Is the president empowered to target persons in the United States? No

In a piece in Mother Jones, Adam Serwer argues:

[W]hy didn't Obama just say, "no, the president cannot deploy drone strikes against US citizens on American soil"? Because the answer is probably "yes." That may not be as apocalyptically sinister as it sounds.

I disagree that the answer is yes and I disagree that it does not sound apocalyptically sinister. Serwer relies on law professor Steven Vladeck:

"Certainly, we routinely 'targeted' U.S. citizens during the Civil War," says Steve Vladeck, a law professor at American University's Washington College of Law. "Even if the targeting was with imprecise 19th-century artillery as opposed to 21st-century [unmanned arial vehicles]." If he had the technology, President Abraham Lincoln would most likely have been within his authority to send a drone to vaporize Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

The inaptness of this comparison seems obvious does it not? Lincoln faced an insurrection on United States soil. President Obama does not. Is there something more to the argument? Serwer writes:

Congress has long held that the president has the authority to use the military domestically in some circumstances. The Posse Comitatus Act, passed after Reconstruction to limit the use of military force on US soil, states that the military can be used to enforce the law "in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress." The last time this happened was 1992 when, citing the Insurrection Act, President George H.W. Bush called out the National Guard to suppress the Los Angeles riots in the aftermath of the Rodney King verdict.

The Posse Comitatus Act, textually states:

Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.

Is there something in the Constitution that expressly authorizes the President to target person in the United States? No. In fact, there is an express prohibition, the Due Process Clause:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." [Emphasis supplied.]

Serwer writes:

The question is whether the Authorization for Use of Military Force, which Congress passed in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, counts as "express authorization" to carry out a targeted killing on US soil.

Well, let's read the empowering provisions:

Section 2 - Authorization For Use of United States Armed Forces (a) IN GENERAL- 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.

The argument that Serwer appears to adopt is that this empower the president to "use all necessary and appropriate force against those [...] organizations or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001 [...]in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States" including such persons and organizations located in the United States.

The problem is the 2001 AUMF does not include the language "in the United Sates." To wit, the Posse Comitatus Act's requirement of "express authorization" is not met. There is no express authorization for military targetting in the United States.

The 2001 AUMF is an abomination. It needs to be repealed. But it does not do what Serwer argues it does.

The Obama Administration can and should confidently state that it is not empowered to target persons in the United States. Because it is not.

Oh by the way, absent insurrection or rebellion, I do not believe the Congress is authorized by the Constitution ("To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions") to empower the president to target persons in the United States.

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    Interesting article on the scope of (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by MO Blue on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 10:14:37 AM EST
    presidential powers G.W. Bush's legal eagles came up with to provide "legal justification" for the military to combat terrorist activities inside the United States.

    "The law has recognized that force (including deadly force) may be legitimately used in self-defense," Mr. Yoo and Mr. Delahunty wrote to Mr. Gonzales. Therefore any objections based on the Fourth Amendment's ban on unreasonable searches are swept away, they said, since any possible privacy offense resulting from such a search is a lesser matter than any injury from deadly force.
    Mr. Yoo and Mr. Delahunty said that in addition, the Posse Comitatus Act, which generally bars the military from domestic law enforcement operations, would pose no obstacle to the use of troops in a domestic fight against terrorism suspects. They reasoned that the troops would be acting in a national security function, not as law enforcers. link

    Less than a week before President George W. Bush left office, the Justice Department withdrew the series of memos that contained these opinions argueing that these theories should no longer "be treated as authoritative for any purpose.".

    The question is whether the Obama administration has envisioned similar authority for itself. The answer to that question lies in the classified documents explaining the Obama administration's legal rationale for the targeted killing program--documents that the Obama administration has so far refused to fully disclose to Congress, let alone release to the public. link

    Personally, I would like a definite "Yes" or "No" answer from the President on this subject.


    I think the best you're likely to get is (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Anne on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 10:24:38 AM EST
    a "No" that carries with it an underlying subliminal (or not-so-subliminal) message of "...unless we really, really feel like we have to to do it to 'keep the nation safe,' and then we will have our collection of legal yes-men write up the appropriate permission, so - not to worry - it'll all be legal and good."

    Sad to note that this is where my level of cynicism and doubt is these days, isn't it?


    Guess I am even more cynical (5.00 / 3) (#4)
    by MO Blue on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 10:38:58 AM EST
    I don't think we will get a yes or no answer. Just more of the same evasive answers that we have received before.

    IMO with the help of the AUMF have adopted the Nixon rule of law.


    I've been waiting for an opportunity to post (5.00 / 4) (#3)
    by DFLer on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 10:33:33 AM EST
    some relevant material about the domestic use of drones. I think there are additional issues here, besides the illegality of using drones to target persons in the US for killing. According to the ACLU and also Jim Hightower, we are fast approaching a crisis in the droning of America, whether armed or not.

    In Dec 2011, the ACLU released its report: "Protecting Privacy From Aerial Surveillance: Recommendations for Government Use of Drone Aircraft"

    Here's a summary release by one of its authors, Jay Stanely
    New Eyes in the Sky: Protecting Privacy from Domestic Drone Surveillance

    Unmanned Aerial Vehicles - UAV's or "drones" as they are called - are on the way. Just this week the Los Angeles Times reported that Customs and Border Patrol agency has been lending their Predator drones to law enforcement agencies for domestic operations. And their use is only going to spread.
    The question is, will drones become pervasive spying tools that change the nature of American life? Will we be able to walk out of our front door without wondering at all times whether some eye in the sky might be watching every move we make?
    Today we're releasing a report on drones, "Protecting Privacy From Aerial Surveillance: Recommendations for Government Use of Drone Aircraft." In the report, we discuss the current drone landscape (technology and use), talk about the privacy issues, and conclude with recommendations for protections we believe must be put in place to ensure they don't destroy our privacy.

    As usual, Jim Tower has a great report on all this in his Lowdown: The drone-industrial complex wants 30,000 eyes in the sky spying on us Americans by 2020

    As we say at the poker table, read 'em and weep.

    They just tried to do this in Seattle (5.00 / 2) (#13)
    by shoephone on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 12:27:21 PM EST
    and, lo and behold, the angry citizens packed city hall, and pretty much every single person who spoke at public comment session told the mayor, the city council and SPD to go f*ck themselves. Mayor McGinn then announced that the city would NOT be using the drones (this fool is running for re-election in November). So, a victory for the citizens. However, there is more trouble brewing: Seattle got $5 million in DHS grant money and went ahead and installed surveillance cameras all over the waterfronts at Alki Beach and Golden Gardens beach. The public is waaayyyy up in arms over this, but McGinn only says the city "won't turn the cameras 'on' until the citizens have had a chance to participate in the public comment period." I can tell you right now, this kind of blanket surveillance of Seattle citizens enjoying the waterfront is NOT going to go down well. And, hopefully, it will be the nail in the coffin of McGinn's re-election.

