US Mulls Drone-Killing Citizen Overseas Suspected of Terrorism

Avoid weddings in isolated locations for the time being.Defence Images / Foter / CC BY-NCThe Associated Press reports this morning that the United States is considering whether to use drones to execute an American citizen overseas suspected of planning terrorist attacks as a member of al Qaeda. The problem is not lack of due process, but rather the fact that the unnamed country will not cooperate with the United States in allowing military drones to fly over and bomb people. That creates a little bit of a problem, the AP notes:

The CIA drones watching him cannot strike because he's a U.S. citizen and the Justice Department must build a case against him, a task it hasn't completed.

Four U.S. officials said the American suspected terrorist is in a country that refuses U.S. military action on its soil and that has proved unable to go after him. And President Barack Obama's new policy says American suspected terrorists overseas can only be killed by the military, not the CIA, creating a policy conundrum for the White House.

Two of the officials described the man as an al-Qaida facilitator who has been directly responsible for deadly attacks against U.S. citizens overseas and who continues to plan attacks against them that would use improvised explosive devices.

But one U.S. official said the Defense Department was divided over whether the man is dangerous enough to merit the potential domestic fallout of killing an American without charging him with a crime or trying him, and the potential international fallout of such an operation in a country that has been resistant to U.S. action.

Another of the U.S. officials said the Pentagon did ultimately decide to recommend lethal action.

Officials believe capture is not possible due to the suspect’s remote location. The DOJ is currently putting together its case so that President Barack Obama can decide whether to order his death. The AP notes the administration is using the same legal procedure it used to assassinate Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen in 2011. One notable difference is that that the president has new guidelines for drone strikes that require the strike be necessary to stop future attacks on Americans and that no other alternatives exist, though given that there’s no oversight for such determinations outside the executive branch, we’re all supposed to trust the president to make the right decision. The Associated Press even notes that the administration could just decide to carve out an “exception” and authorize a CIA strike anyway.

The other, larger difference is that the Yemeni government has permitted drone strikes in their country (though perhaps not for too much longer). One can imagine the potential fallout from a US drone strike in a country that has been refusing to let us in, particularly if bystanders end up getting killed, as tends to happen.

Speaking of which, Jesse Walker noted earlier the launch today of Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill’s new venture. It’s about how the National Security Agency uses phone metadata to organize drone strikes and how it results in innocent folks being murdered. What good timing.

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  • Heroic Mulatto||

    One can imagine the potential fallout from a US drone strike in a country that has been refusing to let us in, particularly if bystanders end up getting killed, as tends to happen.

    Where I come from, we call that casus belli.

  • Swiss Servator, Befehl!||

    You come from Rome?!

    Excellent! Welcome, Quirite. So, are the doors to the Temple of Janus open now?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Portae templi Iani aperitur aeterno.

  • ||

    The Associated Press even notes that the administration could just decide to carve out an “exception” and authorize a CIA strike anyway.

    I'm going to say it's a safe bet this is probably going to happen. Obama isn't used to being told that he can't kill someone. He might throw a tantrum.

  • Raven Nation||

    Obama isn't used to being told that he can't kill someone

    FIFY

  • waffles||

    But he told us he can't reschedule marijuana. Oh, that's different. I see.

  • wareagle||

    "..the Defense Department was divided over whether the man is dangerous enough to merit the potential domestic fallout of killing an American without charging him with a crime or trying him.."

    what domestic fallout? From the few members of Congress whom the King/Feinstein nexus will describe as either weak on terror or unfit to hold office, or maybe both?

    Sentence first, trial later. We're way beyond looking glass limitations at this point.

  • Sevo||

    "what domestic fallout?"
    A senate seat might go to an R; these are serious matters!

  • WTF||

    You mean like the domestic fallout over killing Awlaki, and his teenage son? Oh that's right, there was none.

  • ~Knarf Yenrab~||

    That's not true. Obama was re-elected in a landslide while the tiny percentage of Americans who were aware of and horrified by the President's unconstitutional execution of three American citizens, none of them tried or even formally accused, lost all faith in the electorate to make remotely moral decisions regarding their representatives in the republic.

    The Constitution has zero power when no one's willing to enforce it or punish bad actors who violate it with impunity.

  • Loki||

    what domestic fallout?

    As long as the Choco-Nixon messiah dreamboat is president, none.

  • sarcasmic||

    The problem is not lack of due process, but rather the fact that the unnamed country will not cooperate with the United States in allowing military drones to fly over and bomb people.

    Since when was cooperation needed?

  • WTF||

    So "no" doesn't really mean "no"?

  • SugarFree||

    Four U.S. officials said the American suspected terrorist is in a country that refuses U.S. military action on its soil and that has proved unable to go after him.

    Kill him with an airburst and make sure all the bomb parts float upward.

