Assassin In Chief?

Angry Obama SC Assassin in Chief?

Exercising a power that no prior president ever thought he possessed — a power that no prior president is known to have exercised — President Obama admitted that he ordered the execution of American citizens, not on a battlefield, based on his belief that they were involved in terrorist activities.  It is known that at least three U.S. citizens, including a 16-year old boy, were killed on the president’s order in drone strikes in Yemen in 2011.

As the worldwide drone program ramps up, there have been increasing calls for the president to reveal the basis for his claimed authority.  Only a few weeks ago, U.S. District Court Judge Colleen McMahon denied both the ACLU’s and New York Times‘ requests under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain any and all legal documents prepared in support of the president’s claim of unilateral powers.  While Judge McMahon was concerned that the documents “implicate serious issues about the limits on the power of the Executive Branch under the Constitution and laws of the United States, and about whether we are indeed a nation of laws not of men,” she felt constrained by precedent to withhold them.  Now, a bipartisan group of 11 senators has written a letter to president Obama asking for “any and all legal opinions” that describe the basis for his claimed authority to “deliberately kill American citizens.”

However, not until the Senate began gathering information for hearings on John Brennan’s confirmation as CIA director, to begin February 7, has public attention finally been focused on this remarkable presidential usurpation of power.

On the night of February 4, the walls of secrecy were breached when NBC News released a leaked U.S. Justice Department White Paper entitled “Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a U.S. Citizen Who is a Senior Operational Leader of Al-Qa’ida or An Associated Force.”  Now we can see why the Department of Justice has been so reluctant to share the basis for its legal analysis.  It is deeply flawed — based on a perverse view of the Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause.  Additionally, the white paper completely ignores the procedural protections expressly provided in the Constitution’s Third Article — those specifically designed to prohibit the president from serving as prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner.

The white paper does not seek to delimit the federal power to kill citizens, but simply sets out a category of “targeted killing” of American citizens off the battlefield on foreign soil which it deems to be clearly authorized.  Moreover, this power is not vested exclusively in the president, or even the secretary of defense, or even officials within the Department of Defense — rather, it can be relied on by other senior officials of unspecified rank elsewhere in government.

According to the white paper, there are only three requirements to order a killing.  First, “an informed high-level official of the U.S. government has determined that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States.”  Second, capture is “infeasible.”  And third, the ” operation would be conducted in a manner consistent with the applicable law of war principles.”  Indeed, from the white paper, it is not clear why killings of U.S. citizens on American soil would be judged by a different standard.

Mimicking a judicial opinion, the White Paper employs pragmatic tests developed by the courts to supplant the plain meaning of the Fifth Amendment Due Process and Fourth Amendment Search and Seizure texts.  Balancing away the constitutionally protected interests of the citizen in life, liberty, and property against the more important “‘realities’ of the conflict and the weight of the government’s interest in protecting its citizens from an imminent attack,” the Justice Department lawyers have produced a document worthy of the King Council’s Court of Star Chamber — concluding that the U.S. Constitution would not require the government to provide notice of charges, or a right to be heard, “before using lethal force” on a U.S. citizen suspected of terrorist activity against his country.  How very convenient.  The Obama administration lawyers appear to have forgotten that the Star Chamber was abolished by the English Parliament in 1641 in order to restore the rule of law adjudicated by an independent judiciary, terminating the rule of men administered by the king’s courtiers.

Also, conspicuously missing from the Justice Department’s constitutional analysis is any recognition that the Founders already balanced the life, liberty, and property interests of an American citizen suspected of “levying war against [the United States], or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort,” and provided them the specific procedural protections in Article III of  the Constitution.  When a U.S. citizen is suspected of treason, the constitutional remedy is not to invent new crimes subject to the summary execution at the pleasure of the president and his attorneys.  In Federalist No. 43, James Madison proclaimed that the Treason Clause would protect citizens “from new-fangled and artificial treasons … by inserting a constitutional definition of the crime, fixing the proof necessary for conviction of it[.]“  To that end, the Constitution does not permit the Obama lawyers to invent an elastically defined offense of “an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States,” in substitution for the constitutionally concrete definition of “levying war against [the United States], or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”

Moreover, Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution requires trial in “open court” — not in some secret “war room” in an undisclosed location.  That same section of Article III requires proof by “the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession” — not by a unilateral “determin[ation] that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of an attack against the United States.”  Finally, as is true of “all crimes,” Article III, Section 2 requires “trial … by jury” on a charge of treason, not trial by some unidentified “high-level official of the U.S. government[,]” no matter how well-”informed” he may be.  In short, the Constitution provides that an American citizen must be tried and punished according to the judicial process provided for the crime of treason, not according to some newfangled and artificial executive “process” fashioned by nameless collection of lawyers.

