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View Diary: Memo explains administration's legal rationale behind targeted killings. Senate critics not soothed (543 comments)

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  •  This is profoundly non-troubling to me. (5+ / 0-)

    The Constitution not being a suicide pact, etc.  The idea that someone gets a free pass by traveling to a part of the world where there's no effective state, or where the state is frankly hostile to the US, is not something I would want my government to live with.  

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 09:58:26 AM PST

    •  So, really, we should amend the 5th Amendment, (11+ / 0-)

      to say, "unless its really inconvenient."

      "We refuse to fight in a war started by men who refused to fight in a war." -freewayblogger

      by Bisbonian on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 10:01:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Agreed. (0+ / 0-)

      I'm sympathetic to the line of thought that the AUMF war powers are too broad, and could in the future could be used for more nefarious purposes.

      But the case of al-Awlaki is unprecedented.  Never before has an American citizen aligned himself with a nonstate belligerent organization that plans and executes armed attacks against the United States.  The idea that this guy can retreat to rural Yemen and plot attacks (and he has--see the Underwear Bomber) basically unabated doesn't exactly give me the warm fuzzies.  As a strictly practical matter, I can't think of any other feasible options other than the one we took.

      Congress should amend or repeal the AUMF or otherwise restrict the president's broad war powers under that law.  But the public (incl. a majority of Democrats) broadly supports the current policy and we gotta live with what we have for the most part.

      •  Never before? (0+ / 0-)

        Hyperbolic to the extreme...

        "Small Businesses Don't Build Levees" - Melissa Harris Perry

        by justmy2 on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 11:21:18 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  try reading up on the militia movement if (0+ / 0-)

        you doubt me...plus others on foreign soil

        "Small Businesses Don't Build Levees" - Melissa Harris Perry

        by justmy2 on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 11:22:12 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I was referring specifically (0+ / 0-)

          to nonstate belligerent organizations with which the United States has declared a legal state of armed conflict.  I should have made that more clear.

          •  so, if lets say the Black Panthers were deemed (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            MPociask

            such an organization by the executive branch (oh wait, they were) , you would deem this policy legitimate?

            "Small Businesses Don't Build Levees" - Melissa Harris Perry

            by justmy2 on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 11:27:47 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  No they are not. (0+ / 0-)

              The AUMF defines who we are in armed conflict with.

              •  and J Edgar Hoover defined them similarly (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                MPociask, aliasalias

                during the 60's / 70's.

                Read up...they were defined as a militant, enemy of the state, and that designation was used to take extrajudicial action...

                "Small Businesses Don't Build Levees" - Melissa Harris Perry

                by justmy2 on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 11:39:10 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I'm a little familiar with COINTELPRO. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  sweatyb

                  But, the two situations are fundamentally different.  COINTELPRO was a domestic law enforcement operation, while the al-Awlaki affair is more relevant to the laws of war on foreign soil, a war authorized by Congress.

                  I get the moral equivalency you're trying to make, but the legal framework, especially concerning the laws of war, does not necessarily reflect morality.  I even agree that it sucks.

                  I'm not really a legal purist.  I don't think there's any be-all, end-all interpretation of the law; our system mandates that we go with whatever the courts have to say.  One of my biggest takeaways from the movie Lincoln was that the Lincoln administration was far from sure that the Emancipation Proclamation was legal, but they asserted that it was confiscation of property under its war power.  That's how I've come to understand our legal system to work.  It's probably not a position that civil libertarians view very fondly, but it gives you an idea of my general outlook on things.

                  •  I appreciate the nuance. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    jdsnebraska

                    But may I ask why you believe that a simple declaration of war is enough to bypass the law of the land as related to US Citizens.

                    1.  If that is the case, why do we even have Laws of War and Rules of Engagement.

                    2.  Secondarily, why would you deem an organization on foreign soil more of a threat, required reinterpretation of laws, but an organization with the same designation actually here on domestic soil?

                    Remember, this is the executive branches designation of the Black Panthers at the time:

                    Federal Bureau of Investigation Director J. Edgar Hoover called the party “the greatest threat to the internal security of the country,”
                    Why would the same rules that you appear to be supporting not be appropriate for a group with this designation based on executive branch classified findings?

                    "Small Businesses Don't Build Levees" - Melissa Harris Perry

                    by justmy2 on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 12:11:43 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Well, (0+ / 0-)

                      1.  I would go so far to say that the al-Awlaki incident is legally in a gray area, or even uncharted territory.  Are American citizens in foreign countries aligned with organizations at war with the United States afforded due process, or are they treated merely as a member of said enemy organization?  Can the US engage in return fire against an American citizen involved in such conflicts?  That's an open question as far as I'm concerned.  It's an unusual case with unusual circumstances.  