    The idea that we can kill someone with a drone strike and it's not a "military action" is extremely hazardous example of doublespeak with chilling implications for domestic law enforcement.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Chilling implications for the U.S., too, when we lose our total military supremacy. Oh, it's okay to drone people across borders, even without a state of war?

  • ||

    It's very simple. If the war pigs want someone dead, they get to kill them. Isn't that what they've always wanted? Isn't that the ultimate expression of political power? The power over life or death?

  • Pro Libertate||

    I pardon you.

  • ||

    Good, because that fart I just ripped was heinous.

  • playa manhattan||

    A black and blue ribeye will do that to you.

  • SugarFree||

    Stuffed with hard-boiled eggs and finished off with a refreshing glass of blue cheese.

  • ||

    NutraSweet knows what I like.

  • SugarFree||

    Oh, it's okay to drone people across borders, even without a state of war?

    But when it happens, there's no way it could ever be considered the "b-word."

  • Acosmist||

    I don't think any country around except ours would ever even care; if we hadn't set the precedent, they'd do it anyway. Rules of war aren't something that make any sense to, say, the Chinese. So this argument is pretty bad.

  • Gene Poole||

    Yeah.

  • John||

    I am not sure it is saying that. I thought the point was that the country is saying no to military action and we are going to do it anyway. But maybe I am confused in my reading.

  • RBS||

    Why can't they be saying both?

  • John||

    I guess I don't see how it is saying bombing this guy isn't a military action.

  • RBS||

    ELAINE: So Joe Mayo had the same coat.

    GEORGE: And you threw it out the window?

    ELAINE: Mm-hmm.

    GEORGE: God, you're like a rock star.

    ELAINE: So now Joe Mayo wants me to buy him a new coat.

    JERRY: Because you threw it out.

    ELAINE: No, because I was in charge of the coats. It's... insane.

    JERRY: But you did actually throw his coat out the window.

    ELAINE: But he doesn't know that. As far as he knows, somebody stole it, and that's the person who should be responsible.

    JERRY: But that's you.

    ELAINE: So I guess I'll have to buy him a new coat, even though I don't think I should be held responsible, which I am anyway.

  • John||

    It is an administration about nothing, except they have access to bombs.

  • SugarFree||

    I'm more objecting to the notion that military action is only via invading force (aka "boots on the ground").

    Droning people is a military action, Barry.

  • ||

    ^THIS^

  • John||

    Yes it is.

  • Gene Poole||

    Well, yeah. Especially since it's being sold as a cleaner, no-boys-coming-home-in-boxes way to take... military action.

  • Agammamon||

    Yeah, what's confusing here is that Obama considers using aircraft to attack people to not be 'war' or 'conflict'. Why can't eh just use the same rationale here?

    "Look, I don't know why you're so mad, its not like we attacked you or anything. We just used a drone to kill someone in your territory - that's, technically, not 'conflict', its 'kinetic military action'."

  • Nazdrakke||

    So, Pearl Harbor was not an act of war by his logic?

  • WTF||

    No "boots on the ground", so yeah.

  • kinnath||

    All those years spent worrying about Mutually Assured Destruction were clearly wasted because the exchange of thermonuclear devices doesn't meet the definition of war.

  • ~Knarf Yenrab~||

    The ability to manipulate and torture of language has been the only real executive constraint for the past couple of administrations.

    I thought the bad ole days were when Yoo was legally rechristening torture, and now we have a President who's actively trying to redefine acts of war and developing a reconciliation of the 5A with the assassination of his own (untried) constituents.

  • BambiB||

    Does the same logic apply to O-Bomb-Ya! ??

    "Oh, that's not a sniper's bullet. That's just a contribution of a .308 diameter lead sample for your cranial mineral collection."

  • Loki||

    If only we had a 5 MWatt space laser...

    "So it's both immoral *and* unethical?"

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Just send the Fullerton PD after him with a warrant for loitering and disturbing the peace. The ultimate effect will be the same.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    The problem is not lack of due process

    Oh?

  • WTF||

    Yeah, the Obama administration does not consider that a problem at all.

  • kinnath||

    All those years spent worrying about Mutually Assured Destruction were clearly wasted because the exchange of thermonuclear devices doesn't meet the definition of war.

  • kinnath||

    wrong fucking place

  • ~Knarf Yenrab~||

    To borrow from another smug jackass, due process is just a process that you do.

  • ||

    There was a process. DoD review is a process, right?

  • Sevo||

    Why are 'they' mulling it? King Obo 1st can simply pull the trigger, can't he?

  • WTF||

    Well, he did say he is good at killing people.

  • GroundTruth||

    You think he's worried about that? If he were, would he have signed the "ACA" bull?

