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Democrats and "progressives" would have screamed in outrage if George W. Bush's attorney general had made this case for assassinating American citizens with no real due process. Today, most of them are silent or in agreement as Obama's AG does exactly that. And America moves more and more toward being what it used to rightly condemn.
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Tyler Barton's profile photoChris Winters's profile photoESCALZILE BRANDAO's profile photoUriah Maynard's profile photo
89 comments
 
Atta Boy Dan, The double standard continues.
 
You mean like, Yemeni-American Kamal Derwish, in 2002? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamal_Derwish

"I can assure you that no constitutional questions are raised here...........He's well within the balance of accepted practice and the letter of his constitutional authority." ~ Condoleezza Rice
 
As a progressive, this disgusts me.
 
I keep wondering why the emphasis on American citizens. Murder is murder whether or not the murdered is an American or not.

Just as waterboarding was torture, assassination is merely murder regardless of the citizenship of the target.
 
Actually, I don't believe congressional Democrats would have, more's the pity.
 
Actually I know quite a few progressives who are all very much opposed to Obama's horrendously similar to Bush's human rights failures. Just as I know many conservatives who were either silent, complicit or ignorant of Bush's abuses of our rights.
 
Don't count me among the "silent or in agreement" - I believe that Holder (and Obama) have committed grave offenses against the US Constitution by continuing, and even expanding the violations.

Many presidents have pushed the limits - from Taylor to Truman (and beyond). But I believe that the modern run off of the rails began with Iran-Contra and the flatly illegal acts of Reagan and Bush I.

But the "war against terror" seems to be more a "war against the Constitution".

BTW - I don't see any of the major candidates, in either party, who are willing to reverse this trend.
 
I'm still holding out hope we can find a Democrat to run for president this year.
 
I've been expressing my outrage by documenting the inconsistencies, refusal to take questions, and use of euphemisms on Wikipedia, which is the same way I expressed my outrage against the Iraq War. Just because I'm not yelling to thousands of G+ers, most of whom spend only a few minutes a month here, doesn't mean I'm not complaining where the topic gets tens of thousands of pageviews per day.
 
This administration is a scary lot!
 
I'm seeing pretty wide condemnation for the policy in general and Holder's speech in particular. Maybe some day we'll have another politician who believes in rights.
 
we have to get rid of this mob first
 
+Brian Sullivan: The emphasis on American citizens could be for many reasons, but one of them is the simple factor of fear tactics. "American citizen" can be interpreted by many of Salon's readers as "people like me." It makes it personal.
 
I don't know of a single person who agrees with this travesty of legal 'thinking'.

If I did, I'd have to worry about their sanity.
 
So you're saying those old Wanted, Dead or Alive reward posters were wrong because they were unconstitutional rather than being simply wrong.
 
He was living abroad and there was proof he was behind the criminal acts of wanting to kill Americans. He wanted to kill our citizens..so you know what..he just revoked his rights. Period. I agree with Holder on this. You want to kill us..we will kill you first.
 
+Wallace Lockhart, there's an important difference between the use of lethal force in the attempt to apprehend someone and the use of lethal force in lieu of apprehending someone.
 
+James Salsman How do you know we didn't. I haven't heard a word about him or from him lately..have you??
 
+Roger Burgess if that is actually true, then I think the solution would be to change the Constitution rather than condemning the posse. To change the Constitution you're going to need examples of people wrongfully executed and this guy ain't one of those.
 
Why do these double standards exist? Are liberals living in a different world? Or is it all about ideology and the power to implement it, whomever is in control?
 
+when the is documented proof that you are behind some of these terrorist attacks..you betcha. I will do whatever it takes to protect our American citizens. Ever served in the military?? I have.... there are people out there that want to kill us. +James Salsman I respect your opinion. I am at work right now...I will answer your comment later. I wish you well.
 
I don't know any progressives that consider Obama to be even remotely liberal. Even among his supporters in the left, he is mainly compared against the insane nutjobs from the GOP, not lauded as a defender of liberty and justice for all. But then, most of my friends are occupy supporters that avoid the bullshit propaganda that passes for television journalism in this country, so it shouldn't be too surprising that we don't actually have the double standard that seems so obvious to you. Since I live in a firmly blue state, I see no reason whatsoever to give Obama anything but the derision that his civil liberties record deserves. If I lived in a swing state I'd probably vote for him, but as it is? Absolutely not.
 
+Wallace Lockhart, why would I need to change it? The proper understanding has been extant since the Constitution was written: You cannot legally perform an execution without the due process of law - that means you must go through the courts.