These nameless lawyers have also ignored the Justice Department’s own venerable precedents.  The White Paper relies on the “laws of war” — but laws of war do not control here.  On August 21, 1798, U.S. Attorney General Charles Lee — serving under President John Adams — directed to the U.S. secretary of state an official opinion in which he determined that in the undeclared state of war between France and the United States, “France is our enemy; and to aid, assist, and abet that nation in her maritime warfare, will be treason in a citizen[, who] may be tried and punished according to our laws[, not like a French subject, who must be] treated according to the laws of war.”

It is a measure of how far we have fallen as a nation — not only that President Obama asserts and exercises such a terrible power, but that only 11 U.S. senators would be willing to affix their names to a letter to ask the Obama administration to provide its legal reasoning.  If John Brennan is confirmed as CIA director, and the killings of U.S. citizens continue based on this whitewash of a white paper, then the U.S. Senate will have yielded up to the president without even a fight the power to kill citizens without judicial due process — a power that has been unknown in the English-speaking world for at least 370 years.

 

Herb Titus taught constitutional law for 26 years, concluding his academic career as founding dean of Regent Law School.  Bill Olson served in three positions in the Reagan administration.  They now practice constitutional law together, defending against government excess, at William J. Olson, P.C.  They filed an amicus curiae brief supporting a preliminary injunction in the Chris Hedges challenge to the detention provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (“NDAA”), addressing the Treason Clause, and also filed an amicus curiae brief in that case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.  They can be reached at wjo@mindspring.com or twitter.com/olsonlaw?

 

Photo credit: SS&SS (Creative Commons)

 

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Comments

  1. WE THE PEOPLE cannot allow Obama is excerise this type of power. It seems that now he believes he is GOD. I hope that very soon GOD will exercise HIS power over the Satan, Obama'

  2. Edwardkoziol says:

    I will never be for anything Obunghole does but as long as he kills them muslim terrorists over there it save bringing them back and having those commies in the ACLU claim they have all these rights.The only rights these terrorist have is a bullet in the head.The ACLU & the Southern Poverty law group want is for us to read these Americans there rights,as far as I'm concerned thet have none.I will say with an asshole like Obunghole you'd have to wonder if the spook would do the killing in America.After all the Clintons did it remember Vince Foster.

    • Seeks_the_truth says:

      It's not so much of using drones to take out terrorists, the main issue is his killing of AMERICAN citizens. The kaffir is, in effect, playing judge, jury and executioner. In fact, it's not just oblameo, but ANYONE in the gubmint can order a kill!
      NO ONE should have this kind of power.
      This means watch your skies for a drone. He BELIEVES he has the power to kill at will on just his word.
      No proof needed….

  3. Seeks_the_truth says:

    This is a very complex situation to just take "sides" on.
    If you know me, I have no love for oblameo. But… There is some, some, validity to his thoughts.
    We shouldn't be afraid to kill a terrorist who it is clear holds imminent danger to America, even if they are an American citizen. That's where my agreement ends. Without obvious and undeniable proof, an American is entitled to be tried in a court of law in front of a group of their peers, and they should be.
    To me, what's the most disturbing in this whole fiasco is that ANYONE can order the kill. It's not limited to just foreign soil either.
    The many who have been killed by drones, has the evidence been shown that they WERE a threat to America? Isn't that available with a FOIA request?
    With the outcry that waterboarding, or EIC, is torture and is illegal, then murder by drone strikes should also be criminal. Waterboarding gave us the information to get Bin Laden. Drone strikes give us no chance at information.
    As it stands, oblameo has MURDERED an American citizen 'child' who was NOT an imminent threat to America. He IS an assassin. He SHOULD be brought up on 1st degree MURDER charges.
    I also find it insulting that an American can be murdered at the whim of this liar-n-cheat without a trial or undeniable evidence, but yet camel jockeys that ARE terrorists who HAVE ATTACKED America sits in a posh life whining that he has 'red marks' from his handcuffs, and those who are guarding him MIGHT be disciplined!
    Charge oblameo with MURDER!