    I don't want to hijack the thread with any of this, because it's not the drone issue BTD's posted about, but since you brought it up...maybe we can discuss on an open thread soon.


    Okay (none / 0) (#16)
    by DFLer on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 01:32:36 PM EST
    Professor Vladeck seems off base, (5.00 / 4) (#5)
    by KeysDan on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 10:41:48 AM EST
    but not as much as Attorney General Holder. At a Northwestern University Law School speech (March 2012) Holder  "clarified" the part of the Constitution (..be deprived of life, liberty...without due process of law) by saying that "due process and judicial process are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security."

     Executive Branch reviews of targeted killings count as "due process".    Holder claims the due process clause does not impose one-size fits all requirements  but mandates procedural safeguards under specific situations.   So, it is all flexible subject to making it up and make-believe.

    It's been a long time since high school, but (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by me only on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 10:45:38 AM EST
    I think a targeted killing program would amount to a "bill of attainder."  That is specifically prohibited in the Constitution.

    I faintly recall Lincoln telling the military during the Civil War to not consider assassinating Confederates.

    Thank you for this (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by sj on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 11:06:19 AM EST
    It occurs to me, however, that simple protests are increasingly being responded to as if they were "insurrection or rebellion."

    I hate, hate my own cynicism.  It's is not in accord with my natural personality.  Really.

    Which makes this little tidbit (5.00 / 7) (#8)
    by Anne on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 11:14:28 AM EST
    even more disturbing:

    White House Tasks Itself With Controlling Speech On The Internet

    From the White House:

    The American public increasingly relies on the Internet for socializing, business transactions, gathering information, entertainment, and creating and sharing content. The rapid growth of the Internet has brought opportunities but also risks, and the Federal Government is committed to empowering members of the public to protect themselves against the full range of online threats, including online radicalization to violence.

    Violent extremist groups ─ like al-Qa'ida and its affiliates and adherents, violent supremacist groups, and violent "sovereign citizens" ─ are leveraging online tools and resources to propagate messages of violence and division. These groups use the Internet to disseminate propaganda, identify and groom potential recruits, and supplement their real-world recruitment efforts.  Some members and supporters of these groups visit mainstream fora to see whether individuals might be recruited or encouraged to commit acts of violence, look for opportunities to draw targets into private exchanges, and exploit popular media like music videos and online video games.  Although the Internet offers countless opportunities for Americans to connect, it has also provided violent extremists with access to new audiences and instruments for radicalization.

    Now, I can't be the only one who reads this - and the rest of the WH post - and thinks this is less about the al Qaeda-type radicalization and more about cutting the Occupy-type movement off at the knees, can I?

    Oh, what a cynical day I'm having...


    Every (5.00 / 4) (#9)
    by lentinel on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 11:28:19 AM EST
    time they invade our privacy, or clamp down on our civil liberties, it is to protect us or to protect children.

    And then they go right ahead with policies that endanger us and put our children and the children of other countries in imminent peril.


    Benjamin Franklin: (5.00 / 3) (#17)
    by Zorba on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 01:42:57 PM EST
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

    I (5.00 / 4) (#19)
    by lentinel on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 01:51:55 PM EST
    always thought that it was impressive that Franklin said not that we would get neither, but that we would "deserve" neither.

    Yes, (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by Zorba on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 02:57:13 PM EST
    I agree.  Smart man.
    I have also always thought that this country was extremely lucky to have such an extraordinary collection of Founding Fathers.  I often wonder what they would have thought about some of the things that are going on today.

    Have you noticed (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by sj on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 11:37:01 AM EST
    that whenever the government is instituting something Constitutionally questionable that the Al-Qaeda! flag is frantically waved?  Haven't there always been militant leadership of one sort or another?  This strikes me as valid:
    Marc Sageman, a psychiatrist and former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer, said that al-Qaeda is now just a "loose label for a movement that seems to target the West". "There is no umbrella organisation. We like to create a mythical entity called [al-Qaeda] in our minds, but that is not the reality we are dealing with."

    And yes, I agree that it's about keeping domestic movements impotent.

    Unfortunately the answer is YES! (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 12:20:27 PM EST

    He certainly has the power to do so.  I can't imagine the CIA or military refusing to carry out such an order.  Whether that is legal or not is another issue.

    Seizing the power (none / 0) (#12)
    by sj on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 12:23:19 PM EST
    is not the same thing as being empowered.  

    How have you gotten through life?


    If no one who could stop him... (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by unitron on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 04:49:31 PM EST
    ...would stop him, then the power doesn't have to be seized, he already has it and just hasn't used it yet.

    So he's going to arm and fly his (none / 0) (#26)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 04:54:28 PM EST
    Own drones to attack his own people?  Because that is essentially the boat he would have to be in.  We have CIA agents doing time for whistle blowing torturers.  Do you really think the President is going to find a large swathe of people who will just line up to kill other Americans for him whenever he snaps his fingers?

    I think you are answering your own question (5.00 / 1) (#68)
    by MsAnnaNOLA on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 04:10:29 PM EST
    So he is persecuting people for revealing law breaking via torture. So these people in the CIA are going to do what to prevent him from killing Americans with drones? Leak to the press. Go to the head of CIA who has probably authorized all of this killing of Americans to begin with.

    The reason they are persecuting the whistle blowers is so they can get away with the unthinkable.

    Read Sibel Edmunds book. It is chilling how they persecuted her at every turn for doing the job she was sworn and hired to do. They did not want to know about law breaking or spying that would jeopardize the security of our country. Check out her blog, some explosive stuff there.  

    If the govt always shoots the messenger who is going to want to be the messenger when they have asserted the right to kill you for being the messenger.


    What should stop him (none / 0) (#29)
    by sj on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 06:02:01 PM EST
    are Constitutional limits and ethics.  Not an overseer.  Well, unless that's how you want to describe the co-equal branches of government.  If there were a "someone" who could stop him more readily than the citizens of the nation it would be that being who had the power and not the President.  And such a being is not mentioned in the Constitution.

    Constitutional limits (3.00 / 2) (#54)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 08:51:17 AM EST

    You must be joking.  What part of "he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed" lets the Prez ignore enforcement the laws regarding illegal alien minors?

    Or for that matter, where is the prosecution of Peter Gleick for identity theft and wire fraud?  

