected terrorists, based on a decision by the Supreme Court.

They often cite Hamdi v. Rumsfeld from 2004, where the Supreme Court determined Yaser Esam Hamdi, a U.S. national captured in Afghanistan, could be held by the military but not be denied Habeas Corpus. "As I read the law, it doesn't really change the law as it applies to American citizens," DiPippa said. "It doesn't mandate that citizens be handed over to military custody. They would still be entitled to the Write of Habeas Corpus, under the law. But the Supreme Court has allowed that the president does have the power to detain American citizens.

" The issue at hand here is whether American citizens suspected of terrorism would be subject to trial through military tribunals instead of civilian courts. Senator Boozman said that's the way it should be. "Planning an attack on America is not a criminal act. That's an act of war," he said. "So that should be handled in a military court rather than just a criminal court, just like members of the military are tried in a different system." Paul would agree, if the provisions limited that to American citizens actively engaged in a battlefield or an actual war zone.

"The detainee provision would expand the universe to include any person said to be "part of" or "substantially" supportive of al Qaeda or Taliban. These terms are dangerously vague. More than a decade after 9/11, the military has been unable to define the earmarks of membership in or affiliation to either organization," Rand said in his address to the Senate.

"Some say that to prevent another 9/11 attack we must fight terrorism with a war mentality and not treat potential attackers as criminals. For combatants captured on the battlefield, I tend to agree." So, will visiting an al Qaeda website or calling someone in Afghanistan land you on the terrorist watch list?

Dean DiPippa said probably not. But the probably is what has people raising the red flag.

"War on Terror: the magic incantation that turns your brain off," Lionel added to his explanation of the detainee provisions. Many are left wondering if the War on Terror has turned Uncle Sam into Orwell's Big Brother.

President Barack Obama has said he will veto the entire bill if it includes these provisions. Political speculators find several reasons for that.

These provisions inherently limit the President's authority and discretion to pursue threats to American security as Commander in Chief.

Furthermore, the Obama administration doesn't seem comfortable with the legal implications and constitutional questions the issue is raising, either.

The move "would raise serious and unsettled legal questions and would be inconsistent with the fundamental American principle that our military does not patrol our streets," the White House said in a statement.

The Senate plans to move forward on the bill on Thursday. Read more at

As I writer I cast my net far and wide for "temperature checks" on various issues, and I can tell you that whether it is Tea Party, mainstream GOP, the Ron Paulers, apolitical sports forums, it is the same: no one can believe this is happening.  In the heated discussion rooms of the blogosphere I have never seen such agreement among people who loath each other and have never agreed on a single thing.  

Even ("Take a byte of of liberalism") greets the ACLU like they were old pals.  The S. 1867 National Defense Authorization Act to be voted on tomorrow in the Senate:

...would define the whole of the United States as a “battlefield” and allow the U.S. Military to arrest American citizens in their own back yard without charge or trial.  “The Senate is going to vote on whether Congress will give this president—and every future president — the power to order the military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians anywhere in the world. The power is so broad that even U.S. citizens could be swept up by the military and the military could be used far from any battlefield, even within the United States itself,” writes Chris Anders of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office.

True, it is no secret that Constitutional rights have been steadily eroded since 9/11, but until now, politicians have at least had the decency to to be wary of how people might react.  The changes have been subtle and couched in assurances that wholesale erasure of rights are not the case.  Jose Padilla was arrested on American soil, yes, but he was stepping off a plane on the last leg of a return trip from a "battlefield."  The Military Commissions Act of 2006, according to Yale law professor Bruce Ackerman,

"...authorizes the president to seize American citizens as enemy combatants, even if they have never left the United States. And once thrown into military prison, they cannot expect a trial by their peers or any other of the normal protections of the Bill of Rights."

However, there has been some disagreement among legal scholars over whether the Act includes American citizens because it does not exclude them, leaving some measure of ambiguity.

And although Obama ordered and carried out the extrajudicial execution of an American citizen, Anwar Al-Awlaki, earlier this year, defenders of the policy argue that, again, the setting was a "battlefield" outside the United States, in this case a car on the highway in Yemen.  
In the National Defense Authorization Bill S. 1867, for the first time since 9/11, there is to be no ambiguity, no doubt as to the intent of the senators.  Given the chance to strip out the offending provisions, 61 senators made abundantly clear that burying the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is their clear intent, and voted against the change.  The senators were told point blank by Senator Lindsey Graham,one of the co-sponsors of the provision, in a speech on the Senate floor:
“1031, the statement of authority to detain, does apply to American citizens and it designates the world as the battlefield, including the homeland.”

The Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees:

"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence."

There is no need to guess or argue anymore.  Graham said it.   Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) declared that the bill is needed because “America is part of the battlefield.”  Some who have apparently not heard Graham's words have taken comfort in a ruse which RepublicanCongressman Justin Amash told the The Grand Rapids Press is “carefully crafted to mislead the public.”  This shows that, despite Graham's treasonous boldness, other senators still retain some of Jefferson's "fear" of "the people" ("When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.")    
But Senior Legislative Counsel for the Washington office of the ACLU dispels any remaining doubt behind which senators less brazen than Graham seek to hide:  

"Don’t be confused by anyone claiming that the indefinite detention legislation does not apply to American citizens. It does. There is an exemption for American citizens from the mandatory detention requirement (section 1032 of the bill), but no exemption for American citizens from the authorization to use the military to indefinitely detain people without charge or trial (section 1013 of the bill). So, the result is that, under the bill, the military has the power to indefinitely imprison American citizens."

And so the dilly-dallying after 9/11 is over.  If the clear intent and the language of the law is to codify the "homeland" as the "battlefield," where does that leave the now established claim of authority to assassinate American citizens deemed "terrorists" without charge or trial, on the say so of the "national security" establishment, on the newly codified "battlefield?" It is not high-profile alleged terrorists like Al-Awlaki who we need to be worried about.  The Washington Post has confirmed that:

"The military's Joint Special Operations Command maintains a target list that includes several Americans...U.S. officials have said that the government is prepared to kill U.S. citizens who are believed to be involved in terrorist activities that threaten Americans."

The list is secret, and so there is no way to determine who is on it, or presumably, who is no longer because they have already been killed.  If Americans do not see this as a recipe for mischief they are not Americans any longer.

This is the question no one has been asking.  If the senators succeed in establishing the U.S. as the "battlefield, if S. 1867 passes the Senate vote tomorrow in the late afternoon, the place where JSOC can carry out its assassinations becomes everywhere, including your bedroom while you sleep.  Alarmism? Sen. Graham said the bill "designates the world as the battlefield, including the homeland."  Al-Awlaki was killed by executive order "on the battlefield."  The Senate was given the chance to show this is not what it means, in the vote on the Udall Amendment yesterday to strip out the offending provisions.  Not only did they fail to remove the provision, they approved it by a 61- 37 vote majority, which is just six votes short of veto-proof.  

Fortunately, the Founders of the republic foresaw that corrupt and vicious men might attempt to change the Constitution they had written on their own, without a Constitutional Convention.  They therefore commanded that all officers of the United States understand that their primary duty was to defend, even unto the death, not the president, not any of the institutions that they had established, not even the territory or the people of the United States.  Because the Oath was given such an elevated place, to be not sworn or signed at some point in the commencement of duties, but sworn in public before the eyes of all before any other official action, it was to be understood that defense of the Constitution, against all enemies both foreign and domestic, comes first, and would require the dropping of all other business in the hour of mortal danger.  

The Oath of Office of both US senators and military officers creates the class of criminal "domestic enemies" of the "United States Constitution."  

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic;...So help me God."
Notably absent is any mention of enemies of our territorial integrity, or of elected office holders.  The intriguing possibility is that the Founders didn't really care what the territory consisted of, or who was nominally in charge of it.  America was to be an idea, which must never die, where citizens had certain inalienable rights.

By completely clarifying the intent and the effect of S. 1867 to be voted on tomorrow, political posturing will be over and senators will finally step from the shadows, to declare themselves loyal, or the "domestic enemies" of the "United States Constitution."  Some will vote to approve the new law.  Officers of the United States military will stand on firm legal ground to arrest every single one of them on sight.

Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. . . . [There is also an] inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and . . . degeneracy of manners and of morals. . . . No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare..." -  James Madison

Capitol switchboard (24/7, both Senate and House):

The Traitors Who Voted Not To Strip Out The Military Detention Provisions:

NAYs ---61 (Occupy their front yards with all-night drum circles.)
Alexander (R-TN)
Ayotte (R-NH)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Blunt (R-MO)
Boozman (R-AR)
Brown (R-MA)
Burr (R-NC)
Casey (D-PA)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coats (R-IN)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Collins (R-ME)
Conrad (D-ND)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Enzi (R-WY)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)     Hagan (D-NC)
Hatch (R-UT)
Heller (R-NV)
Hoeven (R-ND)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Inouye (D-HI)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Johnson (R-WI)
Kohl (D-WI)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lee (R-UT)
Levin (D-MI)
Lieberman (ID-CT)
Lugar (R-IN)
Manchin (D-WV)
McCain (R-AZ)
McCaskill (D-MO)
McConnell (R-KY)

Senators Demand the Military Lock Up of American Citizens in a “Battlefield” They Define as Being Right Outside Your Window

UPDATE III: The Senate rejected the Udall amendment 38-60.

