Remember back in what was it – 2006 or thereabouts – when left-leaning critics of President Bush couldn’t stop talking about how nothing was more red, white, and blue than good old-fashioned American dissent? Why, our very country was founded by an act of dissent, didn’t you know! So back when Vice President Dick Cheney – routinely likened to Darth Vader and Voldemort – was running things, the very air was filled with cries of “not in our name” and all that, because it was so damned important that the United States not contravene its basic principles even in the name of self defense!
Those were good times, friends, and they stopped pretty much the minute that liberals and Democrats took control of the federal government. The antiwar movement disappeared once it became clear that Barack Obama wasn’t going to shut down Gitmo or stop bombing places or give a rat’s ass about that constitutional stuff he used to teach in law school.
By making clear that as a journalist he tries to see things first and foremost from the perspective of the powerful, Michael Tomasky helps to clarify why so many in the media are rushing to the president’s defense. They are entranced with power and the view from the top. “Presidents live with that responsibility [of protecting American lives] every day,” he writes. “If that responsibility were mine, I can’t honestly say what I’d do, and I don’t think anyone can.” Not all journalists are awed by power, of course, even on the right (National Review’s Jim Geraghty, for instance, asserts that this sort of thing of extra-judicial killing policy wouldn’t be cricket even under a GOP president).
This isn’t ultimately about ideological hypocrisy – of liberals changing their tune once their guy is in office – but something much more basic and much more disturbing. It reveals that for all their crowing about being watchdogs of all that is good and decent in society, when push comes to shove, too many journalists are ready and willing handmaidens to power – including the power to kill.
The Obama administration claims that the secret judgment of a single “well-informed high level administration official” meets the demands of due process and is sufficient justification to kill an American citizen suspected of working with terrorists. That procedure is entirely secret. Thus it’s impossible to know which rules the administration has established to protect due process and to determine how closely those rules are followed. The government needs the approval of a judge to detain a suspected terrorist. To kill one, it need only give itself permission.
You just can’t make this stuff up.
After stonewalling for more than a year federal judges and ordinary citizens who sought the revelation of its secret legal research justifying the presidential use of drones to kill persons overseas—even Americans—claiming the research was so sensitive and so secret that it could not be revealed without serious consequences, the government sent a summary of its legal memos to an NBC newsroom earlier this week.
This revelation will come as a great surprise, and not a little annoyance, to U.S. District Court Judge Colleen McMahon, who heard many hours of oral argument during which the government predicted gloom and doom if its legal research were subjected to public scrutiny. She very reluctantly agreed with the feds, but told them she felt caught in “a veritable Catch-22,” because the feds have created “a thicket of laws and precedents that effectively allow the executive branch of our government to proclaim as perfectly lawful certain actions that seem on their face incompatible with our Constitution and laws, while keeping the reasons for their conclusion a secret.”
She was writing about President Obama killing Americans and refusing to divulge the legal basis for claiming the right to do so. Now we know that basis.
. . .
Obama has argued that he can kill Americans whose deaths he believes will keep us all safer, without any due process whatsoever. No law authorizes that. His attorney general has argued that the president’s careful consideration of each target and the narrow use of deadly force are an adequate and constitutional substitute for due process. No court has ever approved that. And his national security adviser has argued that the use of drones is humane since they are “surgical” and only kill their targets. We know that is incorrect, as the folks who monitor all this say that 11 percent to 17 percent of the 2,300 drone-caused deaths have been those of innocent bystanders.
In sum, the original meaning of the due process clause is that the President cannot unilaterally kill U.S. citizens he thinks are potentially dangerous. Perhaps there are examples of historical practice that suggest an exception applicable to the present case (as there are obvious historical exceptions on the battlefield and for prevention of imminent harm). But the burden should be on those who want an exception to the text, and that burden shouldn’t be met merely by the claim that it would be more convenient to have such an exception.
Brennan’s idea of open and transparent government boils down to this: Trust us. That is what he means when he talks about explaining “the procedures, the practices, the processes, the approvals, [and] the reviews” that precede one of the president’s death warrants. Once people understand the “extensive process” that’s involved—behind closed doors and entirely within the executive branch—they will stop worrying about the Fifth Amendment and go back to their reality shows. The one thing Brennan and his boss adamantly refuse to discuss is the evidence that leads them to convict someone of a crime punishable by death. You just have to take their word that in any given case they have plenty.
Nothing to see here, move along.
Lamestream journalists are mostly hypocrites and budding fascists.
You can’t fix stupid.