  • GroundTruth||

    er, bill

  • Loki||

    I think you had it right the first time.

  • SugarFree||

    This is a trail balloon. Mid-terms are coming up, ya know.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    The DOJ is currently putting together its case so that President Barack Obama can decide whether to order his death.

    Tried in absentia by a secret court. To justify a predetermined death sentence. It doesn't get any more due-processy than that.

  • ||

  • John||

    The Star Chamber at least generally got the right guys. We should be so lucky with this group.

  • BambiB||

    Maybe we can get O-Dumbo to order a hit on the terrorist who lives at 38.8977° N, 77.0366° W.

    From his statements on the economy, I'd guess his math is piss-poor, and he clearly doesn't know the difference between the US and other countries (based in part on his unilateral, er… POLICE action on Libya.)

  • ||

    No Due Process for you! One year!

  • John||

    But one U.S. official said the Defense Department was divided over whether the man is dangerous enough to merit the potential domestic fallout of killing an American without charging him with a crime or trying him, and the potential international fallout of such an operation in a country that has been resistant to U.S. action.

    First, either the guy is a combatant or he isn't. If he is, then he is a lawful target and can be shot in sight. If he is not, then he is not a lawful target. How dangerous he is has no role in that determination. If it did, shooting an enemy soldier sleeping in his bunk would be unlawful, which it isn't.

    The fact that DOD is even debating how "dangerous" this guy is, shows how defective their thinking on these issues has become. The entire argument for being able to target terrorists is that they are effectively waging war on the US and are thus enemy soldiers and lawful targets. Having the status as a lawful target is not a sliding scale. You either are one or you are not. You don't become one by being "dangerous" whatever that is. You become one by being in an enemy army.

  • John||

    I could almost live with a rule that says "Al Quada is an enemy Army and all members of it will be shot on sight." There are some issues with that but it at least follows the logic of the law of war and there is some history of governments doing just that sort of thing in times of war. But saying "we will target you if a group of top men think you are "dangerous" is much worse, since the status of being dangerous isn't tied to much of anything other than the government doesn't like you.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Leftists yowl like stuck pigs at Israel's policy of targeted assassination of Hamas and Hezbollah leaders, yet when Obama copies the policy; lock, stock and barrel, there is nary a peep from the Left.

  • John||

    That is an excellent point. And the Israelis at least go after the leaders. Obama seems to mostly go after various low level goons and hangers on.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Just how many "seconds-in-command" does Al Q. need, anyway?

  • John||

    And what exactly counts as a "AQ leader"? Does AQ file disclosure forms listing their corporate leadership with the SEC or something?

  • ||

    Probably. You know how the IRS is. They don't care what you do as long as you file correctly and pay your taxes.

  • Swiss Servator, Befehl!||

    *BOOM*

    One more.

  • R C Dean||

    Just how many "seconds-in-command" does Al Q. need, anyway?

    Only on at a time?

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    That cuts both ways does it not? How do those here who would defend Israel's targeted assassinations argue against the US doing the same?

  • John||

    I wasn't aware that anyone here defended Israel's policy in that regard. If you can provide a link to such statements, we will ask those people why they attack Obama's policy.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    So you condemn Israel's targeted assassinations?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    How do those here who would defend Israel's targeted assassinations argue against the US doing the same?

    The set "those here who would defend Israel's targeted assassinations" only includes one poster*, "Underzog". As Underzog posts with the regularity of a total solar eclipse, you'll be waiting a long time for that answer.

    (Ok, ok..maybe Cytotoxic, also. Maybe.)

  • John||

    In some circumstances sure. As I discuss at length below, the problem is that AQ no longer rises to the level of cohesion to amount to an enemy force. So applying the laws of war to our actions is very problematic.

    Israel in contrast faces organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah that clearly do rise to that level. If Hezbollah is an enemy force, killing its leader is an act of war not a war crime or murder.

    So my mind, the two policies are different and Israel's less problematic, though I don't keep score at home and am open to the possibility that not all of Israel's assignations are legal. But one thing is for sure, if you object to Israel, you must object to Obama to avoid being a hypocrite.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    "But one thing is for sure, if you object to Israel, you must object to Obama to avoid being a hypocrite."

    I would agree there, whatever justification for this Obama can put forward would apply with more strength to Israel.

  • R C Dean||

    How do those here who would defend Israel's targeted assassinations argue against the US doing the same?

    There are a few distinctions that could justify the one but not the other, like:

    The Hez/Hamas leadership is directing ongoing military strikes at Israel itself, to the tune of lots of rockets and mortar shells. Its not much of a stretch to say that a state of war exists between Hez/Hamas and Israel, which justifies Israel engaging in war-fighting activities (like missiles) against the enemy in their home turf.

    Harder to make that case with AQ and the US.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    "Harder to make that case with AQ and the US."