If you're killed resisting arrest, that's fine, but you must be tried and convicted by a court of your peers before you can be punished by the state.

Now, you can make the case that assassination is not punishment, but that's going to be very, very difficult.
 
+Roger Burgess that is exactly the case this administration is making, it's not punishment. It's a military matter and he made himself a combatant. This may very well be about right versus wrong, but not in a civil arena. And unlike a local mob with a noose, this well within the Executive Powers to defend us against any danger.
 
I wasn't aware that the person in question had renounced his US citizenship.

Until he does, he falls under the Constitution, which absolutely requires due process.
 
I am a progressive and I have been screaming about this.
Obama is no liberal. He is a moderate corporatist.
 
In my experience, the whole double standard issue is the least effective strategy in politics. In the end, either party will do what they want to and then give us a reason to justify it.
 
We have committed so many war crimes in pursuit of the phony war on terror that most of our government would be in prison if there were an ounce of justice in the world.
 
I* am NO OWEBAMA supporter wasn't in 2008 seen right thru him and the entire radical Nationalsozialistische Democrat kickback party since 2004 ...But if they threathen the life of Americans I SAY TAKE EM OUT!
 
+Alan Seidel "proof he was behind the criminal acts of wanting to kill Americans..."

I'd just like you to re-read that qualifier of yours a couple of times. Think about that... Now, let me submit to you that given your statement, it would be perfectly reasonable for the government to have any U.S. citizen killed at any time. Surely we've all had a moment of weakness where we've said, "I'd love to kill him!" There you go, send in the drone!

The fact of the matter is that proof isn't required. Due process is required and due process requires proof, but you can't just short circuit due process because what you have is what you personally consider proof.

What if they had the word of a "reliable" source who turns out to be just as reliable as the person who had the CIA believing that there were WMDs in Iraq? We just go to his family and say, "oops"?

That being said, I'm in very reserved, very concerned support of what the administration is doing and said as much during Bush's term. Why?

Because, fighting a "declared war" (whether I agree that we should be at war or not) against a non-governmental organization is impossible in the traditional sense, and American citizen or not, it's hard to outline such a process. At the very least, I would argue that the criteria must be:

1) The target must not be within the borders of the United States or any nation which would be willing and is able to detain and extradite them.

2) The target must not be under U.S. control at the time (e.g. they must not have been captured or turned themselves in)

3) The evidence of guilt must stand on its own and remain compelling if any one source is revealed to be unreliable.

4) There must be some model for oversight (I presume the Senate's current national security oversight is sufficient, here).

5) The evidence of guilt must tie the target to an enemy organization which is actively bent on harm to U.S. national security and citizens, and must involve that target's direct and positive involvement in those activities.

Under those circumstances, I am still very concerned about the precedent, but I'm convinced sufficiently that I couldn't accidentally meet those criteria by calling the wrong number while on vacation.

This, however, is not what is being said, and I don't like the fact that the justification given does not, at the very least, cite congressional oversight (though it may have happened). I'm also very concerned that stress is not being placed on the reliability of multiple sources. I'm also very concerned that stress is not being placed on the unavailability of other options...
 
With the caveat that Bush introduced this and Obama merely codified Bush's policies.
 
+איש של אמת אדון אמיתי אדם If you're in the U.S. the above was a rather stupid thing to say, as it's technically a felony. However, either way advocating violence as a response to political discourse is usually a good way to make the conversation pointless...
 
+Aaron Sherman: only if you interpret "take em out" as an incitement to violence; given elected political officials, he might merely mean "remove them from power" -- ostensibly by means of voting against them in the upcoming elections.
 
For those in this discussion trying differentiate between Americans and non Americans with respect to "due process", I am pretty sure if you check that your Constitution and amendments do not make that differentiation.
 
+Rick Mac and the only people competent and empowered to make that determination are judges and juries of your peers.
 
Hunting you down and killing you without a trial is in NO WAY implied by treason being an executable offense. If the evidence is strong enough, they can go through due process. Our system has limits on acceptable government action for a very good reason-- preserving the core values of this nation as listed in the pledge of allegiance: liberty and justice for all. If you infringe on that, you're a fundamentally un-American piece of shit, and you belong in prison as a danger to all those who love this nation and what it stands for. There is no middle ground. You're a totalitarian asshole in need of being run out of town on a rail or you're a patriotic American. You cannot say you love this country if you can't respect its values. Absolutely fucking not.
 
+Roger Burgess And Congress, Article 3, Section 3 of the Constitution. "Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason" ~ Just pointing it out.
 