    • Edwardkoziol says:

      But when we capture them the ACLU jumps in and wants these terrorist to have lawyers and what ever.Even though they are supposedly american citizens when you plot against the US you give up your citizenship.John Walker Linn is a man who will be let out of jail and can go back to his terrorist army.Seeks just look at how he got a liberal judge to let the mudslimes pray togethrer in a federal prison and we won't let children pray in a public school.You can't get anyone to look at his birth certificate and who will charge him with murder.

      • Seeks_the_truth says:

        My point is, this is a slippery slope. When will we start seeing these drones killing American citizens on our soil when that citizen is deemed a 'terrorist' when they have an AR-15 and a garden. Or they have spoken out against oblameo? That is what the outcome will be.
        I agree just kill anyone who really is against America, we just have to be concerned for our safety.

        • Edwardkoziol says:

          Hell we already have Didn't the Clintons have Vince Foster killed because he was going to rat them out When Slick was governor of Arkansas wasn't there a lot of unexplained murders of his so called friends? Killer Ted Kennedy wasn't even president when he killed MaryJo most likely because he knocked her up.i guess what I'm trying to say is in this country you don't need drones all you need is the Secret Service or an Eric Holder.

          • Seeks_the_truth says:

            Oh no doubt we saw many "deaths" under Clinton. But then we see that all the time under any Pres.
            What should really be a concern is this is IN THE OPEN!
            I always did wonder how that pregnant woman committed suicide by shooting herself in the back under Clinton though….

  4. This out-of-control Dictator Wannabe HAS GOT TO GO!!!!!

    Is the American Public SO BLIND as to CONTINUE ALLOWING Obummer to have HIS WAY WITH THE ENTIRE UNITED STATES????

    Between the "CLOWN-IN-CHEIF"…AND His "K-MART BLUE-LIGHT SPECIAL" SPOUSE..(Otherwise known as the "CLOWN PRINCESS OF TOTALLY EMBARRASSING WARDROBES")…Not to mention the TOTAL RIDICULE SHE HAS DISPLAYED AMONG MANY "AFFAIRS-OF-STATE"…Accompanying OTHER COUNTRIES "FIRST LADIES", (Who Look Absolutely Stunning, …. Leaving OUR "So-Called Lady" Looking Like The "First Fool!!"….. NOT To Mention Looking Like an Over-Aged, Overweight, and Overly "Made-Up" STREETWALKER!!!!

    so…. NOW THIS COUNTRY STANDS (ALTHOUGH MOSTLY IGNORANTLY) JUST ABOUT READY TO ALLOW A TOTAL MORON, WHO DESIRES TO CREATE HIS OWN…PERSONAL STANDING ARMY …USING OUR OWN TAXES, BUYING OVER HALF A BILLION ROUNDS OF .40 CALIBER HOLLOW POINTS…(TO BE ABLE TO USE AGAINST OUR OWN CITIZENS!!!!! ) <FONT SIZE=18> TO ACTUALLY USE AGAINST US!!!! </FONT>

    THE JUDICIAL, AS WELL AS CONGRESS IS TOTALLY "SACKLESS"

    • Has anyone googled the Down Low Club? michelle is know as a beard, a cover for a gay man who wants to get ahead in this world. as jeremiaj wright put it, a beard is a woman that no straight man would want, they are ugly and they call them "heifer's"! as a first lady { to me she's no where being a lady} she has embarrassed the WH and the American citizen's by going on national tv and doing push ups! she wants to make our kids eat her way, but from the look of her, she's not following what she preache's. obama and michelle are both disgusting, and they are pulling off the greatest scam this country has ever seen! be sure to check out the Down Low Club, very interesting.

