Liberal Demands Assassination Orders Be Filed in Triplicate

On Monday, Attorney General Eric Holder finally explained why it’s legal for him to annihilate you on a hunch. The nation’s liberals arose as one to condemn this brazen attack on American principles of…

Hehe, just kidding. The nation’s liberals were all listening to Rush Limbaugh during Holder’s speech, but a few of them skimmed it later. And, boy, were they ever pretty much OK with it. Mother Jones‘s Kevin Drum, who has raised being “pretty much OK” with things to the status of serious analysis, sighed and shrugged a little more vigorously than usual:

I’m glad Holder gave this speech. I’m glad that he expanded (a bit) on the three circumstances that govern the Obama administration’s decisions to kill U.S. citizens abroad. I’m glad he agrees that these decisions are “extraordinarily weighty” and “among the gravest that government leaders can face.”

Nonetheless, even more than a thousand words of throat clearing can’t hide the fact that Holder simply provided no evidence that the rigor of the executive branch’s due process procedures matches his rhetoric; no evidence that these procedures are consistently followed; and negative evidence that there’s any reasonable oversight of the process. Merely informing Congress is the farthest thing imaginable from rigorous, independent oversight.

Holder’s job, of course, was an impossible one. The Obama administration, like the Bush administration before it, has made a deliberate decision that actions like this are authorized by a combination of the 2001 AUMF and the president’s inherent commander-in-chief powers.

Now you need to know that this Bush comparison isn’t meant to be as damning as it sounds; Drum was pretty much OK with Bush killing whomever he wanted (see the first link above). But process is somewhat kind of semi-significant to liberals, so Drum appended this postscript:

This post wasn’t about my own position on this topic, but here it is. I agree that we’re at war. [Drink! – Ed.] Like it or not, the AUMF is an extremely broad grant of authority. I agree that stateless terrorists pose unique challenges. I agree that targeting them for killing is sometimes necessary, even if they’re U.S. citizens. I agree that Holder’s three principles form a good starting point for deciding when a targeted killing is justified.

But it’s simply not tolerable to take the view that the entire world is now a battlefield, and therefore battlefield rules of engagement apply everywhere. If you want to kill a U.S. citizen outside of a traditional hot battlefield, there needs to be independent oversight. The FISA court performs this function for surveillance, and we know from experience that it rarely gets in the government’s way. But at least it’s technically independent and forces the executive branch to follow its own rules. It’s the absolute minimum that we should require for targeted killings too.

And here we have the American liberal’s ideal form of government oversight: the kind that generates a lot of paperwork (and civil service man-hours) but “rarely gets in the government’s way.” It’s the absolute minimum we should require — if by “absolute minimum” you mean “absolute maximum” and if by “require” you mean “quickly suggest then never mention again.” Only crackpots really give a damn about this stuff.

One thought on “Liberal Demands Assassination Orders Be Filed in Triplicate”

  1. Due process/rule of law – bullsh*t. Cavalier grovelling before Imperial murder – pretty dang keen.

  2. Wow! So Mother Jones marches lockstep with National Review? Who da thunk it. Guess there are Blue as well as Red state fascists.

  3. This is also why they prefer the civilian courts over the military ones. In a civilian court the prosecutor just has to mention AlQaeda three times and get a conviction for life. Plea bargain through torture and threat is a routine affair. Something that can barely destroy an underwear could be designated as a weapon of mass destruction.

  4. We REALLY need to repeal the AUMF. Like most government programs it has cost far more than expected, expanded far beyond its initial scope, and has long since outlived its usefulness.

    Sadly, if you read the text, the AUMF gives some pretty broad legal cover for this crap…

    "That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons."

    One would hope that common sense would reign, and that this would only allow attacks on those who actually were responsible for 9/11. But by choosing the word 'organizations', Congress gave any President carte blanche to attack any one 'he determines' as related to al Qaeda.


    Peace be with you.

    1. Who is "we"? Don't you think there is a reason "we" haven't repealed it by now? Why haven't "we" repealed the patriot act?

    2. Nothing can give legal cover when the constitutional basis is lacking. It's a trapdoor for the Constitution, but the "quaint document" described by ex-Bush AG Alberto Gonzalez is still down there in all the dust.

