On Monday, the Obama administration explained when it's allowed to kill you.Charlie Pierce is right. John Yoo's "torture memo" is small potatoes compared to this scary pile of crap. And forgive me if I laugh at you when you say, "But it's OK, because Obama would never abuse such authority." The authority itself is abusive. I no more trust Barack Obama with this alleged authority to kill folks because he says so that I trusted the Bush Administration to waterboard because, hey, it isn't torture if I say it isn't torture. Right?
Speaking to students and faculty at Northwestern University law school, Attorney General Eric Holder laid out in greater detail than ever before the legal theory behind the administration's belief that it can kill American citizens suspected of terrorism without charge or trial. In the 5,000-word speech, the nation's top law enforcement official directly confronted critics who allege that the targeted killing of American citizens violates the Constitution.
There won't be any drone strikes in Denver anytime soon. But you might want to be careful when traveling abroad, because Holder made it clear that there are no geographical limits in the fight against Al Qaeda. "Neither Congress nor our federal courts has limited the geographic scope of our ability to use force to the current conflict in Afghanistan," Holder said. "We are at war with a stateless enemy, prone to shifting operations from country to country."This is the same tired, horrible argument we've been hearing from war-porn-bloggers for years now. Just because it's coming from an allegedly Democratic Attorney General doesn't suddenly make me go, "Wow! The fact that terrorists aren't regular soldiers is something I never realized before. Here you go, Executive Branch, let me hand you this shred of the Constitution." The point, I thought, was to do this whole fight-against-al-Qaeda better than the losers in the last Administration. Like the man said, wrong again, honey.
If the standards for when the government can send a deadly flying robot to vaporize you sound a bit subjective, that's because they are. Holder made clear that decisions about which citizens the government can kill are the exclusive province of the executive branch, because only the executive branch possess the "expertise and immediate access to information" to make these life-and-death judgments.I trust Congress's robust oversight powers. They certainly did a bang-up job with Enron, AIG,the investment banks, BP, the natural gas industry (actually, that's a lie; since 2005, fracking for natural gas has been exempt from testing and pretty much any environmental oversight), and that whole Iraq war thing. How many billions just vanished in to the pockets and bank accounts of war profiteers while we reduced Iraq to a steaming pile of rubble and our soldiers, Marines, and airmen were blown to bits or had their psyches shattered, only to be shoveled in to rat-infested VA hovels? I've got your Congressional oversight right here.
Holder argues that "robust oversight" is provided by Congress, but that "oversight" actually amounts to members of the relevant congressional committees being briefed. Press reports suggest this can simply amount to a curt fax to intelligence committees notifying them after the fact that an American has been added to a "kill list." It also seems like it would be difficult for Congress to provide "robust oversight" of the targeted killing program when intelligence committee members like Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) are still demanding to see the actual legal memo justifying the policy.
The question is no longer an abstract one. In September, radical American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki was killed in a drone strike in Yemen alongside fellow American Samir Khan. Awlaki and Khan produced the English-language extremist publication Inspire, but until the sentencing of underwear bomber Umar Abdulmutallab, the US government provided little evidence they were much more than propagandists. Awlaki's son, Abdul Rahman al-Awlaki, also an American citizen, was killed about a month later.At the time, I stated:
These deaths and those to come, Holder insisted Monday, do not represent a violation of America's founding principles. "This is an indicator of our times," Holder said, "not a departure from our laws and our values."
there are people out there who are actively engaged in planning to do our country and our fellow Americans serious physical harm. We may not like that protecting the United States involves messy stuff like killing people, but this isn't about people's feelings. We may not like that some of those who are targets of our national defense are fellow Americans.I now take that stupid, purblind defense of the indefensible back. The Obama Administration,in the person of AG Holder has now stated it is legal to kill Americans.
The naked, Cheneyesque heart of the Obama Administration was laid bare yesterday by AG Holder. I see no reason to grant them my vote anymore than the Bush Administration deserved it. Rather than show the world we could fight terrorists while adhering not to "our principles and values" but - hey! what a shock! - our Constitution, Obama and his Administration has gone Full Monty, letting it all hang out there for the world to see.
I do so hope the Nobel committee calls and asks for the statue and check back.