  5. IF THIS IS NOT BEING LIKE HITLERTHEN I MUST BE DAY DREAMING

  6. disgusted says:

    Ok…….so let me get this straight…..this igger wants to murder anyone he deems to be a “threat” to the United States. Hmmmm, isn’t this kinda, sorta, a whole lot hypocritical to anyone other than myself? HE is an IMMINENT THREAT TO US ALL! So, why is HE allowed to breathe, while he decides to MURDER at will? He is GUILTY of more crimes than Aunt Jemimah has pancakes, and Mrs Butterworth has the syrup to cover them with! He is a CRIMINAL, a TRAITOR, A mu SLIME, who ARE THE ENEMY, as we all witnessed on September 11, 2001, yet, he he and this ugly female ape are, as “first” whatevers, allowed to do whatever they please, including, but not excluding anything else, INCLUDING OUTRIGHT MURDER! And these same two primate escapees, who are always going on about how much they “care” about the children, here we have this liar, thug, criminal, traitor, ILLEGAL ALIEN, sitting in the White House, ordering the MURDER OF A CHILD! A CHILD! And, not one voice is raised in protest about even this murder of a child!!! NOT ONE! This liar, this ENEMY of the UNITED STATES sits in our White House, destroying everything ABOUT THE UNITED STATES AND THE CONSTITUTION, the LAW OF THE LAND, yet……he is “concerned” that someone is a “threat” to us! Well! He needs to take a long, hard and HONEST look in the mirror, because it is “The Man in The Mirror” who/which is, the GREATEST THREAT TO EVER THREATEN THIS NATION OF FREEDOM LOVING, BIBLE HOLDING, CHRISTIAN FOUNDED NATION! And NOWHERE IN OUR HISTORY, BY THE WAY, IS THERE ANYTHING REMOTELY A “rich mu SLIME” history! Maybe in his warped, and twisted perverted little pea brain there might be, but in REALITY, WE DO NOT HAVE A “rich SLIME” anything! Any fool, any INTELLIGENT OR HALF INTELLIGENT AMERICAN KNOWS A SLIME FOR WHAT THEY ARE, MURDERERS AND VIOLENT SATANIC DESTROYERS OF ALL THAT IS DECENT AND GOOD! Beauty, THEY DESPISE ANYTHING THAT IS BEAUTIFUL! No wonder this SLIME in office despises us so, we are A BEAUTIFUL NATION! Or, until he got his filthy evil, slimey hands on it, AMERICA WAS THE BEAUTIFUL! THIS BUTT UGLY PRIMATE WANTS TO MAKE IT AS UGLY AS HIS OWN BIRTHPLACE IS, AND AS FOUL AND AS DIRTY! Death from one end of the nation to the other, and this is his desire, his INTENT, TO REMAKE AMERICA INTO THE WASTELAND THAT HIS HOMELAND IS TODAY! This is the LEGACY OF ANY MU SLIME, DEATH AND DESTRUCTION! ASSAIN IN CHIEF? YOU BET HE IS AND SO MUCH MORE!!!!!!!!!!! He needs to be the Late, not so great, ASSASSIN IN THE HOLE!

    • You are forgetting the Colorado theater and the Newtown massacres , this Obama has the nerve to kill these people with the help of the C.I.A. and then want to take our guns using them as as an excuse!
      Look in your search box ,type in " C.I.A. Declassified documents feb. 1954" and see how the C.I.A. has used drugs and other means to make assasins out of ordinary people.. They are even better at it today.

  7. Hey folks contact your Congressman and senators and ask for Obamas impeachment.
    Ask for them to stop the United States Special Operations Command from training to kill U.S. citizens,they say they are training for deployment over seas but I don't think so.
    The Homeland Security dept. has been ordering over a BILLION rounds of ammo -for what? use against you and me. So far they have had "training "in South Carolina, N. Carolina Texas, California ,and Miami.
    In some cases they have pulled citizens out of cars and illegally searched cars and people,and when they complained ,they were told by the troops "Well try and stop me then!'

    • I contacted my senator,iff every one would call for obamas impeachment mabe it will happen. we have to keep the pressure on,for the good of all of us

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