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Obama Admin: Pres can kill Americans with no charges, trial, and without telling.

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Obama Admin: Pres can kill Americans with no charges, trial, and without telling.

Old 09-28-10, 08:34 PM
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Obama Admin: Pres can kill Americans with no charges, trial, and without telling.

http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/gl...ecy/index.html

Obama argues his assassination program is a "state secret"
By Glenn Greenwald


At this point, I didn't believe it was possible, but the Obama administration has just reached an all-new low in its abysmal civil liberties record. In response to the lawsuit filed by Anwar Awlaki's father asking a court to enjoin the President from assassinating his son, a U.S. citizen, without any due process, the administration late last night, according to The Washington Post, filed a brief asking the court to dismiss the lawsuit without hearing the merits of the claims. That's not surprising: both the Bush and Obama administrations have repeatedly insisted that their secret conduct is legal but nonetheless urge courts not to even rule on its legality. But what's most notable here is that one of the arguments the Obama DOJ raises to demand dismissal of this lawsuit is "state secrets": in other words, not only does the President have the right to sentence Americans to death with no due process or charges of any kind, but his decisions as to who will be killed and why he wants them dead are "state secrets," and thus no court may adjudicate their legality.

A very intense case of food poisoning in New York on Thursday, combined with my traveling home all night last night, prevents me from writing much about this until tomorrow (and it's what rendered the blog uncharacteristically silent for the last two days). But I would hope that nobody needs me or anyone else to explain why this assertion of power is so pernicious -- at least as pernicious as any power asserted during the Bush/Cheney years. If the President has the power to order American citizens killed with no due process, and to do so in such complete secrecy that no courts can even review his decisions, then what doesn't he have the power to do? Just for the moment, I'll note that The New York Times' Charlie Savage, two weeks ago, wrote about the possibility that Obama might raise this argument, and quoted the far-right, Bush-supporting, executive-power-revering lawyer David Rivkin as follows:


The government's increasing use of the state secrets doctrine to shield its actions from judicial review has been contentious. Some officials have argued that invoking it in the Awlaki matter, about which so much is already public, would risk a backlash. David Rivkin, a lawyer in the White House of President George H. W. Bush, echoed that concern.

"I'm a huge fan of executive power, but if someone came up to you and said the government wants to target you and you can't even talk about it in court to try to stop it, thatís too harsh even for me," he said.


Having debated him before, I genuinely didn't think it was possible for any President to concoct an assertion of executive power and secrecy that would be excessive and alarming to David Rivkin, but Barack Obama managed to do that, too. Obama's now asserting a power so radical -- the right to kill American citizens and do so in total secrecy, beyond even the reach of the courts -- that it's "too harsh even for" one of the most far-right War on Terror cheerleading-lawyers in the nation. But that power is certainly not "too harsh" for the kind-hearted Constitutional Scholar we elected as President, nor for his hordes of all-justifying supporters soon to place themselves to the right of David Rivkin as they explain why this is all perfectly justified. One other thing, as always: vote Democrat, because the Republicans are scary!

* * * * *

The same Post article quotes a DOJ spokesman as saying that Awlaki "should surrender to American authorities and return to the United States, where he will be held accountable for his actions." But he's not been charged with any crimes, let alone indicted for any. The President has been trying to kill him for the entire year without any of that due process. And now the President refuses even to account to an American court for those efforts to kill this American citizen on the ground that the President's unilateral imposition of the death penalty is a "state secret." And, indeed, American courts -- at Obama's urging -- have been upholding that sort of a "state secrecy" claim even when it comes to war crimes such as torture and rendition. Does that sound like a political system to which any sane, rational person would "surrender"?

Marcy Wheeler has more on other aspects of the DOJ's arguments, and I'll have more tomorrow as well.



UPDATE: As a reminder: Obama supporters who are dutifully insisting that the President not only has the right to order American citizens killed without due process, but to do so in total secrecy, on the ground that Awlaki is a Terrorist and Traitor, are embracing those accusations without having the slightest idea whether they're actually true. All they know is that Obama has issued these accusations, which is good enough for them. That's the authoritarian mind, by definition: if the Leader accuses a fellow citizen of something, then it's true -- no trial or any due process at all is needed and there is no need even for judicial review before the decreed sentence is meted out, even when the sentence is death.

