I’m sorry if I misunderstood, but for whatever reason, I was under the impression that this present administration was the administration of law and order which placed the rights of citizens and non-citizens alike in the forefront of any considerations it made. No more of this “supreme executive” touting the law and infringing on the rights of good Americans. Why, the administration even made a point of demanding Miranda rights be given insurgents and terrorists snagged on the battlefield. It made a big deal (from which it has since backed away) about trying terror suspects in civilian courts to show the world we could handle those misfits in our court system.
So how did this suddenly morph into an administration which throws due process down the toilet and orders the assassination of a US citizen – even odious ones with ties to terrorism?
Look, to use one of Obama’s favorite rhetorical flourishes, let me be clear – bad guys are not people I normally defend. And I’m no fan of US citizens who’re engaged in activities I’d deem hostile to the citizenry of this country at large. But that doesn’t mean you can arbitrarily throw “due process” under the bus because it is expedient to do so. That is unless you also have no problem having that process thrown under the bus if you are deemed some sort of a threat (to be defined as needed later). I mean this is mafia territory. You just call Vinny and put a hit out on the guy. Due process? The supreme executive don’t need no due process. Hit him.
Glenn Greenwald, not someone I’m normally in agreement right, fulfills the law of stopped clocks – they’re right twice daily. He’s absolutely correct in his outrage at the Obama administration:
George Bush’s decision merely to eavesdrop on American citizens without oversight, or to detain without due process Americans such as Jose Padilla and Yaser Hamdi, provoked years of vehement, vocal and intense complaints from Democrats and progressives. All of that was disparaged as Bush claiming the powers of a King, a vicious attack on the Constitution, a violation of Our Values, the trampling on the Rule of Law. Yet here you have Barack Obama not merely eavesdropping on or detaining Americans without oversight, but ordering them killed with no oversight and no due process of any kind.
We at this blog were quite clear about how we felt about Jose Padilla and his unconstitutional handling. Yes, it’s harder than just being a nice nazi and ignoring the Constitutional provisions provided by our nation’s founding legal document. But it’s harder for good reason – and this decision to assassinate a US citizen points to the very core of the reason. Without due process as guaranteed by the Constitution, this is how those in power could act arbitrarily. No longer the rule of law – it becomes the arbitrary rule of men. And there’s nothing to say that US citizens such a regime couldn’t find “enemies” of the state to be marked for assassination domestically as well.
Again, I have absolutely no love for this cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki. Is he an enemy of the state? That’s what due process is designed to determine. What we do know is he’s a US citizen born in New Mexico. Issue an arrest warrant. Demand Yemen arrest and extradite him. Drag his jihadist butt into court and try him on the charges. Present evidence. Let him face his accusers and try to refute the charges. And if found guilty, punish him to the full extent of the law. In this case, I absolutely agree that criminal court is the proper venue for this sort of trial.
But who the hell is Barack Obama to arbitrarily and unilaterally waive Constitutional due process (oh, that’s right, he’s a Constitutional law professor, isn’t he?) and order the assassination of a US citizen? And as an aside – where are all the liberal voices who spent every waking hour worrying about George Bush’s eavesdropping and loudly denouncing it, forever and ever, amen? Why are they, for the most part, silent on the subject of assassinating a US citizen?