While nearly all Americans head to family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving, the Senate is gearing up for a vote on Monday or Tuesday that goes to the very heart of who we are as Americans. The Senate will be voting on a bill that will direct American military resources not at an enemy shooting at our military in a war zone, but at American citizens and other civilians far from any battlefield — even people in the United States itself.

Senators need to hear from you, on whether you think your front yard is part of a “battlefield” and if any president can send the military anywhere in the world to imprison civilians without charge or trial.

The Senate is going to vote on whether Congress will give this president—and every future president — the power to order the military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians anywhere in the world. Even Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) raised his concerns about the NDAA detention provisions during last night’s Republican debate. The power is so broad that even U.S. citizens could be swept up by the military and the military could be used far from any battlefield, even within the United States itself.

The worldwide indefinite detention without charge or trial provision is in S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act bill, which will be on the Senate floor on Monday. The bill was drafted in secret by Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) and passed in a closed-door committee meeting, without even a single hearing.

I know it sounds incredible. New powers to use the military worldwide, even within the United States? Hasn’t anyone told the Senate that Osama bin Laden is dead, that the president is pulling all of the combat troops out of Iraq and trying to figure out how to get combat troops out of Afghanistan too? And American citizens and people picked up on American or Canadian or British streets being sent to military prisons indefinitely without even being charged with a crime. Really? Does anyone think this is a good idea? And why now?

The answer on why now is nothing more than election season politics. The White House, the Secretary of Defense, and the Attorney General have all said that the indefinite detention provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act are harmful and counterproductive. The White House has even threatened a veto. But Senate politics has propelled this bad legislation to the Senate floor.

But there is a way to stop this dangerous legislation. Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) is offering the Udall Amendment that will delete the harmful provisions and replace them with a requirement for an orderly Congressional review of detention power. The Udall Amendment will make sure that the bill matches up with American values.

In support of this harmful bill, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) explained that the bill will “basically say in law for the first time that the homeland is part of the battlefield” and people can be imprisoned without charge or trial “American citizen or not.” Another supporter, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) also declared that the bill is needed because “America is part of the battlefield.”

The solution is the Udall Amendment; a way for the Senate to say no to indefinite detention without charge or trial anywhere in the world where any president decides to use the military. Instead of simply going along with a bill that was drafted in secret and is being jammed through the Senate, the Udall Amendmentdeletes the provisions and sets up an orderly review of detention power. It tries to take the politics out and put American values back in.

In response to proponents of the indefinite detention legislation who contend that the bill “applies to American citizens and designates the world as the battlefield,” and that the “heart of the issue is whether or not the United States is part of the battlefield,” Sen. Udall disagrees, and says that we can win this fightwithout worldwide war and worldwide indefinite detention.

The senators pushing the indefinite detention proposal have made their goals very clear that they want an okay for a worldwide military battlefield, that even extends to your hometown. That is an extreme position that will forever change our country.

UPDATE I: Don’t be confused by anyone claiming that the indefinite detention legislation does not apply to American citizens. It does. There is an exemption for American citizens from the mandatory detention requirement (section 1032 of the bill), but no exemption for American citizens from the authorization to use the military to indefinitely detain people without charge or trial (section 1031 of the bill). So, the result is that, under the bill, the military has the power to indefinitely imprison American citizens, but it does not have to use its power unless ordered to do so.

But you don’t have to believe us. Instead, read what one of the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Lindsey Graham said about it on the Senate floor: “1031, the statement of authority to detain, does apply to American citizens and it designates the world as the battlefield, including the homeland.”

There you have it — indefinite military detention of American citizens without charge or trial. And the Senate is likely to vote on it Monday or Tuesday.

UPDATE II: The debate on NDAA has begun. Your Senator needs to hear from you RIGHT NOW! >>

Presidential assassinations of U.S. citizens

UPDATE:  In comments, sysprog documents the numerous countries condemned in 2009 by the U.S. State Department for “extra-judicial killings.”  I trust that it goes without saying that it’s different (and better) when we do it than when They do it, because we’re different (and better), but it still seems worth noting.

