Drone-killing without Due Process, and Obama and Ayers – UPDATED AGAIN

Ed Morrissey links here to one of the most chilling things I’ve heard in ages:

Worth watching in its entirety, as Joe Scarborough pings the consequences of the drone-strike memo back and forth with Michael Isikoff, but the best reactions take place near the beginning of the video. Isikoff points out that the restrictive language in the memo is almost meaningless, and that it shifts the burden of proof to the target rather than the government. Scarborough calls this “frightening,” and argues that it far surpasses anything done by the Bush administration in the war on terror…

I can’t get the video to embed, so you’ll have to go over to Hot Air to watch it. I urge to do so, but while Ed says the “best reactions” take place near the beginning, I think some of the most revealing stuff comes near the end. I’m staggered to see Harold Ford not only say he supports the killing of American citizens without evidence, solid intelligence or due process, but also to suggest that politicians and ideologues who were relentless in claiming that “enhanced interrogation” shamed America might find themselves in sympathy for the Bush position, for the current sake of Obama. Suddenly, the idea that we had standards that should not be abandoned, even in times of war, should be set aside.

But here’s what really got me: The panel discusses the meat and potatoes of this thing — the fact that you can have a perfectly innocent association with someone deemed a whackable terrorist by this administration, and find yourself killed right alongside him. “You could be sitting in a terrorist’s living room, with no idea that he’s a terrorist…” and the association alone could be enough.

Harold Ford — whom I’ve always rather liked, btw — gets almost cavalier about this. “Hey, if you have a suspected terrorist in your living room, you might have issues, yourself…I’ve never had one in my living room.”

Which made me think, Golly! does this mean that President Obama could conceivably have affected the breathing capabilities of Community Organizer Obama for the innocent act of sitting in the living room of Suspected Terrorist Bill Ayers?

I’m sorry. I couldn’t help it. Like Stay Puft Marshmallow man and Ray Stantz, “it just popped in there.” I know this policy only applies to suspected terrorists abroad. For now.

But, as Daffy Duck would say…hmmmm…somethin’ amiss here.

UPDATED: Hey, take a look at the Q&A Obama completed in 2007:

1. Does the president have inherent powers under the Constitution to conduct surveillance for national security purposes without judicial warrants, regardless of federal statutes?

The Supreme Court has never held that the president has such powers. As president, I will follow existing law, and when it comes to U.S. citizens and residents, I will only authorize surveillance for national security purposes consistent with FISA and other federal statutes.

2. In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress? (Specifically, what about the strategic bombing of suspected nuclear sites — a situation that does not involve stopping an IMMINENT threat?)

The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

As Mr. Bennett would say…read on!

The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point has released a new report, Challenges from the Sidelines: Understanding America’s Violent Far-Right(pdf). Got that? Bait is being thrown. Someone will be stupid enough to take it.

I don’t feel good about any of this.


Jay Carney: Hey, we’re doing it, so you can be sure it’s legal, ethical and wise!

Reason disagrees pretty vehemently

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Lizzy

    Probably another reason why this is so chilling is that the DOJ, DHS, and other agencies have been claiming for years that the greatest threat of domestic terrorism is from the TEA party and other right-leaning organizations deemed so by the SPLC. Further, there are US police departments partnering with DHS to use drones here in the US. I hate how so many of Obama’s moves lead one down the path of nutty conspiracy theories, but there it is. If it’s OK to kill terrorists and their friends overseas, then what is their policy about terrorist threats on US soil? Just asking questions, as they say…

  • DeLynn

    Is it any wonder that there is a run on guns in our country these days? We need to be able to protect ourselves from a tyrannical government. That used to seem to be a very farfetched idea. Not anymore.

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  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    Yeah, the hypocrisy of the media is precious.

    But set that aside, I fully endorse the administration’s policy. First of all Scarborough and Isaacson speak as if this is a police action. There is no need to charge anyone with a crime. In 2001 shortly after 9/11 Congress voted to give the president broad powers in executing a war – not a police action – against the terrorist network headed by a group called Al Qaida. The fact that the person is an American citizen is irrelevant. He has joined this network, has become a combatant against the United States, and, indeed, is plotting the killing of Americans in act of war. If he is a citizen, it’s only a meaningless technicality. He has effectively denounced his citizenship. Would you be up in arms if the man was not a citizen? And if you are then why aren’t you (I’m speaking in general here, not to you Anchoress) up in arms when in the middle of the night a group of military men cornered Osama Bin Laden in his home and pumped bullets into his skull?

    All the arguments posed against this are for arguments in a police action. They are irrelevant in a state of war. We tried to bomb Hitler to kill him. We missed. Other people were killed. We bombed Japan, with nuclear bombs no less. Civilians were killed. War is hell and it destroys your soul. So don’t go into it lightly. But once you’re in, you have to fight.