    But as John points out infra we do seem to have a declared war on AQ.

  • John||

    Sure. And such strikes in the past probably were legal. But as I also point out below, AQ no longer exists in the form that it did in 2001. At some point the other force ceases to exist.

    What we are doing now is analogous to assassinating former SS soldiers in South America in 1948,

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    So you are essentially arguing that 'Mission Accomplished' under Bush or something?

  • R C Dean||

    But as John points out infra we do seem to have a declared war on AQ.

    Form v. Substance, my undereducated legal friend. Note the following features which are absent from the AQ v US conflict:

    ongoing military strikes at Israel US itself, to the tune of lots of rockets and mortar shells.

    Less clear, but still present:

    Israel The US engaging in war-fighting activities (like missiles) against the enemy in their home turf

    Hamas has a clearly identified areas where they are the "elected" rulers. Hez is in de facto control of a big chunk of Lebanon, and I believe is part of the government there officially.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    The problem is that the distinction between civilian political leader and insurgent commander is blurry with Hezbollah and Hamas, both of which are "revolutionary" parties. Especially now that Hez sits in the Lebanese parliament. If I kill one of their leaders, am I just killing the Minister of the Interior or was he a general too?

  • John||

    I would argue it is legal to kill government officials who not part of the military. Killing the ministry of interior is an act of war against Lebanon but not an unlawful targeting.

  • Gene Poole||

    Tell me where you are, and I'll tell you where Left is. Opponents of Israel's government and its policies oppose its assassinations. Supporters of Obama support his drone killings. Left and Right have nothing to do with it.

  • kinnath||

    You're safe if you're a highly-ineffective terrorist.

  • John||

    That seems to be the thinking. Forget the issue of whether we can target people. Just assume for a moment we can. DOD is telling you, "sure we can kill our enemies and yes it is our duty to do so, but we only do that when we deem one of them 'dangerous' enough to warrant killing. If the person is just trying to attack the US but doesn't seem very good at it, we generally leave them alone."

    That seems to be the thinking here.

  • SugarFree||

    "Al Quada is an enemy Army and all members of it will be shot on sight."

    The problem is that Obama likes to define someone/an event as AQ when useful (drone strikes) and not-AQ when he needs cover (Benghazi.)

    It seems like we lack the necessary intelligence and leadership to make "strike AQ wherever" a morally defensible position.

  • John||

    It seems like we lack the necessary intelligence and leadership to make "strike AQ wherever" a morally defensible position.

    Exactly that. And AQ isn't a coherent enough of an organization for that even if we did have a moral leadership. AQ was at some point prior to 9-11 such an organization. But now it is just an ideology and battle flag anyone is free to take up. There are not AQ leaders. There are just various collections of loosely affiliated losers talking shit and looking to do harm. That is it.

    The funny thing about this is that we actually did win the war on terror. The people behind 9-11 were all killed or imprisoned and the entire organization that was AQ as we knew it in 2001 was pretty much eliminated. But for whatever reason we can't seem to admit victory.

  • SugarFree||

    It's the fan dance of "doing something." They are addicted to it. You can't say Obama is soft on terrorism, because he is "doing something." You can't say Obama doesn't care about healthcare in America because he's "doing something."

    Both the right and left have fallen into the intentions trap.

  • John||

    They totally have. And they have also fallen into the "all risk can be eliminated" camp. What should have happened was Obama should have come out and thank George Bush for his efforts and declared victory over AQ while explaining that thanks to the efforts of the last 8 years or whatever we now face nothing but the risk of low level bombings like what happened in Boston instead of the kind of mass killing we say on 911. He then could have rethought the entire approach to homeland defense and looked bipartisan doing so. I mean what would the Republicans have said "you are wrong, George Bush didn't succeed"?

    Instead, they live in terror of something happening and being held responsible for it. So nothing ever changes. It is forever 9-12-01.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    It is unthinkable that Obama could have come into office and declared Bush's efforts to be successful. For one thing, it would be mistaken, but more importantly running as Anti-Bush was one of his two cards to play ('first Black President' being the other). He is a political animal and he was not going to lay that card down for anything (he still has not).

  • John||

    For one thing, it would be mistaken, but more importantly running as Anti-Bush was one of his two cards to play ('first Black President' being the other).

    Obama continued all of Bush's anti terrorism policies, despite running as the "anti Bush". And his brain dead supporters didn't care.

    He could have totally done that. First, everyone who wasn't a hardcore prog thought Obama was a reasonable centrist who was going to get both sides to work together and end all of the nastiness of the Bush years. Declaring Bush's policies a success and ending them would have fit perfectly with that image. Second, his prog supporters have repeatedly proven that they will support him no matter how much hypocrisy it requires. The only people left to bitch would have been Bush National Security conservatives who would have looked pretty stupid saying Obama was wrong in calling their efforts a complete success.

