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Tue Feb 5, 2013, 10:31 PM

"Chilling Legal Memo From Obama DOJ Justifies Assassination of US Citizens" - Glenn Greenwald

Chilling Legal Memo From Obama DOJ Justifies Assassination of US Citizens
The president's partisan lawyers purport to vest him with the most extreme power a political leader can seize

by Glenn Greenwald


The most extremist power any political leader can assert is the power to target his own citizens for execution without any charges or due process, far from any battlefield. The Obama administration has not only asserted exactly that power in theory, but has exercised it in practice. In September 2011, it killed US citizen Anwar Awlaki in a drone strike in Yemen, along with US citizen Samir Khan, and then, in circumstances that are still unexplained, two weeks later killed Awlaki's 16-year-old American son Abdulrahman with a separate drone strike in Yemen.

Since then, senior Obama officials including Attorney General Eric Holder and John Brennan, Obama's top terrorism adviser and his current nominee to lead the CIA, have explicitly argued that the president is and should be vested with this power. Meanwhile, a Washington Post article from October reported that the administration is formally institutionalizing this president's power to decide who dies under the Orwellian title "disposition matrix".

...

What has made these actions all the more radical is the absolute secrecy with which Obama has draped all of this. Not only is the entire process carried out solely within the Executive branch - with no checks or oversight of any kind - but there is zero transparency and zero accountability. The president's underlings compile their proposed lists of who should be executed, and the president - at a charming weekly event dubbed by White House aides as "Terror Tuesday" - then chooses from "baseball cards" and decrees in total secrecy who should die. The power of accuser, prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner are all consolidated in this one man, and those powers are exercised in the dark.

In fact, The Most Transparent Administration Ever™ has been so fixated on secrecy that they have refused even to disclose the legal memoranda prepared by Obama lawyers setting forth their legal rationale for why the president has this power. During the Bush years, when Bush refused to disclose the memoranda from his Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) that legally authorized torture, rendition, warrantless eavesdropping and the like, leading Democratic lawyers such as Dawn Johnsen (Obama's first choice to lead the OLC) vehemently denounced this practice as a grave threat, warning that "the Bush Administration's excessive reliance on 'secret law' threatens the effective functioning of American democracy" and "the withholding from Congress and the public of legal interpretations by the (OLC) upsets the system of checks and balances between the executive and legislative branches of government."

But when it comes to Obama's assassination power, this is exactly what his administration has done. It has repeatedly refused to disclose the principal legal memoranda prepared by Obama OLC lawyers that justified his kill list. It is, right now, vigorously resisting lawsuits from the New York Times and the ACLU to obtain that OLC memorandum. In sum, Obama not only claims he has the power to order US citizens killed with no transparency, but that even the documents explaining the legal rationale for this power are to be concealed. He's maintaining secret law on the most extremist power he can assert.

...

Much much more at link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/feb/05/obama-kill-list-doj-memo

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Arrow 10 replies Author Time Post
Reply "Chilling Legal Memo From Obama DOJ Justifies Assassination of US Citizens" - Glenn Greenwald (Original post)
Catherina Feb 2013 OP
mwrguy Feb 2013 #1
DonCoquixote Feb 2013 #2
R. Daneel Olivaw Feb 2013 #3
joelz Feb 2013 #4
jsr Feb 2013 #5
Demo_Chris Feb 2013 #6
struggle4progress Feb 2013 #7
struggle4progress Feb 2013 #8
Macoy51 Feb 2013 #9
Jesus Malverde Feb 2014 #10

Response to Catherina (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 11:06 PM

1. What a drama queen

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Response to Catherina (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 11:07 PM

2. as much as I hate greenwald

and as much as I know he would not be at all sincere if the companies he loves were to start killing people, I will admit,he is right. Obama, you fucked up, because i know neither a Hillary or jeb will roll this back, and because I know it will be misused.

