Obama Gives Himself Permission To Kill

How long will it be before we see drone assassinations on American soil?

After stonewalling for more than a year federal judges and ordinary citizens who sought the revelation of its secret legal research justifying the presidential use of drones to kill persons overseas—even Americans—claiming the research was so sensitive and so secret that it could not be revealed without serious consequences, the government sent a summary of its legal memos to an NBC newsroom earlier this week.

This revelation will come as a great surprise, and not a little annoyance, to U.S. District Court Judge Colleen McMahon, who heard many hours of oral argument during which the government predicted gloom and doom if its legal research were subjected to public scrutiny. She very reluctantly agreed with the feds, but told them she felt caught in "a veritable Catch-22," because the feds have created "a thicket of laws and precedents that effectively allow the executive branch of our government to proclaim as perfectly lawful certain actions that seem on their face incompatible with our Constitution and laws, while keeping the reasons for their conclusion a secret."

She was writing about President Obama killing Americans and refusing to divulge the legal basis for claiming the right to do so. Now we know that basis.

The undated and unsigned 16-page document leaked to NBC refers to itself as a Department of Justice white paper. Its logic is flawed, its premises are bereft of any appreciation for the values of the Declaration of Independence and the supremacy of the Constitution, and its rationale could be used to justify any breaking of any law by any "informed, high-level official of the U.S. government."

The quoted phrase is extracted from the memo, which claims that the law reposes into the hands of any unnamed "high-level official," not necessarily the president, the lawful power to decide when to suspend constitutional protections guaranteed to all persons and kill them without any due process whatsoever. This is the power claimed by kings and tyrants. It is the power most repugnant to American values. It is the power we have arguably fought countless wars to prevent from arriving here. Now, under Obama, it is here.

This came to a boiling point when Obama dispatched CIA drones to kill New Mexico-born and al-Qaida-affiliated Anwar al-Awlaki while he was riding in a car in a desert in Yemen in September 2011. A follow-up drone, also dispatched by Obama, killed Awlaki's 16-year-old Colorado-born son and his American friend. Awlaki's American father sued the president in federal court in Washington, D.C., trying to prevent the killing. Justice Department lawyers persuaded a judge that the president always follows the law, and besides, without any evidence of presidential law breaking, the elder Awlaki had no case against the president. Within three months of that ruling, the president dispatched his drones and the Awlakis were dead. This spawned follow-up lawsuits, in one of which McMahon gave her reluctant ruling.

Then the white paper appeared. It claims that if an American is likely to trigger the use of force 10,000 miles from here, and he can't easily be arrested, he can be murdered with impunity. This notwithstanding state and federal laws that expressly prohibit non-judicial killing, an executive order signed by every president from Gerald Ford to Obama prohibiting American officials from participating in assassinations, the absence of a declaration of war against Yemen, treaties expressly prohibiting this type of killing, and the language of the Declaration, which guarantees the right to live, and the Constitution, which requires a jury trial before the government can deny that right.

The president cannot lawfully order the killing of anyone, except according to the Constitution and federal law. Under the Constitution, he can only order killing using the military when the U.S. has been attacked or when an attack is so imminent that delay would cost innocent lives. He can also order killing using the military in pursuit of a declaration of war enacted by Congress.

Unless Obama knows that an attack from Yemen on our shores is imminent, he'd be hard-pressed to argue that a guy in a car in the desert 10,000 miles from here—no matter his intentions—poses a threat so imminent to the U.S. that he needs to be killed on the spot in order to save the lives of Americans who would surely die during the time it would take to declare war on the country that harbors him, or during the time it would take to arrest him. Under no lawful circumstances may he use CIA agents for killing. Surely, CIA agents can use deadly force defensively to protect themselves and their assets, but they may not use it offensively. Federal laws against murder apply to the president and to all federal agents and personnel in their official capacities, wherever they go on the planet.

Obama has argued that he can kill Americans whose deaths he believes will keep us all safer, without any due process whatsoever. No law authorizes that. His attorney general has argued that the president's careful consideration of each target and the narrow use of deadly force are an adequate and constitutional substitute for due process. No court has ever approved that. And his national security adviser has argued that the use of drones is humane since they are "surgical" and only kill their targets. We know that is incorrect, as the folks who monitor all this say that 11 percent to 17 percent of the 2,300 drone-caused deaths have been those of innocent bystanders.