  • sarcasmic||

    Principals trump principles.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Whatever his policies might be, Obama's political rhetoric has always been steeped in 'Bush=bad" and I doubt if even some of the more die hard supporters would have kept doing so if he were publicly praising Bush.

  • John||

    Whatever his policies might be, Obama's political rhetoric has always been steeped in 'Bush=bad" and I doubt if even some of the more die hard supporters would have kept doing so if he were publicly praising Bush

    That is why they were up in arms and ran a primary challenger against him in 2012 after he remained in Iraq and never closed GUITMO and such.

    Obama broke pretty much every single promise he made on this issue in very public and obvious ways. Yet, he never suffered a single consequence with his supporters for doing so.

    You can make believe that his hands were tied all you want. But the actual events show otherwise.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    I doubt it would be helpful to once again point out that I am talking about Obama's political rhetoric as opposed to his actions.

  • John||

    No. Because everyone say his actions and didn't care. What you are saying is "progs" are okay with anything except saying something nice about Bush. And they are pretty stupid. But they are not that stupid and you know they are not.

  • Gene Poole||

    Excellent points. But please stop using catchall catchwords like "progs". It gives the impression that this is a partisan site. If you are not a "prog," what convenient catchword describes you? If there is none, then it's not legitimate for you to use one to describe... what? Whom?

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    I generally agree John, but this guy is a US citizen, which adds yet another layer to it, as the pesky 5th Amendment comes into play. This has gotten so out of control that the administration claims it can kill pretty much anybody anywhere who can spell Al Quada.

    The way I see it, in order to kill this guy you would need the following:

    1. A declaration of war from Congress against Al Quada. (which we don't have)
    2. Be declared an enemy combatant.
    3. Because he's a US citizen, he must be given due process (5A) either tried in absentia OR be charged and convicted of treason IAW the constitution.
    4. And provided we are not in a declared war with the country he's in, the permission to strike him within their borders.

  • John||

    1. A declaration of war from Congress against Al Quada. (which we don't have)

    We do have that. The Congress authorized war against AQ in 2001. I am not going to have the argument about "they didn't call it that". The country and the courts consider it a declaration of war and that is good enough for the purposes of this issue. We can have that debate elsewhere.

    2. Be declared an enemy combatant.

    Not necessarily. You can declare yourself an enemy combatant. If an American was serving in the German Army in 1944, there would be no need to "declare him an enemy combatant" before shooting him on Omahah beach. He declared himself.

    3. Because he's a US citizen, he must be given due process (5A) either tried in absentia OR be charged and convicted of treason IAW the constitution.

    Not if AQ were an actual Army making war on the US. If it were an Army, he is not entitled to shit beyond the pleasure of being murdered on sight. The problem here is that AQ is not really an army and doesn't rise to the level of even being analogous to one these days. So these principals really don't apply very well.

  • John||

    4. And provided we are not in a declared war with the country he's in, the permission to strike him within their borders.

    That has nothing to do with him. If we strike without their permission we are engaging in act of war against that country. Serious issue of whether we should do that or not. But that issue has nothing to do with this guy in particular.

    What we are left with is that AQ is no longer a coherent enough organization for the law of war to apply. We have a single guy trying to do harm. If the country hosting him refuses to arrest him and hand him over, our issue is with that country. The solution is to consider his actions to be an act of war by that country, since knowingly allowing irregular forces to operate within your borders is an act of war.

    The solution shouldn't be "well we think he might be in AQ so lets kill him even though he is not on a battlefield.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    1. I really hope you aren't talking about the AUMF here...words have meanings.

    2. You can kill anyone actively participating against you (self defense). I'd agree that if we had #1, he would automatically be an enemy combatant (in the case of a declared war against members of a certain group, but not necessarily against a country). But that is not the case.

    3. I don't see any exception to 5A (looked twice).

    4. Agree.

  • John||

    1. I really hope you aren't talking about the AUMF here...words have meanings.

    Sure they do. And last I looked "authorizing the use of military force" was another way of saying "make war". To pretend it means something else is to be as mendacious as these people. The Constitution is not a spell book. It doesn't require magic words.

    2. You can kill anyone actively participating against you (self defense).

    No, You can kill anyone in the other army. Whether they are right now a threat to you is not relevant. If you are in the other army hanging out playing with kittens five hundred miles from the lines, I can send a cruise missile up your ass and it is just a bad day to be you.

    That is the whole point of being a lawful target. If you are a lawful target, you can be targeted. Self defense or threat has nothing to do with it. Indeed, this is why their obsession with how dangerous this guy is or is not is so nonsensical in this context.