    You may also note than neither mega-bundler John Corzine or any of his minions have faced the law after the theft of many millions.


    Uhhhmmmm, ... lack of evidence? (none / 0) (#58)
    by Yman on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 09:59:51 AM EST
    Or for that matter, where is the prosecution of Peter Gleick for identity theft and wire fraud?

    Lack of an actual crime?  Inability to establish the elements of a "crime" beyond a reasonable doubt?

    There are many reasons why prosecutors don't prosecute people accused of crimes.  The fact that some winger organization embarrassed by Gleik accuses him of committing a crime does not make it a crime, nor does it make it prosecutable.


    BTW - Could be the same reason(s) ... (5.00 / 1) (#61)
    by Yman on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 10:27:17 AM EST
    ... that James Taylor (a Senior Fellow at the Heartland Institute) wasn't prosecuted when he used a false identity to try to get a Greenpeace activist to send him UN climate conference documents.

    Ohhhhh, ... the hypocrisy ....


    What should stop him... (none / 0) (#55)
    by unitron on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 09:35:17 AM EST
    ...is one thing, but if, and note that I'm speaking hypothetically, if Constitutional limits and ethics were not enough to stop him, in other words if he were Nixon, then what would stop him would be a refusal to carry out those orders by those who would actually have to do it for it to get done.

    So if those who could obey illegal orders are not willing to say "no", and are willing to carry out those orders, then, regardless of whether he uses the power or not, he does have it, even if he doesn't have it on paper.


    The problem with your hypothetical situation (5.00 / 1) (#59)
    by MO Blue on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 10:01:03 AM EST
    is people will not be told that they would be obeying illegal orders. They would be told that it has been determined that the action was legal because it was necessary for the defense of the country. As in the Iraq war, non believers can be fired and replaced with people who will sell the legality and ensure that the orders are carried out. People who oppose the action will be accused of not wanting to "protect the nation" from terrorist bound to destroy them.

    'Hubris: Selling The Iraq War' Details Lies Spun To Justify It' shows just how bad the so called intelligence was, the decent at high levels of the military and how it was never the less sold to the public.


    And, you will recall (5.00 / 3) (#60)
    by NYShooter on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 10:20:05 AM EST
    As many Constitutional lawyers were advising Obama in the media that the issue of investigating the Bush Administration for the well-documented allegations of illegally embroiling America in a War of choice was a Constitutional obligation, a duty, not a personal "choice," he flicked it off with the pithy response, "we're looking forward, not backward."

    So much for legal orders, and Constitution duties.


    That's why I don't get the argument (5.00 / 1) (#63)
    by Anne on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 11:09:42 AM EST
    that Tracy keeps making, that there are all these lawyers involved and looking at it; I think she may be trying to show that the president hasn't made these decisions all by himself, but hasn't the recent example of the Bush OLC and John Yoo and his pals taught us anything?  

    In the end, it's his policy, and he's surrounded himself with people who provide the support for it.

    Those giving the orders are doing so because someone determined that the actions were legal; that doesn't mean that someone to whom an order is given is not obligated to refuse if he or she believes the actions are, in fact, illegal.

    I just don't know if there are many who will have the courage to stand up, and if they do, whether it will matter given how many others there are who won't object.


    What could be more acceptable than going (none / 0) (#66)
    by MO Blue on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 01:00:00 PM EST
    Ivy League.

    Yale Helps DoD Train Soldiers By Interrogating Non-Whites

    Charles Morgan III, a professor of psychiatry to help combine interrogation and racial profiling into an Ivy League program.

    Morgan's research and, by extension, this proposed center target people of color -- brown people exclusively. According to a Yale Herald article, Morgan listed "Moroccans, Columbians, Nepalese, Ecuadorians and others." Is there an assumption in Morgan's desire to use more `authentic,' brown interviewees as test subjects,

    As you note (none / 0) (#15)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 01:24:56 PM EST

    The man empowered himself.

    really (none / 0) (#20)
    by sj on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 02:10:52 PM EST
    how did you get through life?

    Silence is not "no". (5.00 / 3) (#18)
    by lentinel on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 01:49:24 PM EST
    The impression I get from the Obama administration is that it will do what it wants to whomever it wants wherever it wants. Then, things can be investigated down the road if anyone is interested.

    I had the same impression with the Bush administration.

    While it is true that,

    "Lincoln faced an insurrection on United States soil. President Obama does not."

    It is my opinion that these days an "insurrection" is in the eye of the beholder. And if the beholder is the Obama administration and the Congress as presently constituted, anything goes - as it went for his unsavory predecessor.

    It has no reason to drone strike (none / 0) (#23)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 04:42:52 PM EST
    Anyone on soil that has a system of due process.  And to do such a thing would be counter productive.  We wouldn't drone strike a terrorist in France or Germany either because there is an existing framework of law enforcement that is empowered to deal with such danger and that we would easily work with and negotiate with.  They are in fact in the same boat we are where extremist terrorists are concerned, and we already work together to protect our nations and our people from those elements.

    That explanation seems a stunning example (5.00 / 3) (#27)
    by shoephone on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 05:05:02 PM EST
    of selective justice.

    Your own brand of justice (none / 0) (#28)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 05:25:02 PM EST
    Is YOUR selection as well and is selective justice.  As if existing justice is equal for all and our President willfully kills innocents just to get off or something.

    Oy (5.00 / 2) (#31)
    by sj on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 06:07:44 PM EST
    As if existing justice is equal for all and our President willfully kills innocents just to get off or something.

    Who knows if they're innocents or not when they are authorized to be killed without due process?  If there is strong evidence, it should be enough to ensure a conviction in a court of law.

    Conviction in a court of law (none / 0) (#32)
    by vicndabx on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 06:16:55 PM EST
    don't the parties have to be present for a trial?  Would in absentia be sufficient?  I doubt it.

    They aren't subject to your courts (none / 0) (#35)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 06:24:02 PM EST
    American Exceptionalism again, that the world runs on your rules.  Yemen did find Awlaki guilty though, and they have a right to their own court system right....or are you into dictating to them what their justice system should be?

    Yes, I would think so (none / 0) (#51)
    by sj on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 10:01:48 PM EST
    There are lots of known criminals for whom there is insufficient evidence for a conviction.  And many for whom the evidence is staggering but the location of the perpetrator is unknown.  How is that new?

    Good enough for Spain to find CIA officers Guilty (none / 0) (#69)
    by MsAnnaNOLA on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 04:18:13 PM EST
    In absentia. Yes. This sounds like a good avenue to pursue with regard to this arbitrary killing from afar.

    Prove it in a court. Then go find them or give them a chance to turn themselves in and defend themselves.