Now, do i think that a lot of these American citizens are scum that invoke lady Liberty, but then work to bring about a world where Non Muslims are criminals, yes, but they are still Americans, and you cannot dilute the rights of one American without diltuing all rights.

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Response to Catherina (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 12:00 AM

3. Now where else have I heard of another leader using this kind of absolute power?


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Response to Catherina (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 01:06 AM

4. Sorry but this is murder

As Leon Panetta recently confirmed, the President makes the ultimate decision as to whether the American will be killed: “ 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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Response to Catherina (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 01:09 AM

5. Excellent write-up

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Response to Catherina (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 01:45 AM

6. We've come a long way. It wont stop here unless we stop it

 

It never does.

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Response to Catherina (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 02:35 AM

7. Greenwald manages, as usual, to shed no real light whatsoever on a messy political problem: namely,

what is the appropriate response to warfare conducted by non-state organizations?

That warfare presents a serious political problem for the United States is clearly shown by the fact that, there has been no official declaration of war by Congress since late 1941, though the US has engaged in military operations regularly around the world since then, and some of those operations have been prolonged and substantial. The Vietnam and Iraq wars are merely the most extensive and costly examples of this Congressional preference to defer to the Executive

The 9/11 attacks complicated the problem considerably. It would have been preferable to pursue the perpetrators criminally. But conservative ideologues were determined to strengthen Executive powers, so engaged in an extensive propaganda campaign to describe the President under all circumstances as Commander-in-Chief and to promote a widespread war to consolidate those powers. The political effects are still with us, as rightwingers in Congress have repeatedly blocked attempts to try persons held at Guantanamo in civilian courts and under civilian law: thus, the military model of response to warfare conducted by non-state organizations still has significant political force. And actions by the prior administration, allegedly in response to 9/11, also obviously caused long-term damage at an international level

Further successful attacks within the US by non-state organizations may have serious political effects within the US. The Executive is widely understood to bear responsibility for preventing such attacks, and the current political climate appears to require a military approach. Conceptualizing the issue as foreign warfare precludes attention to due process issues: under this model, persons abroad planning attacks on US targets are not criminals but enemy soldiers, in which case their American citizenship is irrelevant on the battlefield, though it would become relevant if they were captured

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Response to Catherina (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 02:39 AM

8. A Just Act of War


By JACK L. GOLDSMITH
Published: September 30, 2011

ON Friday, an American drone flying over northern Yemen killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula ... What made this strike unusual ... was that Mr. Awlaki was an American citizen, having been born in New Mexico ...

The United States did not claim the power to kill Mr. Awlaki because of his political views or because he was a mere member of a Qaeda affiliate against which Congress had authorized the use of force. It claimed the power to kill him, rather, because he was an operational leader of a Qaeda affiliate that had been involved in terrorist plots on American soil and because he was hiding in a country that lacked the capacity to arrest him and bring him to justice.

Nor does the killing of Mr. Awlaki mean, as Glenn Greenwald charged in Salon, that “due-process-free assassination of U.S. citizens is now reality.” An attack on an enemy soldier during war is not an assassination. During World War II, the United States targeted and killed Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto, the architect of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Moreover, the United States knew there were many American citizens in the German Army during World War II, but it did not alter its bombing practices as a result ...

... these procedures are wholly unprecedented in war, and they exceed anything the law requires ... The president has a duty to keep the country safe. So far, it appears, the Obama administration is exercising this duty lawfully and with caution. Such caution, however, does not guarantee legitimacy at home or abroad ...

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/01/opinion/a-just-act-of-war.html?_r=0

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Response to Catherina (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 06:49 AM

9. Drop the Secrecy

 

I have no problem with the theory behind the President ordering drone strikes to kill Americans who are a threat. What I do have a problem is the secrecy of the process. What criteria is use? What is the level of evidence needed to “convict” a person of death? What are the safeguards? Is anyone in the Administration assigned the role of defender or devil’s advocate for the accused?

If Bush did this, we would all be up in arms, we can, and should be better than this.


Macoy

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