    3. I don't see any exception to 5A (looked twice).

    So you think that the framers intended for the government to have to give invading armies due process? The 5th Amendment doesn't apply in warfare. If it did, the government would be effectively prohibited from waging war. Since the document specifically contemplates an Army a Navy and declaring war, that seems to be unlikely.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    1. This is my only real gripe with what you are saying. I'm not arguing the AUMF cannot be called a declaration of war (Although I do think the congressional shitbags should call it such). WHat I'm arguing is the AUMF verbiage doesn't give the executive permission to kill this guy. It SPECIFICALLY says:

    authority to use all "necessary and appropriate force" against those whom he determined "planned, authorized, committed or aided" the September 11th attacks, or who harbored said persons or groups.

    I doubt this guy had anything to do with 9/11 or harbored those who did. All those verbs are written in the past tense 9which is why I said words have meaning). The Executive doesn't have a declaration of war against ANYONE that wasn't directly involved in 9/11.

    2. I agree. If you can PROVE said individual is in said army you may kill them on sight. How do you know this to be the case in the instance where there is no conventional uniformed army?

    3. Not at all. The declaration of war (which we don't have) is authorization to kill (non-American citizens) without due process. I contend they cannot waive due process of a US citizen ever.

  • John||

    We are really not disagreeing here. The problem is that you seem to not understand the nature of warfare or how the Constitution applies to it. I agree with you that the government can't drone strike this guy.

  • Gene Poole||

    Since when does a country have to commit an act of war against the US for the US to bomb and/or invade it?

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Or Al-Qaeda...guess I'm safe.

  • Loki||

    Not anymore. You just corrected yourself and spelled it correctly, which means you're obviously one of them. Release the drones!

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Had to look it up and I've already forgotten again.

    Whew!

  • R C Dean||

    this guy is a US citizen, which adds yet another layer to it, as the pesky 5th Amendment comes into play.

    Not really. The Fifth refers to "persons", not just citizens, being entitled to due process. It applies regardless of citizenship status.

  • John||

    But it only applies within US soil RC. We don't owe Pakistanis living in Pakistan or Germans living in Germany due process. In contrast, the US government owes all US citizens, no matter where they are, due process.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    For what it is worth the 14th Amendment says that persons, not citizens, are due due process.

  • John||

    So what. That just means the government can't murder foreigners visiting the country. But that doesn't mean, wasn't intended to mean and has never been read to mean that such requirements apply to non US citizens outside of the US. If it did, the government would be effectively prohibited from waging war.

  • R C Dean||

    But it only applies within US soil RC.

    It applies to the US government. Wherever the US government asserts the authority to act, it must comply with the Constitution.

    Back in the day, our government only asserted the authority to act within its territorial jurisdiction. That no longer seems to be the case. The government cannot outgrow the Constitution; as the government's scope expands, so must the Constitutional protections.

    The only exception to territorial jurisdiction was actual war-fighting, in the Westphalian sense.

    The difficulty we have now arises from the abandonment of the old system of staying inside our own borders unless and until we are fighting a "real" war against a sovereign enemy.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Not really. The Fifth refers to "persons", not just citizens, being entitled to due process. It applies regardless of citizenship status.

    So you are claiming that anyone bombed in a war must have due process? If so, you could NEVER have a war.

    I don't see it that way. What a declaration of war is, IMO, is permission for the executive to kill the people who war is declared against, without due process (another way to think of this is that the declaration of war IS due process).

    I'm conflicted as to whether congress could waive due process (via declaration of war) for a US citizen. If you believe 5A applies to all people everywhere, I'd have to say they can. If it applies to US citizens I'd have to say they cannot.

  • John||

    I'm conflicted as to whether congress could waive due process (via declaration of war) for a US citizen.

    If the US citizen joins the war effort of the other side, he waived his own rights effectively by putting on the uniform.

    This only seems like a hard issue because the government keeps trying to apply it to people not wearing uniforms and who often are doing things that it is a stretch to consider "waging war". But in a context of a clear enemy and an American joining such enemy and fighting in a war, it is very easy.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    This only seems like a hard issue because the government keeps trying to apply it to people not wearing uniforms and who often are doing things that it is a stretch to consider "waging war".

    +10

    EXACTLY my point. The entire thing works very neatly when waging conventional war. It gets muddled when you aren't fighting nation states wearing uniforms, but it is still doable if you step through it.

    1. Get the proper declaration.
    2. Define who you can kill.
    3. You can't kill a US citizen without due process unless they are wearing a uniform or actively engaging in action.
    4. If you are killing someone in a country you haven't declared war with, you get their permission.

    Side note: The notion that we'd be fighting against a nation state wearing uniforms is absurd, but seems to be the basis of many of the "rules of war" particularly wrt the Geneva Conventions. Thus a large number of people (not you specifically) believe it's okay torture anyone not fighting in a uniform...