    Seems like targeted killings is a good way to get rid of former CIA assets you no longer have any use for because they might air your dirty laundry when you bring them to an open court. They might just say how they worked closely with the CIA and did its bidding. That would look very bad for USA and CIA.


    Yemen had found Awlaki guilty (none / 0) (#33)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 06:22:20 PM EST
    Pakistan works with us in our drone program.  

    To insist that your brand of justice is some form of superior global justice and everyone I guess from Yemen and Pakistan on down is in violation is just another form of your own American Exceptionalism.  To insist that your President not protect your own nation because you believe that if he did something different, that none of you have been able to exactly specify, world peace and the security of the nation would immediately ensue.....is just another form of grandiose American Exceptionalism too.  As if every little thing you do dictates whether someone is homicidal, or becomes a terrorist or a heinous human butcher.  You are not God, neither is your nation.

    If only it were true, how simple life would be.

    Fact, the President's first order of business from dawn to dusk is the protection of his/her people, his/her nation.


    Wrong, so wrong. (5.00 / 6) (#38)
    by dk on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 06:41:53 PM EST
    Fact, the President's first order of business from dawn to dusk (and even at night) is to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

    And that doesn't include (none / 0) (#40)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 06:56:16 PM EST
    the safety and securing of the nation? Because see, the oath that my husband takes says he defends the Constitution from all enemies both foreign and domestic.  A terrorist is exactly that.

    And how does your husband feel (5.00 / 4) (#43)
    by shoephone on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 07:01:39 PM EST
    about innocents being killed by our extra-judicial drones? Is it something akin to, "Yes, it's sad, but they're collateral damage." Is it all justifiable if we say are forever at war?

    I ask again...what is your definition of a war crime?


    Does U.S. law override international law? (5.00 / 3) (#39)
    by shoephone on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 06:54:49 PM EST
    I guess you're one of those who thinks the Geneva Convention has become "quaint." But the UN doesn't agree with you about the U.S. having the right to extra-judicial powers:

    Christof Heyns, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, summary or arbitrary executions, told a conference in Geneva that President Obama's attacks in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere, carried out by the CIA, would encourage other states to flout long-established human rights standards.

    In his strongest critique so far of drone strikes, Heyns suggested some may even constitute "war crimes". His comments come amid rising international unease over the surge in killings by remotely piloted unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

    And your justification that we have a relationship based on working with Pakistan on drone strikes isn't accepted quite so easily by everyone in the Pakistani government:

    Also present was Pakistan's ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Zamir Akram, who called for international legal action to halt the "totally counterproductive attacks" by the US in his country.

    International law (none / 0) (#42)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 06:59:44 PM EST
    Is not observed by all nations, and it isn't even enforceable by the nations that terrorist networks hide in.  I'm not certain that our drone program violates International Law either as a whole.  Mostly because I know how many lawyers are involved in all of this simply on the military's side of this, not even including any of the other lawyers employed in arguing and writing the legalese that dictates what we can and cannot legally do.  Of course you have managed to find something that you feel applies.

    When it comes to what's legal in international law (5.00 / 4) (#45)
    by shoephone on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 07:04:44 PM EST
    I think I'm going to give more credence to the views of Christof Heyns, a lawyer and the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, summary or arbitrary executions, than I will to you.

    I don;t claim to be an expert on international law, so I look to those who are. And you are no expert either. You are just someone who is amarried to a military officer.


    I obviously know a little more (2.00 / 2) (#48)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 07:58:08 PM EST
    about the legalities of our drone use than you do.  And why is that?  Because I actually care about the safety of my nation as well as its ethics and the dilemmas that it faces.  Dealing with terrorist threats is a dilemma too and just chanting about how much Obama sucks does nothing to address any of it.  But hey, you are cool, much cooler than the President is with none of his responsibilities.

    I care to know what all the arguments are though and realities, and more than one attorney is heard from in all areas of this administrations decisions.  But hey, find one who says what you want them to say and cling to that and chant it over and over and over again.

    Who really cares what anybody says here anymore though.  It is nothing more than an echo chamber of Obama's suckiness whatever day of the week it is.


    You "obviously" know more about the (5.00 / 7) (#49)
    by Anne on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 08:14:39 PM EST
    legalities because you "actually" care?  Meaning what?  That our care is fake somehow?  That we haven't followed the arguments, that we haven't explored the information?

    Jesus, that is some pretentious BS you're shoveling.

    Your only legal argument seems to be "more than one attorney is heard from in all areas of this administrations decisions."  Wow, how are we not just blinded by the legal brilliance in that statement?

    And you must be talking to yourself when you say, "find one who says what you want them to say and cling to that and chant it over and over and over again" because you've convinced yourself that Obama's legal advisors are somehow different from Bush's, because why?  

    Tracy, your arguments are turning into schoolyard chants; it's kind of embarrassing, really.  If that's the best you can do, impugning the opinions of others with puerile insults, maybe you really do need to take a break.


    Tracy, the day you become as expert (5.00 / 4) (#50)
    by shoephone on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 08:30:43 PM EST
    as the UN's Cristof Heyns, that's the day I will give your opinions on the drones more weight. Until then, your comments are nothing more than a bunch of jingoistic screeds.

    But you just said you only subscribe to (5.00 / 4) (#41)
    by shoephone on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 06:58:43 PM EST
    U.S. justice--of the extra-judicial sort--and that of countries in Europe that have judicial systems comparative to ours, ie., if a country doesn't have a similar judicial system, then they are ripe targets for whatever we feel is necessary? What constitutes a war crime, anyway?

    If only everything were this simple (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 07:03:43 PM EST
    Why don't you run for President and do the job.  You have it all figured out.  I don't know why Obama has to make things so complicated, well except that he gets off on that of course.

    It is tiresome reading here anymore.  This used to be an interesting place, one that was intellectually stimulating and reached beyond Obama Sucks, Obama Sucks, Obama Sucks, Obama Sucks.  Not anymore though.  It's just 24 hour knee jerk Obama sucks bullhonk.


    You've gone off your rocker (5.00 / 5) (#46)
    by shoephone on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 07:06:40 PM EST
    and your previous comment leads me to believe you are right to take a break from this blog.

    That you still think this is about Obama Sucks (5.00 / 7) (#47)
    by Anne on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 07:32:52 PM EST
    tells me that you really don't understand why people are taking issue with the extra-judicial way in which our government is dealing with alleged threats.  You still think this is about Obama, when, in fact, it is about the policy.

    And I don't understand why you take so much comfort in the presence of so many lawyers; can you really have forgotten how Bush's OLC rubber-stamped what he wanted to do?  Or, were you okay with that, too?