For those reciting the "Awlaki-is-a-traitor" mantra, there's also the apparently irrelevant matter that Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution (the document which these same Obama supporters pretended to care about during the Bush years) provides that "No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court." Treason is a crime that the Constitution specifically requires be proven with due process in court, not by unilateral presidential decree. And that's to say nothing of the fact that the same document -- the Constitution -- expressly forbids the deprivation of life "without due process of law." This one sentence from the Post article nicely summarizes the state of Obama's civil liberties record:


The Obama administration has cited the state-secrets argument in at least three cases since taking office - in defense of Bush-era warrantless wiretapping, surveillance of an Islamic charity, and the torture and rendition of CIA prisoners.

And now, in this case, Obama uses this secrecy and immunity weapon not to shield Bush lawlessness from judicial review, but his own.
This isn't terrifying at all
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Old 09-28-10, 08:38 PM
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Re: Obama Admin: Pres can kill Americans with no charges, trial, and without telling.

Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution (the document which these same Obama supporters pretended to care about during the Bush years)
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Old 09-28-10, 08:40 PM
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Re: Obama Admin: Pres can kill Americans with no charges, trial, and without telling.

Wait, it's supposed to be shocking to find something that would make David Rivkin criticize Obama?
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Old 09-28-10, 09:15 PM
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Re: Obama Admin: Pres can kill Americans with no charges, trial, and without telling.

Originally Posted by starman9000 View Post
Wait, it's supposed to be shocking to find something that would make David Rivkin criticize Obama?
No, it's shocking to find something that makes Glenn Greenwald freak out.
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Old 09-28-10, 09:22 PM
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Re: Obama Admin: Pres can kill Americans with no charges, trial, and without telling.

He's an internet opinion writer. His freaking out is shocking?
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Old 09-28-10, 09:53 PM
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Re: Obama Admin: Pres can kill Americans with no charges, trial, and without telling.

Thought experiment for Glenn Greenwald: it's October 1944, and in Washington, DC, FDR meets with the top brass. Joseph Goebbels is going to be in the Belgian countryside and a plan is drawn up to send bombers to destroy his villa. Suddenly, an aide rushes into the room. Something shocking has happened! A clerk in Brooklyn has discovered Goebbels' birth certificate. It turns out he was bron in new York, though his family returned to Prussia when he was just 8 months old.

Should the President scrap the plan to kill Goebbels?
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Old 09-28-10, 09:55 PM
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You should especially kill people bron in New York.
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Old 09-28-10, 10:58 PM
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Old 09-28-10, 11:15 PM
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Re: Obama Admin: Pres can kill Americans with no charges, trial, and without telling.

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
Thought experiment for Glenn Greenwald: it's October 1944, and in Washington, DC, FDR meets with the top brass. Joseph Goebbels is going to be in the Belgian countryside and a plan is drawn up to send bombers to destroy his villa. Suddenly, an aide rushes into the room. Something shocking has happened! A clerk in Brooklyn has discovered Goebbels' birth certificate. It turns out he was bron in new York, though his family returned to Prussia when he was just 8 months old.

Should the President scrap the plan to kill Goebbels?
Only if FDR is Bush.
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Old 09-28-10, 11:58 PM
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Re: Obama Admin: Pres can kill Americans with no charges, trial, and without telling.

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
Thought experiment for Glenn Greenwald: it's October 1944, and in Washington, DC, FDR meets with the top brass. Joseph Goebbels is going to be in the Belgian countryside and a plan is drawn up to send bombers to destroy his villa. Suddenly, an aide rushes into the room. Something shocking has happened! A clerk in Brooklyn has discovered Goebbels' birth certificate. It turns out he was bron in new York, though his family returned to Prussia when he was just 8 months old.

Should the President scrap the plan to kill Goebbels?
Goebbels was born in Rheydt.
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Old 09-29-10, 12:34 AM
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Re: Obama Admin: Pres can kill Americans with no charges, trial, and without telling.

Godwinned already?
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Old 09-29-10, 12:55 AM
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Re: Obama Admin: Pres can kill Americans with no charges, trial, and without telling.

Originally Posted by RoyalTea View Post
Goebbels was born in Rheydt.
That's why I called it a "thought experiment" and not "an accurate retelling of actual historical events."
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Old 09-29-10, 08:05 AM
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Re: Obama Admin: Pres can kill Americans with no charges, trial, and without telling.

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
That's why I called it a "thought experiment" and not "an accurate retelling of actual historical events."
Then why stop at Goebbels? What if Adolph Hitler was born in Cincinnati? What if Joseph Stalin was born in Topeka? What if Osama Bin Laden was born in Tuscaloosa?