  • Mike

    This action combined with the Executive Order 13603 of March 16, 2012 National Defense Resources Preparedness and the NDAA of 2012 and 2013 are all quite alarming and are clearly an assault on Constitutional rights. It’s getting scary. Google the EO and the NDAA and learn what this man is doing.

  • frisco eddie

    Hunreds of the thousands of German Americans going back to Germany in the 30s joined the Nazi army. Many were killed by USA, Brits, Canadians.
    the above note;
    “it far surpasses anything done by the Bush administration in the war on terror’
    to compare one or two Al Qaeda deaths as worse than to 4000 US deaths and 100 of thousands of Iraqi deaths is absurd…

  • Peggy m

    Manny, I think you raise points that are worth discussing. That is what has been missing, though—this should be a highly controversial policy and yet the public seems utterly apathetic and the press is no better than Pravda in its presidential cheerleading role. It was the same with the Benghazi disaster, among other “should-be” big stories.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    Correction on my comment above. I meant Isikoff, not Isaacson. No clue who Isaacson is. My brain is not as young as it once was. ;)

  • ahem

    You might find this interesting: The Harbingers of Tyranny

  • Pierre

    Let’s see if we can spot the differences between our war against Al Qaeda and the war against Germany and Japan.

    Al Qaeda is a stateless organization whose members are a shadowy group of people hiding in the midst of truly innocent people.

    Japan was completely mobilized as a country to make war against us…as was Germany.

    The Japanese and Germans wore uniforms…Al Qaeda has decided that uniforms are passe’.

    Anyone could be defined as Al Qaeda…This allows our government, the same government that the founders wrote the bill of rights as protection for us, to identify who is Al Qaeda and who isn’t. We have a President who is friends with a guy, Ayers, who has wet dreams of a revolution where up to 25 million people are killed in the service of the revolution.

    In light of all of that this is a scary scary power we are handing over to these lunatics.

  • Fiestamom

    I know The Anchoress and many other bloggers ( and a huge number of Americans) have been concerned about the news media and their loyalty to all things Obama and the Democrat party. The media is guilty of gross dereliction of duty. Maybe they consider themselves liberals first, Americans second? But I wish they were interested in reporting fairly, and protecting the Constitution that is supposed to protect all of us. I guess following the Constitution and the rule of law is considered quaint and too right wing?

    Over on Patterico’s blog, he has a link to an Iowa congressman’s press release complaining about the EPA using drones on Iowa farmers. The EPA!
    from his report:
    “Few developments in the news in recent weeks have disturbed me more than what we’re learning about the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) using unmanned drone aircraft to monitor Iowa farms.  In some cases, we’re learning that the EPA has used the aircraft to gather information on agricultural operations.  The simple truth is that no government agency should be able to treat Iowa farmers like the Taliban. Alarm is growing among many farmers in the Midwest regarding this surveillance operation.  They’re justifiably concerned that a government agency may be gathering information on them or their property without their consent or knowledge.”

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Well, Manny, that’s the real question here, isn’t it?

    Is this a war, or is it a police action? Nobody seems to be quite sure—including our government. Remember the Abu Ghraib scandal? Waterboarding prisoners, and building “Naked pyramids” was denounced as wrong; horrors as bad as the holocaust. It was argued that the prisoners at Gitmo should have the same rights as American citizens. Islam was a religion of peace after all—wasn’t it? And, really, wasn’t it actually all Israel’s fault, for being so—so Israeli? One more “Peace process”, coming right up!

    Now we’re killing American citizens by drone? Oh well, that’s okay. After all, they’re only terrorists! Being a citizen is now a “Meaningless technicality.” We’re going to treat the Taliban like American citizens, and American citizens like the Taliban.

    Someday, the government might decide that business owners who reject HHS, “Right wing gun nuts”, “Bitter Clingers” to religion and anybody it just doesn’t like is a “Terrorist”. Don’t whine about “Due process”, when the drones come for you! You’re just a terrorist, after all; citizenship is a “Meaningless technicality.”

    I now think the use of drones is a bad idea, and far too tempting for governments.

  • Fiestamom

    It looks like I need to offer a small correction to my EPA drone link. The EPA claims it does not use drones, they use manned aerial flights to surveil agricultural operations in the Midwest. I got the original link from Patterico’s, and here is a correction (explanation) of the story from McClatchy. Frankly, I’m not sure I trust anything this government says right now, but if media fact checkers say it’s not true…..

    I apologize for posting the erroneous info.