    Or are you one of those who weren't okay with Bush's actions, but you just feel so much more comfortable with Obama at the wheel doing the same and worse?

    I'm really sorry you find us all so tiresome; funny, but I've been finding your constant excuses and strawmen and the ever-so-juvenile why-don't-you-run-for-president challenges to be beyond tiresome.  They are not worthy of rational argument.

    No one's stopping you from supporting this president; I just hope that when he's no longer in charge and some insane Republican is, that you won't regret ceding so much ground and so many rights just because the people selling them were Democrats.

    Because we're never getting them back.


    I don't know why Obama has to make (5.00 / 3) (#53)
    by MO Blue on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 06:44:06 AM EST
    this so complicated either.

    If Obama believes that the president cannot deploy drone strikes against US citizens on American soil, he could have just answered with a simple "No" and we would not be having this conversation at all. Yet, both Obama and Brennan refused to give a simple "No" answer.

    I, as well as others, do question why "Why didn't Obama just say, "no, the president cannot deploy drone strikes against US citizens on American soil"? and will let you personalize his actions.


    I think it's more a case of... (5.00 / 1) (#56)
    by unitron on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 09:43:32 AM EST
    ...Obama disappoints.

    As in, we know all too well that we could do a whole lot worse (as proven between Jan, 2001, and Jan, 2009), but were hoping for something even better than what we got, and had been led to believe we would be getting.


    Obama (5.00 / 3) (#76)
    by lentinel on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 07:08:53 PM EST
    didn't make it complicated.

    He made it quite simple.

    He doesn't have to deal with tiresome things like due process - or even interrogation.

    He can just have suspects, including American citizens, killed.

    That's as simple as it gets.


    The (5.00 / 3) (#71)
    by lentinel on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 04:46:13 PM EST
    way I see it is that an American citizen is entitled to due process as a right of citizenship.

    It has nothing to do with the soil on which they find themselves at a given time.


    may I suggest a slight alteration? (5.00 / 1) (#73)
    by NYShooter on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 06:39:10 PM EST
    "The way I see it is that any human being is entitled to due process as a right, as guaranteed by the fifth (and fourteenth( amendment of the U. S. Constitution.

    "No person,......... nor shall any person,.......without due process of law"


    I'm (none / 0) (#75)
    by lentinel on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 07:04:37 PM EST
    all for extending those protections to all people everywhere.

    But am I mistaken in thinking the Constitution is referring to rights belonging to American citizens?

    MT seemed to me to be saying that those rights do not hold if the citizen is in some other country that does not respect due process - and therefore the US government is not bound to respect those rights - and may in fact order them killed without any regard for the right of due process.

    That, to me, is hooey.


    The Constitution (5.00 / 2) (#77)
    by sj on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 09:54:43 PM EST
    applies to all "persons" not just citizens according to the ACLU.  I love the ACLU.
    Among the most important sources of legal protection against governmental discrimination or abuse are the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution.  They provide that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law and that no person shall be deprived of the equal protection of the laws.   Thus, the right to due process, equal protection and the other fundamental rights that are encompassed by these principles apply to all persons in the United States, including non-citizens.

    The Supreme Court has held that state or local laws that discriminate on the basis of "alienage" - like those that discriminate against non-citizens on the basis of race, national origin or gender - are subject to "strict scrutiny" under the equal protection guarantee.  The Supreme Court, therefore, has struck down state laws that discriminate against legal resident aliens in the provision of benefits (welfare, scholarships, tuition grants, student loans) and in eligibility for jobs (civil service positions, lawyer, notary publics).  In declaring these state prohibitions unconstitutional, the Court stressed that immigrants "have contribute on an equal basis with residents of the State."

    However, the Court has permitted states to discriminate against resident aliens in certain respects, such as voting, elected office, policy-making positions in government, and certain jobs such as police officer or school teacher, under a "political function" exception.  More significantly, the Supreme Court has held that the federal government, because of its exclusive responsibility for supervising immigration, has broad powers to discriminate on the basis of alienage, including in federal benefits programs

    Wiki.answers.com has this blurb but no discussion behind it.

    In actuality, the Constitution doesn't apply to "citizens," nor does it even apply to "people." It applies to the government. It tells the government what it can and can't do (the body tells the government what it can do, and the Bill of Rights tells it what it can't do).

    Thanks (none / 0) (#80)
    by lentinel on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 06:05:43 AM EST

    Nope. (5.00 / 3) (#78)
    by NYShooter on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 09:59:24 PM EST
    those rights extend to "Persons," no "citizen" requirement.

    or, (5.00 / 2) (#79)
    by NYShooter on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 10:01:03 PM EST
    you can read what sj just wrote.



    I read (5.00 / 1) (#81)
    by lentinel on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 06:27:56 AM EST
    what sj wrote, and am impressed and moved.

    On the subject of the use of targeted killing of US citizens on US or any other soil: Judging from what I read from the ACLU, the president is forbidden from denying due process to any person who is in this country.

    But it seems, from Obama's answer, that he is being non-committal to as to whether he is bound by the due process clause.

    I can see that the Constitution protects all persons in the US.
    But how can it protect citizens of other countries while they are in other countries if it not on the basis of American citizenship?

    MT's point seemed to me to be that a US citizen loses the right to due process when they are in a country that denies due process. My assumption was that they are entitled to due process from the American government based on their citizenship of the US - and therefore not subject to the arbitrary killing being practiced by the administration.

    Does the constitution prohibit the denial of due process by the government to everyone, everywhere?

    If so, awesome.


    It seems to me... (none / 0) (#82)
    by sj on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 09:07:40 AM EST
    I can see that the Constitution protects all persons in the US.
    But how can it protect citizens of other countries while they are in other countries if it not on the basis of American citizenship?

    ...that the Constitution governs the actions of the US government, period.  If a citizen is in a country that denies due process, they are subject to the laws of that country, that's pretty clear.  That's why the US government has sometimes intervened in individual cases, right?  

    I'm no Constitutional scholar, but I was taught that the Constitution is the center and the core of the US government.  So based on that, I have always believed this to be true:

    Does the constitution prohibit the denial of due process by the [US] government to everyone, everywhere?

    It doesn't appear that the current leadership, of either party, agrees with me.

    Holder said at Northwestern University (5.00 / 3) (#83)
    by MO Blue on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 10:12:26 AM EST
    Law School speech (March 2012) that "due process and judicial process are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security." This statement seems to indicate that the administration believes that its current executive branch determination of quilt is all the "due process" needed for them to "sentence" an American citizen or any other person to death.