  5. Tyranny that rests it's power on a fake birth certificate and one or more bogus social security numbers.

    Kinda shaky. It'nt it?

  6. Sir, you insult me. I am a liberal and I have been blasting away at Holder and Obama since this thing hit. I notice the ACLU is on the case. I see Jonathan Turley has a thing or two to say. So stop bashing us. We are not crappy old social conservatives. And we are not all for the 1%. We love America and the last thing, the very last thing we as liberals want is a police state.

    The birthers are still hanging their hat on something as insubstantial as Limbaugh's idiotic idea that "we" are paying for someone's birth control when they are on a college health plan which their tuition partly pays for. The fact is that if Obama's mama's American, then he is too. Doesn't matter if one parent isn't, and it doesn't matter what country he was born in either. George Romney, Mitt's dad, ran for President though born to two Americans in Mexico (who themselves may even have been Mexican born). McCain was born in Panama. But who cares?

    You know what the problem is with these false issue folks? They try and trap someone for something unimportant. They want to eensie-weensie spider something into existence, so they can have trivial impeachment based on a narrow set of issues. Why not think bigger? Impeach on what this president did and what the next one, especially if he is a war-mongering Republican like the ones who want a war with Iran, surely will do. Impeach because a big attack on the Constitution has happened. Forget your long love affair with Ken Starr.

  7. Here's the deal: cite chapter and verse. Under Article 1, section 9 of the US Constitution (that "quaint document" according to Bush's AG Alberto Gonzalez), the Congress shall not issue a "bill of attainder", that is it may not outlaw, make a felon of a person, deprive him of life, liberty or property, without due process of law. Yet the President relies on powers the Congress (impotent as it is to be judge jury and executioner) supposedly has granted him under the AUMF, the Patriot Act and/or the NDAA, which he just signed. Those powers are based on a violation of the Constitution insofar as they allow the killing of a US citizen because men meeting secretly have sentenced him to death by hellfire missile.

    Hew to the language of the Constitution. Do not put aside language in favor of action here. Convict them with the language of the law. Then when they speak, turn your back on them, deprive them of support. Occupy what they imagine are their streets. Demand that law be restored.

    If that doesn't work, then remember the words of Thomas Jefferson on the subject. But first children, use your words.

  8. It struck me, that the old American tradition of hangings of people, they disliked or believed criminals, are now becoming the very social foundation of the society itself.

    1. Witches are always guilty, always available, and generally convenient. Only the name changes. Right now, I think the ony thing holding up a widespread awareness of what you describe is that 'we' feel superior to those 'ancient,' 'backward,' 'unenlightened' lynch mobs and witch-hunters. Surely it-couldn't-happen to 'us.' But their behaviors would have been as plausibly moral to 'them' as these are to 'us.' The real difference between 'us' and 'them' is about three cents a pound.

      1. You have both said it well, because it is a simple proposition. There have been attempts to understand the Salem witch trials (sometimes by a simple economic theory in which they were after the land of the so-called witches, sometimes by emphasizing the weird behavior of the girls and thinking it might have been mass hysteria or perhaps a reaction to eating moldy foods which created temporary insanity the way LSD does), but the problem is that they were not the only witch trials in the region. This was a group of people who had a sense of religious self-righteousness and a sense they had been persecuted in England.

        I came upon the story of a man executed in New Haven because he was accused of bestiality. What had happened was he'd sold a pregnant sow to a neighbor. One of the piglets was born with a flat face and looked like a baby. He was accused of having produced it and tortured until he confessed. He was hanged. We of course know better. And yet 21st century people who heard this story, going with the 17th century mob, actually thought there had been evidence presented of bestiality. Where is the evidence? Once the impression is formed in the imagination, it is hard to unstick it.

        So when you walk across the Yale campus, if you ever do, think about this poor man who died the way many others have died recently -killed by people who are delusional. Perhaps the place is accursed to this day. Perhaps the evil spirits there possessed George Bush. Or perhaps we are as a species just as stupid as we were in the 17th century – probably stupider.

  9. Plea bargain through torture and threat is a routine affair. Something that can barely destroy an underwear could be designated as a weapon of mass destruction.

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