Months ago, the Obama Administration revealed that it would target al-Awlaki. It even managed to wriggle out of a lawsuit filed by his father to prevent the assassination. But the actual legal reasoning the Department of Justice used to authorize the strike? It’s secret. Classified. Information that the public isn’t permitted to read, mull over, or challenge.
Why? What justification can there be for President Obama and his lawyers to keep secret what they’re asserting is a matter of sound law? This isn’t a military secret. It isn’t an instance of protecting CIA field assets, or shielding a domestic vulnerability to terrorism from public view. This is an analysis of the power that the Constitution and Congress’ post September 11 authorization of military force gives the executive branch. This is a president exploiting official secrecy so that he can claim legal justification for his actions without having to expose his specific reasoning to scrutiny. As the Post put it, “The administration officials refused to disclose the exact legal analysis used to authorize targeting Aulaqi, or how they considered any Fifth Amendment right to due process.”
The rest Here.
Many see this as killing a bad guy and so who cares. But “who cares?” denies basic rule-of-law. Either the constitution matters or it doesn’t. We assume ALL criminals are bad guys. They still get a fair trial by a jury of their peers.
No matter where their criminal acts occur, we give them a fair trial. al-Awlaki could have been tried in-absentia and sentenced to death and this wouldn’t be an issue. He wasn’t killed on an actual battlefield or anywhere near one.
Since we don’t even have the faintest idea as to the legal reasoning behind this decision, it is a classified secret, we don’t know if this same “reasoning” could be used to justify killing an American citizen in Britain or even Cleveland. We also don’t know if it means American citizens can be killed by executive fiat for alleged crimes like rape, grand theft or shop lifting in foreign nations or again right here at home. What is the legal logic? It’s a secret.
In fact, given what we think we know concerning al-Awlaki, did he commit a death penalty offense assuming he were tried and convicted right here in the US? What exactly was he accused of? Was he a bad guy? Undeniably. What sets him apart from a thousand or a million bad guys across the nation? Is every accused American now subject to Predator strikes? For which crimes might we expect holy hell to rain down upon us? It is a Secret.
This ties in quite closely to an article in the Telegraph.
Russia ‘gave agents licence to kill’ enemies of the state
The Russian secret service authorised the “elimination” of individuals living overseas who were judged to be enemies of the state and ordered the creation of special units to conduct such operations, according to a document passed to The Daily Telegraph.
Are we giving the executive branch a license to kill? Clearly Obama did not pull this trigger. Are we not only giving him a right to kill but to issue licenses to sub-ordinates to kill as well? Does he only get to kill muslims? Will he be able to pull the trigger on any dissident or tax evader? Given the current humanistic religion in Washington will Christians someday make the list? Does the legal reasoning restrict the President’s new license in anyway? Did he have to take a practical skills test? A vision test? Are there any limits at all on this new executive privilege? We don’t know.
It is a secret.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime,
unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising
in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time
of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense
to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any
criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life,
liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be
taken for public use, without just compensation.
- Al-Awlaki And The Law (andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com)
- Secret U.S. memo sanctioned killing of Aulaqi – The Washington Post (policyabcs.wordpress.com)
- When The People Fear The Government You Have Tyranny: Gibson Edition (unifiedpatriots.com)
- The Targeted Killing of Anwar al-Awlaki (thinkmarkets.wordpress.com)