    Bush's lawyers have already put forth the opinion that the Posse Comitatus Act does not apply as long as the executive branch declares that the military is acting in a national security function, not as law enforcers.link

    So while I firmly believe that the Constitution and International law prohibits their actions, they believe that they can create loopholes to get around any and all safeguards. Doesn't seem like there is any sufficient effort (Congress, Judicial or citizen outrage) to prevent this and future presidents from doing whatever they want in the name of national security.


    Puzzled. (none / 0) (#84)
    by lentinel on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 10:52:07 AM EST
    If a citizen is in a country that denies due process, they are subject to the laws of that country, that's pretty clear.

    But, here we are talking about the actions of the US government.
    Tracy's contention was that if an American is in a country that does not recognize due process, the American government is free to incinerate them and leave due process behind.

    I can't believe that to be true.


    And I think that's what the fight has (5.00 / 2) (#85)
    by Anne on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 11:27:15 AM EST
    been about, with most of us believing that if the Constitution is a check on the power of government, and controls what it can and cannot do vis-a-vis "persons," then those controls should not be able to be discarded at the border.

    If I'm in East Bumflipistan, and I commit a crime against the laws of that country, I am subject to the laws of that country, no question.  But if I'm in East Bumflipistan and the American government wants to take some kind of action against me for crimes it thinks I have committed against the US, I think the US needs to act in line with the Constitution and US law.

    This is why the drone program has been such an issue - because we don't have the information to determine if the program is being conducted legally.  And it's why it makes no sense to have a Drone Court - as has been suggested - because that still doesn't get to the issue of whether it's even legal to do what we're doing.

    It still boggles my mind that every Tom, Dick and Jane in Congress can stand before the public and acknowledge there's a drone program, but when the matter lands in a court of law, the government takes the position that whether we do or we don't is a matter of national security and so must remain secret.

    What kind of country are we, and what kind of country do we want to be?  How long can we maintain the illusion that we are about democracy and freedom when our actions in so many areas are anything but?  The moment the powers that be decided that our national security trumped every guiding principle of this country is the day we started making it easier to start applying that approach to many other areas of our lives.

    I can't tell you how sick and sad I am at the kinds of things that are now done in our name.


    I think (5.00 / 1) (#90)
    by lentinel on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 01:53:14 PM EST
    the biggest disappointment is that Obama did not represent the change and fresh air that people were hoping for around the world.

    It still feels as if W. is with us.
    And it feels to me as if everyone is resigned to it and just finding ways to cope with it and, if possible, survive until the next election.


    W. IS still with us (5.00 / 3) (#91)
    by shoephone on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 02:13:50 PM EST
    because Obama refused to hold him, Cheney, and their posse to account. But then... why would he, when he wants the same questionable powers, and more?

    I (5.00 / 1) (#95)
    by lentinel on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 05:17:21 PM EST
    agree with you.

    Letting Bush and Cheney off the hook for their crimes against the constitution and the people of the country is Obama's insurance policy.

    He is insuring that he can do what he likes, eviscerate the constitution as he pleases, lie at will, kill whomever he wants, imprison whomever he likes and deny due process whenever he wishes without suffering any consequences whatsoever now or in the future.


    My interpretation (none / 0) (#96)
    by NYShooter on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 06:22:11 PM EST
    of the "legality" of these issues is that Patriot Program trumps everything else.......U.S. laws, Due Process, and even the Constitution. It is Obama's 007  Card, His License to Kill.

    Once we authorized a single person, The President, the right to seize anyone he wants to, on his own authority, hold him/her indefinitely, without pressing charges, and deny him/her council (or visits of any type, or with any one) and even grant him the authority to deny he's seized any one, well................what's left to be said?

    I have only one question: Could someone please tell me what the difference is between a President of the United States and a dictator? That's not hyperbole. Lock up anyone he wants? Check.  Torture anyone he wants? Check.  Kill anyone he wants? Check.

    Never mind, I answered my own question.


    I can't believe (5.00 / 1) (#86)
    by Zorba on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 11:28:36 AM EST
    it's true either, lentinel.  But apparently the President, his Justice Department, and his Department of Defense all must think it's true.  Unfortunately.   :-(

    Too bad the UN has no bite (5.00 / 1) (#87)
    by shoephone on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 12:10:23 PM EST
    because it seems pretty clear the drones flout international law.

    Seen this re: UN & Drones? (none / 0) (#88)
    by vicndabx on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 01:25:35 PM EST
    Ben Emmerson, the United Nations special rapporteur for human rights and counterterrorism, tells Danger Room he's giving his qualified backing to John Brennan, President Obama's top counterterrorism adviser and nominee to become CIA director.

    U.N.'s Drone Investigator Backs Brennan for Top CIA Job, wired.com


    The very first paragraph of your linked (5.00 / 1) (#92)
    by MO Blue on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 02:42:40 PM EST
    article states that Emmerson's "qualified backing" is based on the hope that Brennan will rein in the drone strikes and targeted killings instead of an endorsement of current policy.

    The head of the United Nations inquiry into drone strikes and targeted killings believes the chief architect of those efforts will rein them in at the CIA.

    Obama's Hope and Change campaign has become a Hope the administration will Change.


    That certainly is one way to look at it. (none / 0) (#94)
    by vicndabx on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 03:06:11 PM EST
    Well, that's disturbing, (none / 0) (#89)
    by shoephone on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 01:30:17 PM EST
    to say the least. The previous person in Emmerson's position did not think the drones were legal under int'l law. In any case, the UN never really takes the U.S. to task for anything, no matter how egregious the action. Toothless.

    Sorry, Tent, this is not the country it was (5.00 / 5) (#22)
    by Dadler on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 04:17:20 PM EST
    We have no real leaders. NONE. And The country that respected laws, lived by them (well, sort of and mostly), is over and dead and likely never coming back. This is a nation in which the powers-that-be would be glad to cull half the population. This is a nation that allows companies to lie and cheat and steal with impunity every day, to destroy Americans lives right here, why on earth would killing them here be any different?  This is a nation that doesn't think it's citizens deserve jobs because of basic human dignity. This is a nation that, OBVIOUSLY, places the value of money FAR above the value of human life. We could only be in the place we are by doing so. There is no other route to our current wretched state than by placing things and money above people. A corporate kleptocracy happy having to have its entire life stolen.

    The government and others kill Americans and ruin their lives daily, along with others around the world, and they care about one thing: their tiny d*cks and their fat wallets. And the companies that make these drones are lobbying hard to have them everywhere all the time.

    Hey, I would love believe he government feels restrained by laws. But my eyes tell me differently.