Wow! And this from a Nobel Peace Prize winner. I wonder how many people the second place finisher has killed...
 
I hate totalitarianism, but to kill a US citizen who has declared war on the USA, is committing or planning acts of war on the USA, it is not feasible to capture him, and presents a clear danger, perhaps this is not so bad???
 
+Rick Mac Does 18 USC § 2381 override the right to trial?

Sixth Amendment
” 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.”

The Constitution takes precedence over all other laws.
 
So we throw away everything that it means to be an American because it's not as convenient to send a couple helicopters full of troops as a drone with a missile? No. Fuck you.
 
+Vynce Montgomery The treason Article is a fun one, setup because of the abuse in England. Short version, two fed agents "Witnesses" see the person do the treason act (or open confession), congress can declare punishment on them.
 
Because hey, what's the big deal about killing teenaged Americans because their parents talked a bunch of shit on the internet, really? What sort of fucked up monster thinks that's okay? It's OBSCENE.
 
Allowing monstrous perversions of justice to continue FOR ANY REASON is nothing but obsequious moral cowardice. Supporting it requires becoming a hideous sociopath with no consideration for any sort of moral principle. It is totalitarian villainy, and those who recommend it should be given no more place in our government than we give to goddamned neo-nazis. These supposed patriots don't have any interest in American values, so they should be kicked the fuck out of office! They are DANGEROUS.
 
I have no problem with taking out anyone who decided to join a group or nation that wants to kill me. Just like I don't loose sleep over a policeman shooting a criminal. If they are in this country then it is more likely they would be apprehended assuming they didn't resist however it is unrealistic to try to capture them over there not to mention that they are enemy combatants not citizens on vacation that broke the law. Whats sad is those of you that feel sorry for these killers.
 
+Rick Mac What is the citation to support your claim? Which part of the US Code or which Supreme Court ruling states this to be fact?

Or is all you have your opinion to override the US Constitution.?
 
Yes, I'm sad that our nation is run by fucking psychopaths like you. Go be a creep in a nation that doesn't place any value on little things like justice.
 
I really don't understand why killing Awlaki violates the constitution. This is not the first time law enforcement has killed a criminal who refuses to surrender so that he can be tried in a court of law, cannot be apprehended safely, and poses a threat of bodily harm and life to American citizens if allowed to roam free.
 
While Awlaki did not get a court trial, the courts were not completely absent in the process.

His father filed a lawsuit against Obama, Gates, and Panetta, citing the due process clause, to stop the US from targeting Awlaki for killing. The court decided against the plaintiff. Here is the link to the court decision.

https://ecf.dcd.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/show_public_doc?2010cv1469-31
 
Obama administration is straight up looney , just look at the NDAA and Fema Camps , they wont to kill anyone who stands in there way , prime example Briebert , they killed him so he wouldnt come out with those tapes , if you think he truly died of "natural causes" your a idiot , unplug the tv and wake up to reality
 
"Obama administration is straight up looney"...."prime example Briebert , they killed him so he wouldnt come out with those tapes"... the only loon here +Justin Mahan is the one you see when you look in the mirror...and learn how to spell.
 
lol +Scott Mortimer your a prime example of the sheeple , people who are zombies to the tv , and not reality
 
Dear Mr.Gilmor... never can be legal , whem you judge someone without the real process of law and their rights .....this is a basecaly the origem of all justice.....
 
+Rick Mac the only thing I can think of is that you're confused about the difference between Civil law, Criminal law and how the difference between Federal and State laws intersect. Your last post switched wildly between them. I'm sure it makes sense to you, but I couldn't parse it to save my life.

Also, can you please quote the section of the Constitution where it says that U.S. Citizens can for any reason at all be stripped of their specifically enumerated right to trial by jury of their peers because someone in the Executive branch says so? It would really help your argument if you could do that.

If you can't do that, I don't see how, even if you would like it to be true, a U.S. citizen can be stripped of his rights because someone in the Executive branch considers his actions treasonous. The determination of treason is not up to the Executive. The Judicial branch and the courts alone can make that decision.
 
+Justin Mahan, I know who killed Brietbart!

It was an elite squad of Black Panther Alinskyite Communista Invisible Warriors of the Shadows, Local 148! They were funded entirely by the arch-villian, that anarchist and anti-capitalist Mr. Soros! It all makes perfect sense now! It's so clear!

All us faithful, god-fearing American citizens should vote Republican, now and for_ever_! I share your concerns brother, I share them.

USA! USA! USA!







