Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Weekend Contributor
The Fifth Amendment protects all United States citizens by guaranteeing us all the right of due process of law. The Fifth Amendment is meant to ensure that the government has to at least prove to a court that a citizen is guilty of any crime that he or she is charged with.
“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” Cornell Law
Without the Fifth Amendment, the government could grab any citizen off the street and proceed to jail them or execute them without a trial of any kind where the accused could mount a defense to the government’s charges. It seems that the Obama Administration is once again in the process of deciding whether it will unilaterally execute an American citizen believed to living in Pakistan. Or at least, preparing us for a kill decision that they have already made.
“A little more than two weeks after reporting by the Associated Press revealed that the Obama administration was “considering” the extrajudicial targeted killing of a U.S. citizen it accuses of “terrorist activity” abroad, new and similar reporting on Friday by the New York Times is extending the president’s case for assassinating a man now known as Abdullah al-Shami, a U.S.-born American citizen believed to be living in Pakistan.
The Times reporting, like the AP story on February 10, has all the hallmarks of an intentionally leaked story in which White House officials spoke with reporters on condition of anonymity in exchange for access to information deemed suitable for public consumption.” Common Dreams
While I would not doubt that Mr. al-Shami may be a terrorist responsible for killing or aiding the killing of many due to his alleged involvement in IED activities in Afghanistan, even the Obama Administration has confirmed that he is a United States citizen. According to the Fifth Amendment, that would normally mean that Mr. al-Shami would be entitled to due process.
According to our post 9-11 reality, that means the decision on whether he will live or die for crimes that he has not been officially charged with, will be done in secret and without any due process as we know it. Or should I say, as we used to know it. As you will recall, the Obama Administration has executed at least 4 American citizens without due process.
“The debate over Mr. Shami’s fate is the first time that the Obama administration has discussed killing an American citizen abroad since Anwar al-Awlaki was killed in a C.I.A. drone strike in Yemen in September 2011. It comes less than a year after Mr. Obama announced new guidelines to tighten the rules for carrying out lethal drone operations. When the president announced the guidelines, during a speech in May in Washington, the White House acknowledged that four American citizens had been killed in drone strikes during Mr. Obama’s time in office.
According to the White House, only Mr. Awlaki had been targeted.
As it was in Mr. Awlaki’s case, the Justice Department has been enlisted to evaluate whether a lethal operation against Mr. Shami is legally justified, but it appears that the Obama administration remains divided on the issue. Several officials said that the C.I.A. has long advocated killing Mr. Shami, and that the Pentagon, while initially reluctant to put him on a target list, has more recently come to the C.I.A.’s position.
The debate over Mr. Shami’s fate is the first time that the Obama administration has discussed killing an American citizen abroad since Anwar al-Awlaki was killed in a C.I.A. drone strike in Yemen in September 2011. It comes less than a year after Mr. Obama announced new guidelines to tighten the rules for carrying out lethal drone operations. When the president announced the guidelines, during a speech in May in Washington, the White House acknowledged that four American citizens had been killed in drone strikes during Mr. Obama’s time in office.” New York Times
It really should disturb any and all citizens when anyone is adjudged guilty by any non-judicial process. It really does not matter if the targeted individual is a scum bag or a saint. If the government can kill any citizen without due process, does that not endanger us all? Does it make you warm and fuzzy that the guidelines announced by President Obama last year switched drone authority from the CIA to the Military?
Doesn’t the decision to execute or not execute still come down to the President or his/her underlings in place of a Judicial process guaranteed by the United States Constitution? I am unaware of any Fifth Amendment exceptions that allows for any President to essentially have the authority to override the Fifth Amendment.