    I've always thought (5.00 / 1) (#62)
    by MyLeftMind on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 11:05:14 AM EST
    that the Bush admin secretly recorded cell phone conversations of elected Democrats after 9/11 in order to get dirt for leverage to pass the inappropriately named Patriot Act. Remember, the recording was going on for a while before anyone knew it was happening. It just seems that far too many Democrats fell into line with Bush on the Patriot Act and going to war in Iraq. Even if they didn't have evidence of a congress person's criminal or unethical actions, just recording them insulting their spouse or other members of Congress or talking about how hot their new congressional intern is would embarrass them enough to ruin their chances at reelection. How hard would it be to get members of Congress to have inappropriate phone conversations before anyone knew the government was recording cell phone calls? The fact that conversations were recorded and the public has never had access to those calls, but the government does, is what degrades our democratic representation.

    Drones might be the next big thing to undermine our democracy. Sure, they'll catch more criminals, maybe even get a terrorist or two. But more likely the spying will used against Occupy protesters, environmentalists and other concerned citizens working to help our country and the world fight destructive capitalism. And of course, it's always handy to have tracking records of your electoral opponent, including video of everyone they've been with 24x7.

    The government is already creating massive databases of vehicle movements, tracking every legally registered car that drives along our roads. Drone spying on Americans will just be one more invasion of privacy that the the public, especially the left, will accept from the guy we voted for.


    Funny (5.00 / 1) (#65)
    by ScottW714 on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 11:47:07 AM EST
    The implication being that D's would not have supported Bush's BS for any other reason than extortion.  I assume this includes the vote to go to war with Iraq as well.

    Sure, keep believing that, doesn't really explain why they keep voting to extend the Patriot Act.  Or why they support the exact same BS, plus some, now that Obama is behind the wheel.

    As much as the media and the parties want you to believe they are polar opposites, they are one in the same for about 95% of the things they are responsible for and the products they have produced in the last 12 years reflect that.


    Yeah, good point. (none / 0) (#70)
    by MyLeftMind on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 04:22:34 PM EST
    But imagine how effective Sky Spying drones would be. They could get some embarrassing or compromising pictures of movie stars and other public figures and then use extortion to keep them from making public statements about protecting the environment. Or catch elected officials picking up prostitutes. Or picking their nose. You name it, these spy eyes drones can find it.

    Maybe we can simply reverse our strategy and claim we need this spying on Americans for the public good, but the government doesn't get to keep them private.  Every single video will be available for public viewing. Voila, no risk of extortion.


    who needs drones? (5.00 / 1) (#74)
    by NYShooter on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 06:50:49 PM EST
    "Or catch elected officials picking up prostitutes"

    This has been going on at least since J. Edgar Hoover, and probably a whole lot longer.

    Old bugger, J. Edgar, had the goods on just about everyone. Most of the six Presidents he worked under hated him, but none had the cajones to dump him.


    Sounds to me (none / 0) (#72)
    by Zorba on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 04:47:52 PM EST
    as though this would lead to everyone, men as well as women, starting to wear burqas while out in public.

    Dumb... (5.00 / 3) (#64)
    by ScottW714 on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 11:32:30 AM EST
    ...does anyone think for a minute that they can't find a couple lawyers to interpret the Constitution to satisfy their slavemasters needs.  If this past 12 years has taught me one thing, its that the office of the POTUS is bulletproof and the Constitution is nothing more than some abstract unpleasantry that lawyers will happily game, if called to do so.

    Who's going to call them on it, not sure why they even bother with the layer bit, no one is going to hold them accountable if they claim 'National Defense'.  The system is so gamed at this point, a conviction, if anyone actually had those kinds of balls, would be impossible.  Secret courts with secret judges, secret evidence, and who knows what other kinds of un-Constitutional non-sense, ensure no one will ever be accountable.  I would be shocked if the US Government has not sanctioned assassinations of US Citizens on American soil.

    So all the lawyers and legal professors in the world can hash this out, but it won't make one damn bit of difference until we elect people who take the Constitution seriously, even for the folks in their own party.  I can't think of any Amendment in the Bill of Rights that hasn't been bent, and at times broken.

    And lastly, does anyone else find it mind boggling that the president has more power outside the jurisdiction in which he was elected to rule.  How does that not break International law ?  
    Imagine Kim Jong-un or Ahmadinejad claiming they had the power to kill their own citizens so long as it wasn't in their respective countries, which includes the US.  It's absurd, especially if you believe they don't have that power w/i the boundaries they rule.  

    This is the kind of BS perpetual wars allow, and Grade A fuel for terrorists.

    Better question might be this... (none / 0) (#14)
    by redwolf on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 12:47:42 PM EST
    what's the difference between the DHS, FBI, DEA, and the military?  The line between the police and the military seems quite thin these days.  If the president has the DHS drone strike a  "terrorist" or drug dealer he can then claim it's not a violation of the Posse Comitatus Act.

    To think that existing Posse Comitatus (none / 0) (#25)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 04:51:02 PM EST
    could easily be breached is nothing short of self breeding your own delirium.  I know people like to hate on the President and the current administration but to think they would ever believe that the existing reality empowers them to kill people and crap on due process is too much hysteria for me.  To get yourself knee jerk believing such things you must want to believe them first.

    We have used drones in failed states and in areas that the sovereign powers are unable to provide a system of due process and are unable to even secure.  And terrorist networks seek out those exact places to inhabit for those reasons.

    oy (5.00 / 2) (#30)
    by sj on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 06:05:44 PM EST
    ...to think they would ever believe that the existing reality empowers them to kill people and crap on due process is too much hysteria for me.
    There's more than one kind of hysteria.

    Really? (2.00 / 1) (#36)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 06:25:07 PM EST
    Oh absolutely (none / 0) (#52)
    by sj on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 10:05:40 PM EST
    I present Exhibit A

    It (5.00 / 5) (#37)
    by lentinel on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 06:39:37 PM EST
    seems obvious to me that the current administration believes fully and without hesitation that it has the right to kill people and crap on due process.

    How else would you describe the premeditated killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen who was placed on a CIA "kill list" last year and died in a targeted strike in Yemen.

    How else would you describe the killing of Al-Awlaki's teenage son, Abdulrahman, also an American citizen, who was killed in a separate strike in which six others died two weeks later while they were eating dinner by a roadside.

    The ACLU is bringing suit on behalf of the families of these American citizens who were killed on the grounds that as citizens of the US, they were entitled to due process. I don't consider the ACLU a hysterical group.

    And who do you really think "likes to hate" Obama?
    What a waste of time and emotional energy.
    But I do think some of his actions are contemptible and are a foul continuation of the rotten legacy of the Bush administration.