Much thanks to TBOGG over at Firedoglake for the BPACIWotS, Local 148 schtick: http://tbogg.firedoglake.com/2012/03/06/iamandrewbreitbart-and-im-kind-of-a-big-deal/
 
+Rick Mac you keep saying that, and you keep providing zero proof that your claim is valid.

What can be asserted without proof, can be dismissed without proof.
-Christopher Hitchens.

Where's your justification that it is the Executive that gets to decide who does and does not qualify for Constitutional protection?
 
+Roger Burgess - As you can see from you conversation on this thread there are a lot of people who do feel that "justice" consists of accusation then execution. They kind of have forgotten that there is a step in the middle, which is to discover whether there is merit to the accusation. Most of us call that middle step "justice".

Unfortunately a large part of our population has adopted the system of "the terrorists" which is to declare some one or some thing as being undeserving of justice, automatically guilty, and subject to whatever penalty they feel is appropriate.
 
+Rick Mac I don't care what politicians you favor or don't, but just for a second imaging whoever you think is the most dangerous person in professional politics, today. Now, imagine someone slightly less hinged and slightly less friendly to anything you've ever loved. Imagine, for a second, that that hypothetical person got elected to the office of president. Now, imagine that they apply the standard that you're using.

You're asking for the United States to remove the protection of law, checks and balances, and any semblance of due process from people, simply by designating them "an enemy". Is there a talk radio correspondant you like? Well, obviously that seditious malcontent will be the first on the list, right? Seal team incoming...

You can't change the constitutional protections in the U.S. without first considering what the next guy is going to do with your newly expanded powers. People who were in favor of Bush's expanded executive power theories, for example, routinely failed to think about the fact that he would one day be replaced. Now they cry foul over a liberal who sees fit to exercise some of those same powers. Similarly, those who support Obama think that his own expansive use of executive power is fine, but they too are ignoring the fact that someone will (either this election or next, replace him).

Think about the consequences of what you're suggesting. Sure, it's a nice idea to say "guilty people should be punished," but the whole reason for due process is that guilt is never as cut-and-dry as it might seem.

PS: Take a look at my list of criteria in my first post in this thread. Think about what would happen if we applied that whenever we wanted to selectively kill an individual (as opposed to general offensive actions such as clearing Taliban fighters out of an Afghan village, which is a very different thing). Do you really see meeting those criteria as impossible or even difficult?
 
+Aaron Sherman, I support Obama. I _do not _ support these unitary executive powers he's using and didn't when Yu offered them to Bush in a plate.

Please paint with a less broad brush. There are people screaming about this on the left who did so under Bush as well. 
 
Almost the entire progressive movement has loudly condemned every assault the Obama administration has made on civil liberties, and Obama will not have anywhere close to the sort of grassroots progressive support he enjoyed in the last election. The double standard is a right-wing myth.
 
not really. you're talking about the "progressive movement" -- which is not actually obama's base, they're his agitators. most rank and file democrats are nto progressive movement. and most elected democrats, and many mainstream democrat voices, are being no louder about this than expected based on the fact that they didn't stop W or pass good laws when they had a filibuster proof majority.
 
Progressives aren't his base, but they were absolutely the backbone of his very successful grassroots efforts in 2008.
 
That's probably true; I'm willing to stipulate it. But it's still a far cry from being the same as the Democratic establishment, who are not condemning the behavior. Even the ones who are condemning it are not as vocal or as strident or as adamant about it as they could be, because they believe (possibly correctly) that doing so risks putting a worse person in the office. However, after the elections, there will be no further excuse; the continuing silence of the democratic establishment will merely be shame for us all.
 
Which is why I love Bernie Sanders. Fuck the Democratic establishment.
 
So far I see lots of discussion about who was sufficiently indignant and who wasn't, but no one has commented on how you do prosecute a war against a foreign, non-military, non-governmental force and what it means when an American joins their ranks. Sometimes, in the course if war, it is necessary to kill a specific person. How do you do that in a non-traditional war without trampling the Constitution?

The criteria I listed above (which are essentially verifiable evidence of involvement, oversight by another branch of government, and lack of other options) seem like they leave our core freedoms intact, and are not open to broad abuse (any more so than any other use of force by the federal government). Thoughts?
 
+Aaron Sherman You don't treat what should be a police operation against a criminal conspiracy as a "war".
 
+Peter da Silva you are stuck on "should this be a war" which isn't helpful. The assertion being made is that when you are prosecuting such a war, it is legal under the Constitution to do this. If your response is a non-starter with respect to being at war, then all you accomplish is removing yourself from the discussion.
 
When you are prosecuting such a war, you are committing war crimes, because THIS IS NOT A FUCKING WAR.
 