UPDATE II:  James Joyner argues that this “hit list” policy is not much different than our drone attacks in Pakistan, which Obama has substantially escalated, and that “no one seems to be complaining about the President’s authority” to kill suspected Terrorists there.  Actually, there are substantial questions about the legality of those drone attacks, though the complete secrecy behind which the program operates makes those questions very difficult to address.  Beyond that, though, there’s a substantial difference between a government which (a) targets foreign nationals whom it claims are part of a enemy organization and (b) targets its own citizens for assassination without any due process.  They both have substantial legal and moral problems, and killing innocent foreigners is obviously no better than killing one’s own innocent citizens, but (a) is at least a fairly common act of war, whereas (b) — as the U.S. Government itself has long argued — is a hallmark of tyranny.  There’s a much greater danger from allowing a government to target its own citizens for extra-judicial killings.

(updated below – Update II)
The Washington Post‘s Dana Priest today reports that “U.S. military teams and intelligence agencies are deeply involved in secret joint operations with Yemeni troops who in the past six weeks have killed scores of people.”  That’s no surprise, of course, as Yemen is now another predominantly Muslim country (along with Somalia and Pakistan) in which our military is secretly involved to some unknown degree in combat operations without any declaration of war, without any public debate, and arguably (though not clearly) without any Congressional authorization.  The exact role played by the U.S. in the late-December missile attacks in Yemen, which killed numerous civilians, is still unknown.

But buried in Priest’s article is her revelation that American citizens are now being placed on a secret “hit list” of people whom the President has personally authorized to be killed:

After the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush gave the CIA, and later the military,authority to kill U.S. citizens abroad if strong evidence existed that an American was involved in organizing or carrying out terrorist actions against the United States or U.S. interests, military and intelligence officials said. . . .
he Obama administration has adopted the same stance.If a U.S. citizen joins al-Qaeda, “it doesn’t really change anything from the standpoint of whether we can target them,” a senior administration official said. “They are then part of the enemy.”

Both the CIA and the JSOC maintain lists of individuals, called “High Value Targets” and “High Value Individuals,” whom they seek to kill or capture.  The JSOC list includes three Americans, including [New Mexico-born Islamic cleric Anwar] Aulaqi, whose name was added late last year. As of several months ago, the CIA list included three U.S. citizens, and an intelligence official said that Aulaqi’s name has now been added.  

Indeed, Aulaqi was clearly one of the prime targets of the late-December missile strikes in Yemen, as anonymous officials excitedly announced — falsely, as it turns out — that he was killed in one of those strikes.

Just think about this for a minute.  Barack Obama, like George Bush before him, has claimed the authority to order American citizens murdered based solely on the unverified, uncharged, unchecked claim that they are associated with Terrorism and pose “a continuing and imminent threat to U.S. persons and interests.”  They’re entitled to no charges, no trial, no ability to contest the accusations.  Amazingly, the Bush administration’s policy of merely imprisoning foreign nationals (along with a couple of American citizens) without charges — based solely on the President’s claim that they were Terrorists — produced intense controversy for years.  That, one will recall, was a grave assault on the Constitution.  Shouldn’t Obama’s policy of ordering American citizens assassinated without any due process or checks of any kind — not imprisoned, but killed — produce at least as much controversy?

Obviously, if U.S. forces are fighting on an actual battlefield, then they (like everyone else) have the right to kill combatants actively fighting against them, including American citizens.  That’s just the essence of war.  That’s why it’s permissible to kill a combatant engaged on a real battlefield in a war zone but not, say, torture them once they’re captured and helplessly detained.  But combat is not what we’re talking about here.  The people on this “hit list” are likely to be killed while at home, sleeping in their bed, driving in a car with friends or family, or engaged in a whole array of other activities.  More critically still, the Obama administration — like the Bush administration before it — defines the “battlefield” as the entire world.  So the President claims the power to order U.S. citizens killed anywhere in the world, while engaged even in the most benign activities carried out far away from any actual battlefield, based solely on his say-so and with no judicial oversight or other checks.  That’s quite a power for an American President to claim for himself.

As we well know from the last eight years, the authoritarians among us in both parties will, by definition, reflexively justify this conduct by insisting that the assassination targets are Terrorists and therefore deserve death.  What they actually mean, however, is that the U.S. Government has accused them of being Terrorists, which (except in the mind of an authoritarian) is not the same thing as being a Terrorist.  Numerous Guantanamo detainees accused by the U.S. Government of being Terrorists have turned out to be completely innocent, and the vast majority of federal judges who provided habeas review to detainees have found an almost complete lack of evidence to justify the accusations against them, and thus ordered them released.  That includes scores of detainees held while the U.S. Government insisted that only the “Worst of the Worst” remained at the camp.

