Is this back to the Star Chamber approach to justice, with secret courts, no indictments, no witnesses, and no appeals, all in service to the monarch?
U.S. senators are now floating the idea of an assassination court as a way to rein in the ever-expanding drone program — a secretive operation that, as it is, sounds like thriller fiction, but isn’t.
The idea was bandied about during Thursday’s confirmation hearing for CIA director nominee John Brennan, who fueled the talk by saying he thinks the concept is “worthy of discussion.” The nominee, as a vocal supporter of the targeted-killing program, has come under scrutiny for what some lawmakers see as the administration’s unchecked power to kill, even if the target is an American citizen.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said as part of an effort to regulate the killing, she wants to review proposals to create something similar to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court — which reviews requests for wiretaps against suspected foreign agents — for drone strikes.Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, is pushing the idea the hardest.
According to his vision, the drone court would be an avenue for U.S. officials to argue in secret before a judge why an American citizen should be targeted for death. He said it would be like “going to a court for a warrant” and proving probable cause.
Except in this case, the judge would be ruling not on a search warrant or a wiretap — but a missile strike from thousands of feet in the air, and thousands of miles away.
Yes, there is the problem of targeting terrorists, including those who are American citizens. But with this precedent–and remember how the judicial system is all about precent–couldn’t this also be used against other citizens designated “enemies of the state”? Isn’t this just the Star Chamber for the 21st century? And isn’t that what our Constitutional processes were directly trying to address?