                      My position is that playing it safe with regard to due process rights is overshadowed by playing it safe with respect to future armed attacks.  I ascertain this position by judging that (a) due process is largely a matter of criminal law, not preventative military action, (b) it's impractical and dangerous to send special forces into Yemen to capture al-Awlaki, and (c) the political implications of a failed operation, or another attack on U.S. soil, would be disastrous.  I realize that it's not particularly satisfying to consider politics in the same paragraph as legal matters, but it's a concern that every single president in American history has to consider, and thus must be taken into account.

                      Regarding the Laws of War, the Geneva Conventions are old and vague, and it's difficult to apply them to the kind of armed conflict we're participating in.  The prevailing wisdom seems to lie in the natural right to self-defense.

                      2.  I'll be brief.  Domestic terrorism is the responsibility of domestic law enforcement and the judicial system, period.  The military has no business getting involved in that.  It is much more clear-cut when Constitutional rights are violated in the process of criminal justice than for preventative military operations.  There is no judicial involvement whatsoever in the prosecution of military matters.

                      •  I have to head to a meeting (0+ / 0-)

                        but I do not believe there is any distinction here.

                        Are American citizens in foreign countries aligned with organizations at war with the United States afforded due process, or are they treated merely as a member of said enemy organization?  
                        Citizenship and rights are not renounced based on a determination by the executive branch.  The constitution clearly articulates who is deemed a citizen.
                        All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.
                        The rights of citizens can not be removed without due process.
                        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
                        That is clear and concise.  The reason I bring up the Black Panthers is because it is a clear example of where the executive branch made a designation, and if this policy was applied some very harmful things could have happened to our nation.

                        We are a nation of laws.  It is in difficult times that we demonstrate whether this is true.  When we make excuses, we do ourselves more harm than good.

                        Stephen Colbert perfectly mocked this theory when Eric Holder first unveiled it to defend the president's assassination program. At the time, Holder actually said: "due process and judicial process are not one and the same." Colbert interpreted that claim as follows:

                            "Trial by jury, trial by fire, rock, paper scissors, who cares? Due process just means that there is a process that you do. The current process is apparently, first the president meets with his advisers and decides who he can kill. Then he kills them."

                        Regarding your last question:
                        Can the US engage in return fire against an American citizen involved in such conflicts?
                        Return fire is not an issue of citizenship.  A police officer can return fire.  Heck, citizens can return fire if in a gunfight at their house, much less overseas.

                        "Small Businesses Don't Build Levees" - Melissa Harris Perry

                        by justmy2 on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 01:04:52 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                    •  BTW, nice, civil discussion. (0+ / 0-)

                      I think it benefits all parties when they can try to better delineate their own thought process on certain issues.

                      •  I do as well. It is ok to discuss (0+ / 0-)

                        and even if someone take a position diametrically opposed to the other parties, that doesn't mean they dislike the other party.

                        There is no way to persuade or learn without discussion.

                        "Small Businesses Don't Build Levees" - Melissa Harris Perry

                        by justmy2 on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 12:56:12 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

            •  Well, that depends... (0+ / 0-)

              Were the Black Panthers involved in attacking/bombing US embassies and US military personnel?

              You mentioned something about "hyperbolic to the extreme"...

              The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing online commenters that they have anything to say.-- B.F.

              by lcj98 on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 11:41:45 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  did you just ask that question? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                aliasalias

                Or do you really not know the history of the black panthers, their tactics, and the government's tactics?

                Federal Bureau of Investigation Director J. Edgar Hoover called the party “the greatest threat to the internal security of the country,
                Sound familiar?

                And regarding your main point...do the Pentagon and Capitol meet your criteria?

                http://en.wikipedia.org/...

                Just because you are not aware of history, doesn't make someone else hyperbolic...

                "Small Businesses Don't Build Levees" - Melissa Harris Perry

                by justmy2 on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 11:57:00 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

    •  It is interesting to contrast gun control to (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fuzzyguy, Ozy

      this issue...seems like many have a completely different attitude about 'government threats' etc depending on which subject is being discussed.

      I see what you did there.

      by GoGoGoEverton on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 10:14:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not only government threats (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sweatyb

        but also the 'absolutism' of the respective Bill of Rights amendments.

        Certainly, let's have an honest discussion about appropriate governmental powers and limits, but let's not argue that the 2nd amendment needs to be evaluated in the context of the modern day real world problems and then refuse to do the same with the 4th.

    •  So you are ok with the same policy on American (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Simplify, truong son traveler

      soil?

      If not, why not?

      "Small Businesses Don't Build Levees" - Melissa Harris Perry

      by justmy2 on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 11:16:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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