When Obama officials (like Bush officials before them) refer to someone “who is a senior operational leader of Al Qaeda or associated forces,” what they mean is this: someone the President has accused and then decreed in secret to be a Terrorist without ever proving it with evidence. The “process” used by the Obama administration to target Americans for execution-by-CIA is, as reported last October by Reuters, as follows:
American militants like Anwar al-Awlaki are placed on a kill or capture list by a secretive panel of senior government officials, which then informs the president of its decisions . . . There is no public record of the operations or decisions of the panel, which is a subset of the White House’s National Security Council . . . Neither is there any law establishing its existence or setting out the rules by which it is supposed to operate.
As Leon Panetta recently confirmed, the President makes the ultimate decision as to whether the American will be killed: “[The] President of the United States obviously reviews these cases, reviews the legal justification, and in the end says, go or no go.”
So that is the “process” which Eric Holder yesterday argued constitutes “due process” as required by the Fifth Amendment before the government can deprive of someone of their life: the President and his underlings are your accuser, your judge, your jury and your executioner all wrapped up in one, acting in total secrecy and without your even knowing that he’s accused you and sentenced you to death, and you have no opportunity even to know about, let alone confront and address, his accusations; is that not enough due process for you? At Esquire, Charles Pierce, writing about Holder’s speech, described this best: “a monumental pile of crap that should embarrass every Democrat who ever said an unkind word about John Yoo.”
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I’ve obviously written about the Obama assassination program many times before but there are several points worth examining in light of Holder’s speech and the reaction to it:
(1) The willingness of Democrats to embrace and defend this power is especially reprehensible because of how completely, glaringly and obviously at odds it is with everything they loudly claimed to believe during the Bush years. Recall two of the most significant “scandals” of the Bush War on Terror: his asserted power merely to eavesdrop on and detain accused Terrorists without judicial review of any kind. Remember all that? Progressives endlessly accused Bush of Assaulting Our Values and “shredding the Constitution” simply because Bush officials wanted to listen in on and detain suspected Terrorists — not kill them, just eavesdrop on and detain them — without first going to a court and proving they did anything wrong. Yet here is a Democratic administration asserting not merely the right to surveil or detain citizens without charges or judicial review, but to kill them without any of that: a far more extreme, permanent and irreversible act. Yet, with some righteous exceptions, the silence is deafening, or worse.
How can anyone who vocally decried Bush’s mere eavesdropping and detention powers without judicial review possibly justify Obama’s executions without judicial review? How can the former (far more mild powers) have been such an assault on Everything We Stand For while the latter is a tolerable and acceptable assertion of war powers? If Barack Obama has the right to order accused Terrorists executed by the CIA because We’re At War, then surely George Bush had the right to order accused Terrorists eavesdropped on and detained on the same ground.
That the same Party and political faction that endlessly shrieked about Bush’s eavesdropping and detention programs now tolerate Obama’s execution program is one of the most extreme and craven acts of dishonesty we’ve seen in quite some time.
Not, of course, that we on the Right haven’t had our own love affair with the Police State going since we whored for torture and the Patriot Act. But we didn’t leaven our enthusiasm for the truncheon with the base alloy of hypocrisy: we celebrated the destruction of civil rights with naked pagan approval and closed ranks to attack those who dared to question the erection of the torture state. We wrote frank apologetics for acts of murder. We have since gone on to celebrate Mr. Catholic for calling cold-blooded murder “wonderful”. We made it clear on the Right from day one that we thought torture was swell. And so Greenwald can write with bitter irony, “By stark contrast, right–wing leaders, pundits and bloggers are being commendably consistent: they cheered for Bush’s due-process-free eavesdropping and detention programs and, based on exactly the same reasoning, they now lavishly praise President Obama for extending that mentality to assassinations.” Good job Team Conservative! You haven’t even *tried* to pretend to care about the Constitution or grave intrinsic evil here, so nobody can lay a glove on you with the whole “hypocrisy” charge (though that whole “GOP Jesus” vibe does rather have a whiff of sulfur about it if you ask me).
But on the Left, fake moral dudgeon was the order of day–while it was Bush in office. Yes, the Lefties were going to show us the new Post-Christian Right Morality that doesn’t need God and just Does the Right Thing because of their native virtue.
How’s that working out for you guys? How come Greenwalds are so few and far between, but excuse makers and stony silence are the order of the day? With the exception of a few honorable Lefties like Greenwald, you hear crickets.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I am not a “secret Obama supporter”. The Left specializes in this kind of fake moral outrage and long has done so. But they are every inch the police state fascists who are willing to smash human rights and civil rights and call it “keeping you safe” as they seize power. I’ll take the Left seriously when they demonstrate the same amount of moral dudgeon over their God King as they do having fake moral panic attacks over some radio talking head. Greenwald sees the difference between straining at the Limbaugh gnat and swallowing the camel of Presidentially-authorized murder. I see precious little evidence the rest of the Regressive Left knows or cares. Hence the unbelievably arrogant campaign to smash the Church as well. Caesar is a jealous god and his sycophants and toadies are thick on the ground.
Please. Do read the whole thing. You now live in a police state with a Ruling Class that claims unchecked power to kill you. Only custom and the inertia of culture protects you. Law no longer does. It was a bipartisan effort and it took the combined labors of Lefties and Righties to achieve it, but working together ideologues from across the political spectrum have successfully put ordered liberty on life support in the US and will, soon, pull the plug if they are not stopped. They will blame each other as they do it, while boasting that they themselves are saving you, but they will do it nonetheless.