WHAT IF A REPUBLICAN ADMINISTRATION SAID THE EXACT SAME THING YOU'RE DEFENDING RIGHT NOW?
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Old 09-29-10, 08:47 AM
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Re: Obama Admin: Pres can kill Americans with no charges, trial, and without telling.

Change.
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Old 09-29-10, 09:34 AM
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Re: Obama Admin: Pres can kill Americans with no charges, trial, and without telling.

Originally Posted by RoyalTea View Post
Then why stop at Goebbels? What if Adolph Hitler was born in Cincinnati? What if Joseph Stalin was born in Topeka? What if Osama Bin Laden was born in Tuscaloosa?

WHAT IF A REPUBLICAN ADMINISTRATION SAID THE EXACT SAME THING YOU'RE DEFENDING RIGHT NOW?
I didn't defend a damned thing, I asked a question. And I don't appreciate your suggesting that my doing so was motivated solely by partisanship.

For the record, I think the AUMF allows us to go after a self-confessed al Qaeda member with lethal force and I thought the same thing when George Bush was president.

Now, those of you getting up in arms about this -- how would you feel if it were a high-level Nazi during World War II?
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Old 09-29-10, 09:43 AM
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Re: Obama Admin: Pres can kill Americans with no charges, trial, and without telling.

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
Now, those of you getting up in arms about this -- how would you feel if it were a high-level Nazi during World War II?
I'm still trying to figure out how a Goebbels born in the U.S. wouldn't have been stripped of his citizenship by 1944.
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Old 09-29-10, 09:47 AM
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Re: Obama Admin: Pres can kill Americans with no charges, trial, and without telling.

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
Now, those of you getting up in arms about this -- how would you feel if it were a high-level Nazi during World War II?

Oh, here we go, the right-wingers like Jasonf with their "Islamofascist" outlook.

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Old 09-29-10, 10:37 AM
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Re: Obama Admin: Pres can kill Americans with no charges, trial, and without telling.

Originally Posted by wendersfan View Post
I'm still trying to figure out how a Goebbels born in the U.S. wouldn't have been stripped of his citizenship by 1944.
What does it take to strip someone of their citizenship these days? Maybe we could just do that and then this whole thing becomes moot.
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Old 09-29-10, 10:37 AM
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Re: Obama Admin: Pres can kill Americans with no charges, trial, and without telling.

Originally Posted by orangecrush View Post
What does it take to strip someone of their citizenship these days? Maybe we could just do that and then this whole thing becomes moot.
If you're Joe Lieberman, preferably, nothing.
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Old 09-29-10, 10:42 AM
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Re: Obama Admin: Pres can kill Americans with no charges, trial, and without telling.

Originally Posted by orangecrush View Post
What does it take to strip someone of their citizenship these days?
I'd like to think being a high-ranking official of a country that has declared war on the U.S. might be sufficient grounds. But I wouldn't want to advocate anything rash.
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Old 09-29-10, 10:51 AM
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Re: Obama Admin: Pres can kill Americans with no charges, trial, and without telling.

I assume orangecrush's question was more along the lines of "What do we need to do to strip al-Awlaki of his citizenship," not "What would we have needed to have done to strip Goebbels of his citizenship."
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Old 09-29-10, 11:00 AM
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Re: Obama Admin: Pres can kill Americans with no charges, trial, and without telling.

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
I assume orangecrush's question was more along the lines of "What do we need to do to strip al-Awlaki of his citizenship," not "What would we have needed to have done to strip Goebbels of his citizenship."
Should we really let our citizens be Nazi officials? I donít think we should.
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Old 09-29-10, 11:04 AM
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Re: Obama Admin: Pres can kill Americans with no charges, trial, and without telling.

Originally Posted by orangecrush View Post
Should we really let our citizens be Nazi officials? I donít think we should.


I thought we were through with the Cheney-bashing around here.

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Old 09-29-10, 11:33 AM
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Re: Obama Admin: Pres can kill Americans with no charges, trial, and without telling.

Originally Posted by orangecrush View Post
Should we really let our citizens be Nazi officials? I donít think we should.
What a refreshing stance!
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Old 09-29-10, 11:37 AM
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Re: Obama Admin: Pres can kill Americans with no charges, trial, and without telling.

Kill him!!

And then strip him of his citizenship.
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