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Pressed for time today.
Yesterday, in a speech at Northwestern University, Attorney General Eric Holder tried to explain why the President of the United States has the singular power to order the assassination of a U.S. citizen without due process, without being officially charged, without even a mock trial. I've written about this several times before and when I did, it seemed like folks from both sides of the political spectrum found those claims of power to be egregiously wrongheaded and unconstitutional.
Glenn Greenwald lays it all out here.
"Some have argued that the president is required to get permission from a federal court before taking action against a United States citizen who is a senior operational leader of Al Qaeda or associated forces. This is simply not accurate. “Due process” and “judicial process” are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security. The Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process."
So when the executive branch decides to assassinate a U.S. citizen, what is the "process", if in fact "due process" and "judicial process" are not the same animal?
As Greenwald points out...first from Reuters...
American militants like Anwar al-Awlaki are placed on a kill or capture list by a secretive panel of senior government officials, which then informs the president of its decisions . . . There is no public record of the operations or decisions of the panel, which is a subset of the White House’s National Security Council . . . Neither is there any law establishing its existence or setting out the rules by which it is supposed to operate.
And then as Leon Panetta has informed us...
“[The] President of the United States obviously reviews these cases, reviews the legal justification, and in the end says, go or no go.”
That's the "process." Unnamed senior government officials suggest people for assassination. No records are kept of the meetings where suggested assassination targets are made. No law establishes this process and no rules exist to direct this process.
And then the president, and no one else, makes the final decision on which person, U.S. citizen or not, should be assassinated.
Anyone agree with Eric Holder's explanation? Anyone agree that the POTUS, alone, has, or should have, the power to order the assassination of...anyone, anytime? Does the Constitution allow for exceptions of the due process guarantee?
To readers who support the Obama presidency....would it be safe for all Americans if, say, a person like Newt Gingrich or Sarah Palin made the decisions on who should be assassinated? Would you be comfortable with that?