No evidence should be required for rational people to avoid assuming that Government accusations are inherently true, but for those do need it, there is a mountain of evidence proving that.  And in this case, Anwar Aulaqi — who, despite his name and religion, is every bit as much of an American citizen as Scott Brown and his daughters are — has a family whovigorously denies that he is a Terrorist and is “pleading” with the U.S. Government not to murder their American son:

His anguish apparent, the father of Anwar al-Awlaki told CNN that his son is not a member of al Qaeda and is not hiding out with terrorists in southern Yemen.

“I am now afraid of what they will do with my son, he’s not Osama Bin Laden, they want to make something out of him that he’s not,” said Dr. Nasser al-Awlaki, the father of American-born Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. . . .

“I will do my best to convince my son to do this (surrender), to come back but they are not giving me time, they want to kill my son.  How can the American government kill one of their own citizens?  This is a legal issue that needs to be answered,” he said.

“If they give me time I can have some contact with my son but the problem is they are not giving me time,” he said.

Who knows what the truth is here?  That’s why we have what are called ”trials” — or at least some process — before we assume that government accusations are true and then mete out punishment accordingly.  As Marcy Wheeler notes, the U.S. Government has not only repeatedly made false accusations of Terrorism against foreign nationals in the past, but against U.S. citizens as well.  She observes:  ”I guess the tenuousness of those ties don’t really matter, when the President can dial up the assassination of an American citizen.”  
A 1981 Executive Order signed by Ronald Reagan provides: ”No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination.”  Before the Geneva Conventions were first enacted, Abraham Lincoln — in the middle of the Civil War — directed Francis Lieber to articulate rules of conduct for war, and those were then incorporated into General Order 100, signed by Lincoln in April, 1863.  Here is part of what it provided, in Section IX, entitled “Assassinations”:
The law of war does not allow proclaiming either an individual belonging to the hostile army, or a citizen, or a subject of the hostile government, an outlaw, who may be slain without trial by any captor, any more than the modern law of peace allows such intentional outlawry; on the contrary, it abhors such outrage. The sternest retaliation should follow the murder committed in consequence of such proclamation, made by whatever authority. Civilized nations look with horror upon offers of rewards for the assassination of enemies as relapses into barbarism.

Can anyone remotely reconcile that righteous proclamation with what the Obama administration is doing?  And more generally, what legal basis exists for the President to unilaterally compile hit lists of American citizens he wants to be killed?

What’s most striking of all is that it was recently revealed that, in Afghanistan, the U.S. had compiled a “hit list” of Afghan citizens it suspects of being drug traffickers or somehow associated with the Taliban, in order to target them for assassination.  When that hit list was revealed, Afghan officials “fiercely” objected on the ground that it violates due process and undermines the rule of law to murder people without trials:

Gen. Mohammad Daud Daud, Afghanistan’s deputy interior minister for counternarcotics efforts, praised U.S. and British special forces for their help recently in destroying drug labs and stashes of opium. But he said he worried that foreign troops would now act on their own to kill suspected drug lords, based on secret evidence, instead of handing them over for trial.

“They should respect our law, our constitution and our legal codes,” Daud said. “We have a commitment to arrest these people on our own” . . . .

Ali Ahmad Jalali, a former Afghan interior minister, said that he had long urged the Pentagon and its NATO allies to crack down on drug smugglers and suppliers, and that he was glad that the military alliance had finally agreed to provide operational support for Afghan counternarcotics agents. But he said foreign troops needed to avoid the temptation to hunt down and kill traffickers on their own.

“There is a constitutional problem here. A person is innocent unless proven guilty,” he said. “If you go off to kill or capture them, how do you prove that they are really guilty in terms of legal process?” . . .

So we’re in Afghanistan to teach them about democracy, the rule of law, and basic precepts of Western justice.  Meanwhile, Afghan officials vehemently object to the lawless, due-process-free assassination “hit list” of their citizens based on the unchecked say-so of the U.S. Government, and have to lecture us on the rule of law and Constitutional constraints.  By stark contrast, our own Government, our media and our citizenry appear to find nothing wrong whatsoever with lawless assassinations aimed at our own citizens.  And the most glaring question for those who critized Bush/Cheney detention policies but want to defend this:  how could anyone possibly object to imprisoning foreign nationals without charges or due process at Guantanamo while approving of the assassination of U.S. citizens without any charges or due process? 

S.1867.PCS - Bill Text - 112th Congress (2011-2012) - THOMAS ... › THOMAS Home  Bills, Resolutions
Nov 15, 2011 – S.1867 -- National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (Placed on Calendar ... 2. Organization of Act into divisions; table of contents. ...


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