  • AgentRose

    Dear Elizabeth,

    I love your web site. But you are a little naive. I’m glad you know about Bill Ayers. But Harold Ford is no angel. Consult two sources: KeyWiki and Discover the Networks to see radical associations. In this case Harold Ford was a member of National Alliance Against Racist (Christians, tea party etc) and Political Oppression. More here: http://keywiki.org/index.php/National Alliance Against Racist and Political Oppression

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    Not sure how to answer you because you’re all over the map with your comment. The Abu Ghraib scandal was a violation of prisoner’s rights; the procedures for the “waterboarding” methodology that were implemented have not been deemed to be a violation of Geneva convention (that specific procedure is not waterboarding as the term is historically/hysterically used), Gitmo prisoners have not been given the same rights as US citizens and have not been charged as criminals but remain locked up as enemy combatants. So everythiing that I see you’re complaining about is consistent with war.

    You are confusing media hype and propaganda with actual reality.

    And I have not seen anything from Congress that the war on terror is over and that the president no longer has the authority to execute a war.

    I am as big a critic of Pres Obama as anyone. There is almost nothing of his policies I support or defend. But he is right (and take that as my opinion) to prosecute a war strategy on terror and use of drones to kill enemy combatants is appropriate.

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  • http://thepoliticalchef.wordpress.com/ thepoliticalchef

    Elizabeth, this was so needed, thank you! I have shared your blog on mine. You are so correct in what you wrote. Thank you so much again! TPC

  • WillMunny

    All that was really necessary for the Awlaki killing to satisfy due process would have been some determination by a COURT that he had renounced U.S. citizenship by his actions.

    That seems to most people to be such a small and insignificant thing that it should be instantly dismissed as irrelevant.

    Of course, when you dismiss that small necessity, you set precedent for dismissing as irrelevant ALL due process. Thus, NO ONE can now claim a due process violation. Lowly process is what allows U.S. citizens to avail themselves of the rights guaranteed them by the U.S. Constitution & other laws. Without “insignificant” process neither you nor I have any legal or constitutional protections. We’ve just ceded all of our rights and privileges as American citizens into the hands of a dictator, for that dictator to determine when we have protections, when we have rights, and when we don’t.

    Everyone is so happy that Awlaki was killed, that they’re willing — eager — to throw away their own Constitutionally guaranteed rights by dismissing due process as totally unimportant. The precedent set by the Awlaki killing, for most people, pales in comparison to the fact that he deserved killing. In other words, kill him no matter what the cost. No matter what the cost to America, American citizens, or liberty in general.

    Such stubbornly ignorant and stridently stupid people will reap what they sow. Unfortunately, so will the rest of us.

  • Lizzy

    So what was their justification for killing Awlaki’s American-born 16 yr old son (by drone strike) a few weeks after killing his father? Did he pose a terrorist threat or was it guilt by association/relation?

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Manny, I think WillMunny actually answers all your questions, in his post.

    As he says, no one can now claim due process violation. Also, the line between “Terrorist” and “American citizen” is becoming dangerously blurred. The same people who were up in arms about the treatment of the former, seem oddly indifferent to the rights of the latter. Oh well, if you’re concerned about this, you’re just falling for media hype, and propaganda—you know, all that propaganda about American citizens being subject to due process. Hmmmm, those guys who don’t like this are terrorists, too! Or terrorist sympathizes. Hmmmmm, maybe we oughta send some drones after them. . .

    Oh well, who cares? Ding-dong, Alwaki’s dead! We’re glad he got killed! If the government starts going after other people—”Bitter clingers” to guns and religion, say, or “Zionists”, or the mentally ill, who might get their hands on guns, we might so be so glad about it—but, by then, it will be too late to demand anything like due process. Hmmmmm, if you don’t like this, you must be a terrorist, too!

    After Fast and Furious, do you really trust this government, with this sort of power? Should any government be trusted with the sort of power drone warfare bestows?

    (Also, as Will points out, it would have been easy for our government to satisfy due process requirements by having a court declare he was no longer an American citizen, but an enemy combatant. That it couldn’t bring itself to do that, speaks volumes.)

    And I still wonder—is this really a war, or is it a police action, or what, exactly, are we doing in this so-called war on terror? Our government supports the Arab spring, which seems to be a front for the Moslem brotherhood, and which has replaced western-friendly governments with more fanatical, Islamist ones. It’s against Israel, but for Libya—even though the latter is the country that murdered our ambassador.

    If it really is a war, why are we still letting so many Saudi nationals into the country? After all, they made up the bulk of the hijackers, on 9/11. As I recall, we didn’t encourage Japanese, or German, immigration during WWII. And, really, how can you have a war on “Terror”? Terrorism is a tool, not an enemy nation; it’s like having a “War on machine guns”, or “A war on atom bombs.”

  • Mark

    Father Z had this to say on the report in update II. http://wdtprs.com/blog/2013/02/are-you-pro-life-you-may-be-considered-a-terrorist-by-the-obama-administration/

    I will find it interesting to see how the left screams about these “abuses” when a republican takes over and uses the Obama precedents he is setting in so many areas.