"The president may use force abroad against a senior operational leader of a foreign terrorist organization with which the United States is at war — even if that individual happens to be a U.S. citizen." -- US Attorney General Eric HolderYou see, Mr. Holder, we have this thing called the Bill of Rights that's supposed to serve to limit the power of the state to interfere with our lives and the lives of our fellow Americans. We have this concept that an individual, no matter what he's charged with, is innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
People walk away from courthouses not guilty every day of the week. And, as we all know, in some cases they got away with it. But that's the price we pay in this country for limiting the power of the government to take away a man's freedom - or his life.
"They are claiming the authority to kill any American citizen whom the president deems to be an enemy of the state and that authority is not reviewable before the fact by any court and it's not reviewed after the fact by any court." - Jameel Jaffer, ACLUWe see the stories on a regular basis of men who have spent decades in prison - some of them on death row - before being exonerated. It's a dirty little secret that the state sometimes gets it wrong - way wrong.
Maybe Anwar al-Awlaki was working with the enemies of the United States. Maybe he was aligned with terrorists. But, even if he was, Mr. al-Awlaki was an American citizen and he enjoyed (at least he thought he enjoyed) the rights afforded us under the Bill of Rights.
He had the right to be presumed innocent. He had the right to be informed of the charges against him. He had the right to confront his accusers. He had the right to have a jury decide his fate.
"Killing persons far from armed conflict zones must follow law enforcement rules to comply with fundamental human rights. The president cannot assert that the U.S. is in a worldwide war or use the interstate right of self-defense to do an end run around law enforcement principles." - Mary Ellen O'Connell, Notre Dame School of LawBut not according to President Obama and his lackey, Eric Holder. They can genuflect all they want but it doesn't change the fact that they violated Mr. al-Awlaki's constitutional rights. He was not afforded due process. There was no indictment. There was no public trial. There was no jury to decide his fate.
Nope. President Obama decided that the Constitution didn't apply to Mr. al-Awlaki because he didn't agree with what Mr. al-Awlaki had to say.
And then the administration wants to have it both ways when it comes to publicizing the death list. When President Obama feels that it helps his poll numbers, we get a speech from someone in the administration about the process; but, if someone sues over the summary killing of an American, it all becomes a state secret.
According to Mr. Holder, the president's authority to order the summary execution of Americans overseas comes courtesy of Congress and their authorization to use "necessary and appropriate force... to protect the nation from any imminent threat of violent attack."
And then he goes on to add that the US is up against a stateless enemy and so he has the authority to order a summary execution of any American anywhere in the world who poses "an imminent threat." So much for limited government. And so much for upholding the oath Mr. Holder took when he was sworn in as an attorney.
Mr. Holder's speech at Northwestern University was supposed to be followed by a question-and-answer session, but after realizing that there was no way to square the program with the Constitution, Mr. Holder cancelled the Q&A lest he make a complete ass of himself trying to justify it.
Yeah, it's a dangerous world out there, but sometimes that's just the price we pay for freedom and liberty.