+Aaron Sherman said, "The assertion being made is that when you are prosecuting such a war, it is legal under the Constitution to do this"

And the counter to this assertion is that there is zero support for this in the Constitution. You keep avoiding that issue. And no, "It's really hard to do," is not sufficient, not even close. We do not get to decide what is and what is not legal based on how convenient it is, especially when we are talking about the death of a human being.

We are talking about the death of a human being, of a citizen of the United States of America, who's Constitution prescribes certain protections that cannot be arrogated because it's a lot of work to ensure that those protections are ensured.
 
Our government enjoys murdering children for sport. It gets away with it by calling this rampant criminality the 'war on terror'.
 
+Roger Burgess Seriously?! Did you actually mis-read what I wrote so badly that I ended up defending the assertion I was arguing against (that the stated legal rationale is constitutionally sound)? Try again, and this time try putting me on the opposite side of that debate. Just because I agree that it's potentially within the spirit of the constitution (I won't argue with respect to the letter because I'm not a constitutional lawyer) to take the action, given that you meet certain criteria doesn't mean that I agree with the assertion being made by the government that boils down to, "it's hard to employ due process and that absolves us of all requirements," which is absurd on its face.

My assertion was that +Peter da Silva who still hasn't responded to my proposed criteria, was dodging the question by deeming the whole war incorrectly waged, and therefore not engaging the specific issue of how one could or could not target specific persons during such a war. That's a cute semantic trick, but it doesn't actually address the pressing need to establish a correct precedent.

What it does do is take you out of the debate and allow the administration to ignore your opinion (not that they may not anyway, but if your voice ever had a chance of mattering, you abandoned that chance when you walked away from the discussion).

+Uriah Maynard So, your contention is that any time you engage in any offensive action which is not a properly declared war, you're committing war crimes? Can you please cite your source for that? I'm unaware of any such international agreement. Or were you conflating "unethical action" with "war crime"? War crimes aren't "things we don't agree should happen". War crimes are very specific violations of international agreements.
 
+Aaron Sherman The legal basis of the war is an essential part of the discussion. You asked how you can legitimately target people in such a war. You might as well ask how you could legitimately target people in a war of extermination against Native Americans. It's not a "cute semantic trick", it's fundamental to the whole problem.
 
No, I understood. I may be using a too simplified version of your argument though, so let me see if I've got it right by you:

You think that it may be acceptable to assassinate (if that word's too loaded, use another, that's fine, I'm not wedded to it) a U.S. citizen provide the following three criteria are met:

1. verifiable evidence of involvement,
2. oversight by another branch of government, and
3. lack of other options.

My first contention is that 1 is the duty of the Judicial branch and to a much, much lesser extent, the Legislative branch (by creating laws which may or may not be constitutional). The Executive does not get to decide what 'verifiable evidence of involvement' is, or even that this is an appropriate standard, which is what is happening here.

My second contention is that it is always possible to claim 3, therefore it is never a good argument. "There are no other options" is always semantically equivalent to "I don't care to search for more options" because the available option space is so large as to be effectively infinite, for just about any decision. I know it doesn't seem like to you that that is what you are arguing for, but that is the effect your argument will have on those with lesser amounts of training and good will.
 
+Roger Burgess You didn't read my original post, I guess, so you're taking "verifiable" a bit out of context. I'm not talking about weighing the evidence. I'm talking about basic assurance that the data isn't wholly created by any one party. For example, most of the evidence for WMDs in Iraq came from one source. What no one asked was, "if this source is lying, can we still rely on our conclusions?" The answer to that question, IMHO, must be yes if you're going to take someone's life as a result.

As for point 3, again, in my first post, above, I laid out very clear definitions. You only read the summary. The definition of "lack of other options" is a) Not on U.S. soil (and thus subject to normal law enforcement) b) not in U.S. custody or control c) not in a nation which can capture and extradite. Under these circumstances, it can be reasonably said that normal channels of capturing the target and bringing them into the justice system is, at the very least, extremely difficult. However, you are right that when you get to the last step, it's hard to be sure that capture wasn't a reasonable option. But in the face of independent sources of intel; the requisite oversight; and the lack of normal arrest and/or extradition options, I believe that we'd be on a much more solid moral footing. Yes, killing a person (U.S. citizen or no) is always a regrettable action, but I have no fundamental problem with doing it when it's required. The only problem is verifying that it was required. Really, that's criteria #1. Criteria #2 is there to verify that #1 was met and #3 is there as a means to allow someone to surrender themselves and be assured of due process.
 
Not the progressives I know- they're basically calling Obama a traitor
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