Did you consent to a government that can kill whom it wishes? How about one that plays tricks on federal judges? How long will it be before the presidential killing comes home?

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  • WTF||

    Its logic is flawed, its premises are bereft of any appreciation for the values of the Declaration of Independence and the supremacy of the Constitution, and its rationale could be used to justify any breaking of any law by any "informed, high-level official of the U.S. government."

    In other words, the white paper is really just a longer version of "Fuck you, that's why."

  • deified||

    Napolitano can't get on any TV network except FoxNews or FoxBusiness. So TEAM BLUE doesn't have to acknowledge that he exists or profess even a scintilla of concern about random human beings getting their asses exploded from the sky.

    Fuck you, it's OBAMA-TIME.

    For all TEAM BLUE cares, all criticism of BHO may as well be coming from the mouths of 4-year-olds.

    Aren't we all lucky to be Americans?

  • wareagle||

    and he can only get on Fox as a guest. His regular show was shut down, probably because of too much Paul-touting and too much talk about icky concepts like liberty.

    You can minimize that point of view by giving Stossel a once a week show, but the judge's nightly platform was more than the system could stand.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    This post should be deemed an imminent threat to the safety of American citizens and dealt with accordingly.

  • WTF||

    The drone is on its way.

  • ||

    Weigel over at Slate writes up Rand Paul's views on this. Go on, read the comments because you hate yourself

  • GILMORE||

    oh god.

    i did. now i am covered in my own vomit.

  • Certified Public Asskicker||

    I am surprised by the number of "I agree with Rand Paul. Help! What do I do?" comments.

  • Drake||

    They were amusing. If Rand Paul ever got onto a national stage to debate Biden or Clinton, there would be an epidemic of panicked lefties.

  • Matrix||

    And his national security adviser has argued that the use of drones is humane since they are "surgical" and only kill their targets. We know that is incorrect, as the folks who monitor all this say that 11 percent to 17 percent of the 2,300 drone-caused deaths have been those of innocent bystanders.

    Well, you can make an omelette without breaking a few eggs... And if they didn't want to be killed, they shouldn't have been anywhere near a known terrorist.
    /neocon thug

    *barf*

  • ||

    Well, you can make an omelette without breaking a few eggs... And if they didn't want to be killed, they shouldn't have been anywhere near a known terrorist.
    /neocon thug

    No, that's probably a progressive response too, judging by the scumbag commenters at Slate

  • Bill Dalasio||

    You assume there's a huge difference between the two. Remember neoconservatism rose out of leftists who decided to become "conservatives".

  • Drake||

    It is "surgical" on our end. The decision is made in a very clean room with a nice coffee / tea service from the White House kitchen.

    Somebody in a nice clean CIA or military building pushes a clean button and that's it. Surgical.

    No need for rough mean men like Rangers or Seals to get involved. Nobody has to see the blood or clean up the bodies.

    Surgical.

  • fresno dan||

    eggs are well known for supporting terrorists - if omlets suffer collateral damage, that is an outcome of war.

    US Gubermint OFFICIAL: Step away from the egg cartons....

  • waaminn||

    Dude has got the power.

    www.AnoTimes.tk

  • ||

    SNAP! goes the Pedo-Bot.

  • CatoTheElder||

    "In a profound sense, the idea of binding down power
    with the chains of a written constitution has proved to be a
    noble experiment that failed."

    -- M. Rothbard, For a New Liberty

    "[A]ny written limits that leave it to government
    to interpret its own powers are bound to be interpreted
    as sanctions for expanding and not binding those
    powers. ... The idea of a strictly limited government
    has proved to be utopian."

  • DaveAnthony||

    He should be impeached and everyone who participated in these illegal killings should be jailed.

  • Raven Nation||

    "Awlaki's American father sued the president in federal court in Washington, D.C., trying to prevent the killing."

    Anybody know how the chronology worked on this? Since the father sued in court, he must have had some idea that Awlaki was a target. How did that information get out? Or was the son on a "watch list" and the father assumed he would be targeted?

  • rollcast||

    Wondered the same thing. THAT seems like the juicy story here.

  • Capt Ace Rimmer||

    this is Obama's legacy... keep reminding him.

  • Loki||

    Federal laws against murder apply to the president and to all federal agents and personnel in their official capacities, wherever they go on the planet.