    Breeched? Perhaps not... (5.00 / 1) (#57)
    by unitron on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 09:52:45 AM EST
    ...finessed around, however, may well be a different story.

    Although I don't think it's the drones themselves that are the real issue here, as there are any number of ways of killing that will leave the target just as dead.

    It's about the circumstances under which the government of the U.S. can make who dead where, and the answer is pretty important because it bears directly on the question not only of the rights of U.S. citizens vis-à-vis their own government, but the question of under what circumstances can other governments make who dead where as well.


    Slippery Slope (none / 0) (#34)
    by diogenes on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 06:22:31 PM EST
    Next you'll be telling us that because there is an "International Court of Justice" or some such thing that tries war criminals that international law means that Obama has no right to authorize drone strikes abroad absent a declaration of war.

    Post about domestic use of drones (none / 0) (#67)
    by vicndabx on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 01:25:51 PM EST
    why are people going on about what was done w/drones outside of the US?

    Beyond the fact that the AUMF authorizes the president internationally - agree w/it or not, the post isn't about international law or anything else.

    I too don't believe any US President would ever use drones against citizens domestically, not w/the tools in place to apprehend individuals in the country.

    Beyond that, as you note, the Constitution prevents it, except in drastic situations, and there is legislation making the round in various state legislatures and Congress to outlaw use of weaponized UAV's in the US.

    Marcy Wheeler says targeted killing on U.S. soil (none / 0) (#93)
    by caseyOR on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 02:59:58 PM EST
    would not be a drone strike. I agree. It is so easy for the government to kill someone who is in the U.S. There is no need to draw attention to it by using a drone.

    In this recent article Marcy explains how the U.S. government might carry out a targeted killing in the United States. It is so simple. An unfortunately not infrequent occurrence involves law enforcement "forced" to shoot someone because oh-my-god-the-cops-thought-the-guy (or gal)-had-a-gun.

    Police departments across the country use this excuse all the time. It is proven to work. Why wouldn't the federal government adopt an already proven tactic?

    Which leads me to think that perhaps the government is already targeting U.S. citizens on U.S. soil and feeding the mystery gun story to the public.


    The DOJ Lawyers are Guilty of Conspiracy to Murder (none / 0) (#97)
    by DoctorD on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 01:23:33 AM EST
    The DOJ Lawyers are Guilty of Conspiracy to Commit Murder

    The DOJ memo does more than claim to justify murder. It explicitly contemplates that the procedures described are being carried out. This is the exact equivalent of a Mob Lawyer advising his client how to commit murder and avoid being prosecuted for it. All of the DOJ lawyers who participated in the creation of this memo became guilty of Conspiracy to Commit Murder in the First Degree the moment any agent of the United States committed the first overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy. Since President Obama and others have publicly admitted to killings that qualify as "overt acts in furtherance of the conspiracy", all of the DOJ lawyers are already guilty.

    1. The Geneva conventions define the Law of War to only apply on the actual Field of Battle. Every where else the ordinary civilian laws and police powers apply.

    2. The AUMF authorized the use of force only against the Taliban and the original Al-Qa'ida.

    3. The Field of Battle was defined in the AUMF as only extending to Afghanistan and other places where the Taliban and the original Al-Qa'ida are located.

    4. The Taliban and Al-Qa'ida only are to be found in Afghanistan and the mountains on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    5. In order to qualify under the laws of war as a "co-belligerent" a group would have to have signed a treaty with the Taliban or the original Al-Qa'ida or to have made public statements joining or giving allegiance to the Taliban or the original Al-Qa'ida. The only group that did so was Al-Qa'ida in Iraq and even they only did so several years after the war in Iraq started.

    6. All other Islamic armed groups in any other nation are not included. They may be terrorists and they may hate the US, but they are not co-belligerents with the Taliban or the original Al-Qa'ida.

    7. Anyone who is not a co-belligerent and is not actually attacking the US is not [Legally] part of the state of war authorized by the AUMF. Any use of force against such person is subject to normal civilian law and not the Law of War.

    8. The use of "Imminent Threat" in the DOJ memo is contrary to how "Imminent Threat" is defined in both US Law and the Geneva Conventions. For someone to be an Imminent Threat to the US there must be close proximity in both time and location between the threatening person, an act of violence expected to be committed by that person and the US or US forces [who must also have a right to be where they are].

    9. The US only gains any rights to use force against a person claimed to be an Imminent Threat when the person is "Within Reach" of US forces. Nobody in Somalia, Yemen, or in some village in western Pakistan is "Within Reach" of US forces, so they cannot be an Imminent Threat. Also, a person can never be an Imminent Threat to a Predator Drone.

    10. Speech can never be an Imminent Threat, only acts of violence count as an Imminent Threat.

    11. The Geneva Conventions only allow a "kill without any attempt to capture" mission on an actual battle field, everywhere else such a mission is illegal. Civilian Law forbids such missions entirely.

    12. Signature strikes against unknown persons not on the field of battle and without any particularized threat are always illegal under the Geneva Conventions and are Murder under US law.

    13. Double Tap strikes on rescue workers are specifically prohibited by the Geneva Conventions.

    14. Strikes on Funerals and other places where civillians are likely to be are also specifically prohibited by the Geneva Conventions.

    15. The Geneva Conventions were signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower and ratified by the Senate in 1955. Since then they are US Law in accordance with Article Six of the US Constitution: "all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land".

    16. As a consequence, all of the Drone strikes in Yemen, Somalia and western Pakistan are subject to civilian law and under civilian law they are acts of Premeditated Murder in the First Degree. Everyone who participates in, plans, orders or writes legal memos justifying such acts are guilty of Murder, Conspiracy to Commit Murder or Accessory to Murder.

    What it boils down to is this: no lawyer in the DOJ or the Office of Legal Counsel can write a memo that makes legal something that is patently illegal. Anyone who acts on such a memo is not acting in good faith and has no immunity against prosecution. Kidnapping, Rendition, Rape, Torture and Murder are illegal everywhere in the world and no memo or executive order can make them legal.

    All of these crimes have either no statute of limitations or a very long term. That means that some DOJ or President 10, 15 or 20 years from now can prosecute everyone who participated in these crimes. Members of the Bush-Cheney administration have already been convicted in-absentia for War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity and now they cannot safely travel outside of the US. The same concequence will soon happen to the Obama administration.

    Our only hope is that some future President will actually believe in the US Constitution and the Rule of Law and will bring these Murderers and Torturers to justice.

    this does not seem like a comment (none / 0) (#98)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 01:41:11 AM EST
    but a reprint. Are you the author, and have you published this elsewhere? Or did you copy it from someplace?