  • John||

    The notion that we'd be fighting against a nation state wearing uniforms is absurd,

    Why? We have done it throughout history. It is a terrible thing when fighters stop wearing uniforms and hide amongst the civilian population using them as human shields. People have been fighting partisan or guerrilla wars for the entire history of man. And every one of them ended up being a special breed of horrible even for war.

    It was in response to that reality that the first rule of war became "wear a uniform". For centuries anyone caught making mischief on a battlefield out of uniform was hanged on the spot. Then came the cold war and the "wars of national liberation". When that happened the communists and useful idiots in the West made not wearing a uniform okay. In fact, they made it a beneficial way to fight. If you were wearing a uniform, you got sent to a POW camp or killed. If you weren't, you got to play time out and hide in the population with no danger of being killed or if you were captured got a trial. Worse still, people who fought this way were held up as heroes rather than as the villains they were. Unsurprisingly, we got more of what we rewarded and people stopped wearing uniforms when they waged war giving us the problems we have today.

  • R C Dean||

    The notion that we'd be fighting against a nation state wearing uniforms is absurd,

    Don't see why the WOT couldn't be run on this model, honestly.

    WHy not tell, for example, Pakistan, Iran, or Syria the following (for the sake of argument):

    "You are harboring irregular forces engaged in acts of war against the US. Shut them down, or their attacks on the US will be attributed to you, and you will be in a state of war with the US. We may elect to fight a no-kidding war with you, the old-fashioned way, until we obtain unconditional surrender."

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    "You are harboring irregular forces engaged in acts of war against the US. Shut them down, or their attacks on the US will be attributed to you, and you will be in a state of war with the US. We may elect to fight a no-kidding war with you, the old-fashioned way, until we obtain unconditional surrender."

    That would probably work for certain countries, but not the shitholes. Somalia.... They wouldn't have the resources to clean them up.

    I'm of the opinion that you only ever go to war if it's an absolute last resort and then only if you are willing to wage total war (if not you will likely be run out by those who are) and the only time rebuilding a nation afterwards is worthwhile is after there has been complete capitulation.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    The first rule of warfare is to win.

    Both Clausewitz and Sun Tsu agree that the winner will be he who is willing to do whatever it takes to include using deception. If my country was invaded, I'd certainly fight without a uniform and resort to guerilla tactics. WOLVERINES!

    Many of the soldiers in our Revolutionary War did not wear uniforms.

  • John||

    Many of the soldiers in our Revolutionary War did not wear uniforms.

    But they fought in massed formations and didn't fight anything that could be described as a guerrilla war. The Revolutionary War was fought entirely in set piece battles between organized and disciplined armies.

    If my country was invaded, I'd certainly fight without a uniform and resort to guerilla tactics. WOLVERINES!

    Sure. I might do the same. But when the invaders catch us and hang us, they will be right to do so. And when we do decide to do that, we should understand that we are using our own people as human shields and are placing them in grave danger. If you are okay with the morality of that, have fun being a wolverine.

  • Gene Poole||

    One of my ancestors fought in the battle of New Orleans. He was essentially a guerrilla. He came off the farm to help defend the city and didn't have time to put on a uniform, even if there had been one for him to put on. Had the British won the battle and caught him, they'd no doubt have shot or hanged him. Does that make it right for them to have invaded the country in the first place?

  • BambiB||

    Couldn't you apply the same rule to the Obama administration?

  • iEagleHammer||

    "The DOJ is currently putting together its case so that President Barack Obama can decide whether to order his death."

    The KGB is currently putting together its case so that Premier Stalin can decide whether to order his death.

    Seriously, this is the U.S. ?

  • Spoonman.||

    Realistically, if you were an 18-year-old in some shithole in Yemen, and America blew up your best friend because he lived next door to some guy who talked a lot of shit about America, wouldn't you start to think that shit-talker had a point?

  • sarcasmic||

    Blowback is a myth!

  • John||

    That is just it. You don't break these people's will to fight by taking the fight to them. If you go and bomb them in their homes, they have no choice but to fight you. What you want to happen is for them to go somewhere else and fight and get killed there. That way people living in the areas where they are from see believing in this ideology as a ticket to a death sentence and choose not to follow it.

    To given an example of what I am talking about, how much more willing to fight the Vietnam war would the American public have been if North Vietnam had launched daily drone strikes on Los Angeles? As it was, they were just watching their sons go somewhere else never to return. That got old after a while.

    Same thing would happen here. You have to not just kill your opponent, you have to break his will to fight. And to do that, you have to give him an option of living in peace. Constantly bombing any area we think has Al Quada just ensures an endless supply of people to join them.