    Silly judge, laws are for proles, not kings.

    Drone dispatched to Judge Napolitano's location in 3... 2... 1...

  • Matt_S||

    "Well, when the President does it, that means that it is not illegal."

  • GetABrainMorans||

    How in the hell is this not bigger news? How come half of the country still thinks this guy is a hero? WHY ARE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE NOT STOMPING PVT OBAMA'S GUTS OUT?! This is the most egregious abuse of power that the American people have seen in a long, long time, and most people just shrug? How is he not being impeached swiftly and prudently?

  • sasob||

    Because his fellow criminals Democrats have a majority in the Senate and would never convict him even if he proved to be a serial child or sex killer. That's how.

  • rollcast||

    Because Obama.

  • ChrisO||

    As long as the Free Shit keeps flowing, the people will stay silent.

  • Jackson Rand||

    First, the fact that a 12 year old use of force authorization is currently being used as a justification for killing anyone anywhere in the world is disturbing enough. That it is used as a justification to kill Americans without judicial review is appalling.

    The White House justification that such a kill list is both necessary and, because of operation timelines, requires the Executive branch to bypass any judicial review process.

    This is an unadulterated lie. As a 30 year US Air Force veteran I am both very familiar how these lists are created and how they are used in the field to target those listed. These lists are actually very static at the top. Low level individuals change quite frequently, but higher level targets remain on the list for weeks, months and even years. There is nothing whatsoever prohibiting the creation of a FISA type court to which the Executive Branch can go to to have American citizens declared enemy combatants. You could even use the same courts. Why isn't this being done?

  • Loki||

    Why isn't this being done?

    I think we all know the answer to that question. Say it with me now: "FUCK YOU, THAT'S WHY!"

  • DK||

    I wish I was a history teacher at the elder Obama's daughter's school. I wonder how long I would last after discussion of Daddy's extrajudicial killings. Would the union protect me?

  • Albertus Magnus||

    Nothing could protect you at that point. I read somewhere they have a list for people like you.

  • Fladnag the Yarg||

    A drone strike would be to kind for such a dissident. You would be murdered slowly, which would be recorded so king BHO could gleefully watch it over and over.

  • fresno dan||

    obviously, your lack of familiarity with reality - our dear leader won a NOBLE PEACE PRIZE - means that you are mentally ill, so you would be confined to a mental hospital until you realize that war is peace, black is white, and right is wrong....

  • Danny Jeffrey||

    I am very skeptical of this whole thing...
    http://www.freedomrings1776.co......html#more

  • Bill Dalasio||

    ou know, I could see how you could arrive at the notion that waterboarding and assassination are both wrong. I could see how you could arrive at the conclusion that waterboarding is okay, but assassination is wrong. But, honestly, I'm at a loss how anyone could arrive at the notion that we're allowed to assassinate people but not waterboard them.

  • fresno dan||

    could we assassinate them by hitting them really hard and repeatably with a waterboard?

  • sasob||

    ...and the language of the Declaration, which guarantees the right to live, and the Constitution, which requires a jury trial before the government can deny that right.

    Uh, not anymore. Since Obamacare's passage you got to pay for all that by buying health insurance or else paying the penalty/tax.

  • ||

    the great Constitution helped to make possible assassination by nuclear weapon, too. but drones are far more precise, and this means less collateral damage. so the use of drones is win-win!

  • eMoticians||

    Don't drone me BrO

  • Perry5||

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  • fresno dan||

    "How long will it be before we see drone assassinations on American soil?"

    Well, if you include the "Americans" I imagine it will start by taking out a "narcoterrorist" because anybody who doesn't want to blow a commie fascist pedophile iran loving drug dealing scum into a billion bits hates 'Merica.

    Than its a pretty simple matter to get the drug guys who actually have crossed the border.

    Than the SPLC will point out a few klu klux klanners, and what right thinking person would prevent them from being taken out?

    And viola - government extra judicial killing santioned by the US gubermint, and endorsed by the NYT.

    Limited government - we hardly knew ye...

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  • GSK67||

    Where is the outrage by the news media, if this was a policy of G. Bush they would be screaming bloody murder.

  • Peyton32||

    like Benjamin said I cant believe that anyone can make $4884 in 1 month on the computer. have you read this site http://www.FLY38.COM

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