Obama Officials Refuse to Say If They Believe They Can Assassinate ...

Most US citizens are still absolutely certain that they live in a democracy.

The Justice Department  "white paper" purporting to authorize Obama's power to extrajudicially execute US citizens was leaked three weeks ago. Since then, the administration - including the president himself and his nominee to lead the CIA,  John Brennan - has been repeatedly asked whether this authority extends to US soil, i.e., whether the president has the right to execute US citizens on US soil without charges. In each instance, they have refused to answer.

What's more extraordinary: that the US Senate is repeatedly asking the Obama White House whether the president has the power to secretly order US citizens on US soil executed without charges or due process, or whether the president and his administration refuse to answer? That this is the "controversy" surrounding the confirmation of the CIA director - and it's a very muted controversy at that - shows just how extreme the degradation of US political culture is.

Critically, the documents that are being concealed by the Obama administration are not operational plans or sensitive secrets. They are legal documents that, like the leaked white paper, simply purport to set forth the president's legal powers of execution and assassination. As Democratic lawyers relentlessly pointed out when the Bush administration also concealed legal memos authorizing presidential powers, keeping such documents secret is literally tantamount to maintaining "secret law". These are legal principles governing what the president can and cannot do - purported law - and US citizens are being barred from knowing what those legal claims are.

About all of this, Esquire's Charles Pierce yesterday put it perfectly:

"This is why the argument many liberals are making - that the drone program is acceptable both morally and as a matter of practical politics because of the faith you have in the guy who happens to be presiding over it at the moment -- is criminally naive, intellectually empty, and as false as blue money to the future. The powers we have allowed to leach away from their constitutional points of origin into that office have created in the presidency a foul strain of outlawry that (worse) is now seen as the proper order of things.

"If that is the case, and I believe it is, then the very nature of the presidency of the United States at its core has become the vehicle for permanently unlawful behavior. Every four years, we elect a new criminal because that's become the precise job description."

That language may sound extreme. But it's actually mild when set next to the powers that the current president not only claims but has used. The fact that he does it all in secret - insists that even the "law" that authorizes him to do it cannot be seen by the public - is precisely why Pierce is so right when he says that "the very nature of the presidency of the United States at its core has become the vehicle for permanently unlawful behavior". To allow a political leader to claim those kinds of of powers, and to exercise them in secret, guarantee chronic criminality. [emphasis mine]


All Hail our Criminal In Chief! Yeah, I voted for him. Do you imagine another Republican president would have been better? This outlawry started with a Republican.

Of course the initial deployment of 620 drones in the US is just for surveillance.

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Replies to This Discussion

Thanks, Ruth. I'm following the drone story and have heard of drones over the USofA. This is NEWS.

I follow too news of the International Criminal Court, and am pleased that for the first time in human history an awareness is forming that a nation's people are not the property of those who govern that nation.

My form of protest is refusing to pledge allegiance to a piece of cloth. I regularly tell people "When you can accept the idea of pledging allegiance to the Constitution, let's talk." To free-thinking friends I say the word "under" concerns me as much as that other word.

One free-thinking friend raised a good point: the Constitution is a piece of paper.

I replied "Take a piece of cloth, add some emotion and we get a flag. Take a piece of paper, add some thought and we get a constitution."

If given that objection again I will say "Take a piece of paper, add some empathy and some thought and we get a constitution.

Always, we the people need political power: goals and allies.

I'll remember your description of a constitution -- well said!

sigh... I voted for Obama as being somewhat better than the Republican opponents. Still disappointing in many ways.

Anyone here know about preference voting systems that let you indicate either 1st/2nd/3rd... choices, or your (degree of) approval/disapproval of each candidate? Those ballots are unquestionably more informative than a single vote that doesn't distinguish among the other candidates. Hopefully such systems would be more resistant to the "Nader effect" where voting for the best candidate can help the worst one win. I've seen arguments both for and against Instant Runoff Voting and Score Voting.

Preference voting, yes.

The City and County of San Francisco [like Los Angeles, it's both] about two years ago started using preference voting for electing County supervisors. Many liked it; some of course did not. It makes costly runoffs unnecessary.

The method is well known to parliamentarians, but it helps to know that in the USofA p'tarians study p'tary law while in Europe legislators are known as p'tarians.

BTW. In the USofA, there are the AIP (Amer. Inst. of P'tarians) and the NAP (Nat'l Assoc. of P'tarians). NAP uses only Robert (perhaps the most difficult-to-read book in the English language) while AIP uses Robert, Sturgis (vastly easier to read) and Demeter (more explanatory but harder to find). Several national social service organizations use Sturgis. I'm a 30-year AIP member and have been published in its quarterly Journal.




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