On Monday, March 5, 2012, US Attorney General Eric Holder gave a speech at Northwestern University that formally placed the United States (and the Obama Administration, specifically) in the ranks of despotic regimes around the world. Unbelievably going even further than George W Bush in disregard for the US Constitution and the rule of law; Holder laid out the case that the President of the United States has a constitutional right to order the execution of American citizens without obligation or effort to bring them to trial or to present to them or the American people any evidence of wrong doing.
In his speech before the audience at the prestigious law college, Holder addressed the issue of national security and the administration’s actions and responsibilities in the post 9-11 era. Stating as fact the same mantra we have been hearing since the days immediately following the terrorist strike on our country on September 11, he began, “We are a nation at war. And, in this war, we face a nimble and determined enemy that cannot be underestimated.” What followed can best be described as the most Orwellian oratory since Richard Nixon’s famous, “When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal” utterance as a defense for his part in the Watergate scandal. The biggest difference, of course, is that Nixon never ordered the assassination of any American citizen. The Attorney General said,
“…But just as surely as we are a nation at war, we also are a nation of laws and values. Even when under attack, our actions must always be grounded on the bedrock of the Constitution – and must always be consistent with statutes, court precedent, the rule of law and our founding ideals. Not only is this the right thing to do – history has shown that it is also the most effective approach we can take in combating those who seek to do us harm…”
He then goes on to outline the various ways in which the administration has used the multiple law enforcement and investigatory agencies to thwart the intent of those laws through the convenience of “inter-agency cooperation.” And then, under the heading of, “In response to the attacks perpetrated – and the continuing threat posed – by al Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces, Congress has authorized the President to use all necessary and appropriate force against those groups” he goes on to explain how the rules and laws of the country are no longer a hindrance to this or future administrations.
Now surely we have heard most of this from George W Bush and his primary henchman, Dick Cheney. However, when Holder starts into his rationale for legal assassinations of American citizens, it becomes something altogether new. He says,
“Furthermore, it is entirely lawful – under both United States law and applicable law of war principles – to target specific senior operational leaders of al Qaeda and associated forces. This is not a novel concept. In fact, during World War II, the United States tracked the plane flying Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto – the commander of Japanese forces in the attack on Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Midway – and shot it down specifically because he was on board. As I explained to the Senate Judiciary Committee following the operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the same rules apply today.
Some have called such operations “assassinations.” They are not, and the use of that loaded term is misplaced. Assassinations are unlawful killings. Here, for the reasons I have given, the U.S. government’s use of lethal force in self defense against a leader of al Qaeda or an associated force who presents an imminent threat of violent attack would not be unlawful — and therefore would not violate the Executive Order banning assassination or criminal statutes.
Now, it is an unfortunate but undeniable fact that some of the threats we face come from a small number of United States citizens who have decided to commit violent attacks against their own country from abroad. Based on generations-old legal principles and Supreme Court decisions handed down during World War II, as well as during this current conflict, it’s clear that United States citizenship alone does not make such individuals immune from being targeted. But it does mean that the government must take into account all relevant constitutional considerations with respect to United States citizens – even those who are leading efforts to kill innocent Americans. Of these, the most relevant is the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, which says that the government may not deprive a citizen of his or her life without due process of law.”
And then the cherry on the cake; I give you, Obama’s Supplemental to the Bush Doctrine of Pre-Emptive War:
“The evaluation of whether an individual presents an “imminent threat” incorporates considerations of the relevant window of opportunity to act, the possible harm that missing the window would cause to civilians, and the likelihood of heading off future disastrous attacks against the United States. As we learned on 9/11, al Qaeda has demonstrated the ability to strike with little or no notice – and to cause devastating casualties. Its leaders are continually planning attacks against the United States, and they do not behave like a traditional military – wearing uniforms, carrying arms openly, or massing forces in preparation for an attack. Given these facts, the Constitution does not require the President to delay action until some theoretical end-stage of planning – when the precise time, place, and manner of an attack become clear. Such a requirement would create an unacceptably high risk that our efforts would fail, and that Americans would be killed.”
What’s that sound? Oh, it’s the deafening silence of the left.
Chad (The Left) Shue