Killing Americans on Secret Presidential Order is Not OK in a Democracy
Law Professor David Cole in the New York Times Review of Books writes about the secret memo of authorizing the extra-judicial, targeted killing of American citizens, Anwar al-Awlaki and drone attacks. Shorter version: We need established defined rules and transparency.
In a democracy the state’s power to take the lives of its own citizens, and indeed of any human being, must be subject to democratic deliberation and debate. War of course necessarily involves killing, but it is essential that the state’s power to kill be clearly defined and stated in public—particularly when the definition of the enemy and the lines demarcating war and peace are as murky as they are in the current conflict.
Secret memos, with or without leaked accounts to The New York Times, are no substitute for legal or democratic process. As long as the Obama administration insists on the power to kill the people it was elected to represent—and to do so in secret, on the basis of secret legal memos—can we really claim that we live in a democracy ruled by law?
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