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  • w.heinlein w.heinlein Feb 6, 2013 1:23 PM Flag

    Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely: Lord Action

    Long ago I posted here that rightwingers praising Bush's aggressive expansion of executive power should be careful what they wish for because sooner or later there would be a Democrat in the White House only too happy to accept the gift of unreviewable executive action. Lo and behold, we now have that Democrat. In one of the most extreme assertions of executive authority in American history, a power grab that dwarfs anything Bush did, the Obama administration claims the President can order the assassination of American citizens whenever and wherever he chooses, provided only that an unidentified somebody in the administraiton asserts that the targeted person is a terrorist. The President has already used the power to kill at least 3 American citizens with drone strikes, including a 16 year old boy, the son of Anwar Al-Awlaki, whom it also killed.

    The entire operation is cloaked in secrecy. How the targets are selected, who presents the President with his choice of victims, what criteria he uses in making those decisions are all unknown.

    I personally can't think of anything more un-American and more repulsive to the idea of a free country under the rule of law than this.

    Congress is now talking about limiting the President's freedom of action in this arena. It will require a coalition of Democrats and Republicans to rein him in. Maybe the two parties can get together on this one thing.

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    • Is this like The Terminator. I’ll be back

    • Only 3 killed in the past 4 years. How many of our soldiers who are also citizens were killed? How about the number of citizens keeled in death row? Why, just on Monday, we killed the old guy who took a boy hostage ... death penalty on convicts are okay even when a good percentage were later found to be framed or prejudicial during trial etc.

    • afoolandhismoneyshallsoonpart afoolandhismoneyshallsoonpart Feb 6, 2013 3:24 PM Flag

      Hate to say it but... Well said. I am a Dem and do not agree with the use of drones as the US has been using them and I found this equally disturbing. This is something both parties need to agree on and fix.

      • 1 Reply to afoolandhismoneyshallsoonpart
      • Exactly. Either the separation of powers means something or it doesn't. While virtually every President in our history has been frustrated from time to time by the Constitution's limits on his authority, very few have tried to rule in defiance of those provisions. Lincoln did it when he suspended the writ of habeas corpus, issued the emancipation proclamation, exiled Congressman Clement Vallandigham and took other steps of a near-dictatorial sort. But there was an actual civil war in progress on American soil and Lincoln took the position that as commander in chief he had the authority to do those things in wartime.

        Bush and Obama have asserted that the President has those powers and more even when there isn't a war going on, and that's a whole different ball of wax. The so-called "War on Terror" substitutes a metaphor for a Congressional declaration of war and it is on that substitution that Bush and Obama have built their attack on the separation of powers. Targeted assassination is just the latest step, although it is a dreadful one. It follows on indefinite detention, extraordinary rendition, universal eavesdropping, and other Bush era programs that Obama has embraced and expanded.

        Forty years ago, when writing legislation to rein in the Nixon administration, Senator Frank Church asked, "If the President can do this, what can't he do?" That's the question to ask about targeted assassination of American citizens: if Obama can do this, what can't he do?

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