  • sarcasmic||

    On the other hand if you keep creating as many terrorists as you kill, then you will always have an excuse to spend expensive ordinance killing them. Then when you retire from the military you can get a job at one of the contractors that produces the expensive ordinance, and sell it to the people who replace you. And so on and so on it goes.

    You seem to think that the point is to eliminate the terrorist threat. It's not. The point is to get rich and powerful. At that this War on Terrah is a resounding success.

  • R C Dean||

    You have to not just kill your opponent, you have to break his will to fight. And to do that, you have to inflict a comprehensive military defeat and the overthrow of the existing power structure before we give him an option of living in peace.

    Unconditional surrender, FTW.

  • John||

    nflict a comprehensive military defeat and the overthrow of the existing power structure before we

    That is just not true. If it were true, we would have left Iraq in 2003. Unless you kill every single person on the other side, a comprehensive military defeat that doesn't break their will to fight just means they take up the fight by asymmetric means. Military defeats often lead to an end of hostilities. But they don't have to.

    You need less Jomini and more Clausewitz RC.

  • R C Dean||

    That is just not true. If it were true, we would have left Iraq in 2003.

    And if we had? Isn't this just the punitive expedition model we were mostly applauding around here recently?

    Unless you kill every single person on the other side, a comprehensive military defeat that doesn't break their will to fight just means they take up the fight by asymmetric means.

    Oh, bullshit. Not every German or Japanese was dead at the end of WWII, but their will to fight was broken, and there was no continuation of the war by other means.

    Contrast with WWI, where there was no comprehensive military defeat, no unconditional surrender, and after just enough time to breed a new army, we were back at it again.

  • John||

    And if we had? Isn't this just the punitive expedition model we were mostly applauding around here recently?

    Sure. And there is no guarantee that that would break their will to fight. It is a nice idea but it isn't necessarily true. We launched all kinds of punitive expeditions against the Indians and they never fighting us until we either killed them or locked them up on reservations. Sometimes your enemy doesn't want to quit. Armies fighting partisan wars for centuries have learned the limits of punitive expeditions.

  • John||

    Oh, bullshit. Not every German or Japanese was dead at the end of WWII, but their will to fight was broken, and there was no continuation of the war by other means.

    Yes, sometimes comprehensive military defeats result in the enemies will to fight being destroyed. I never denied that. But that doesn't mean that is the case every time. Come on RC, did they not teach logic at Harvard?

    Contrast with WWI, where there was no comprehensive military defeat,

    There was total military defeat in World War I. The German Army mutinied and completely collapsed forcing a surrender. Allied Armies occupied large sections of Germany. Germany had no army and no ability to resist the allies in November 1914 and their government completely collapsed and was replaced by a new one.

    Germany after World War I proves my point. The Germans suffered a comprehensive defeat but didn't lose their will to fight or regained it pretty quickly and there was another war.

    Another example of this is France after the Franco Prussian War. They suffered as complete of a military defeat as a nation can suffer. But that didn't break their will to fight and continue the conflict in 1914.

  • BambiB||

    On Los Angeles? Hmmm. Could go either way. If they'd been launching daily strikes on NYC, why I DEFINITELY would have been the first in line to not fight them.

    It's where Osama bin Laden screwed up. He attacked a target we didn't really care that much about in the first place.

  • Rich||

    It's a pilot an unmanned test for taking out Snowden.

  • Loki||

    I was going to snarkily imply that the target of this strike is actually Snowden himself.

  • Pulseguy||

    Why would they not make such an executive decision about Snowden? With a complicit press they are beyond the reach of anyone...they think.

    I think if they killed Snowden there might be some sort of 60s type revolution. I think O might be impeached over that.

  • Pulseguy||

    What potential fallout? Will the press make a big deal about it? I doubt it? Will it hurt the Dems chances of election this year? I doubt that, too. Will the country in question - Eritrea, or something like that, take us off their preferred nation list?

    He'll get killed. Or, at least they will claim they killed him. And, since he isn't being named anyway they can claim anything they like.

  • IamNotEvil||

    White House officials announced that during a drone training exercise a live missile was fired. DoD is investigating why the drone was armed and there is no information on the area of impact or any causalities.

    See Obama, it's not hard. At this rate he'll never make evil overlord.

  • Pulseguy||

    The more I think about it, the more I think it is Snowden they are talking about.

    1. Why would they float this trial balloon? They have struck first before and not bothered to mention it to anyone up front.

    2. The military doubts this guy is a legitimate target. Why would they doubt that if he was really AQ? But, if it is Snowden, the military might be objecting.

    I think there is a reasonable chance that they want to kill Snowden and they want to see how people will react before they do it.

  • BambiB||

    What's the country? Russia? China? France?

  • ||

    Apparently that 'true faith and allegiance' the is too complicated for the Pentagon.

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