Holder Promises To Kill Citizens With Care

Attorney General Eric Holder was at Northwestern University Law School yesterday explaining President Barack Obama’s claimed authority to kill any American if he unilaterally determines them to be a threat to the nation. The choice of a law school was a curious place for discussion of authoritarian powers. Obama has replaced the constitutional protections afforded to citizens with a “trust me” pledge that Holder repeated yesterday at Northwestern. The good news is that Holder promised not to hunt citizens for sport.

Holder proclaimed that “The president may use force abroad against a senior operational leader of a foreign terrorist organization with which the United States is at war — even if that individual happens to be a U.S. citizen.” The use of the word “abroad” is interesting since senior Administration officials have asserted that the President may kill an American anywhere and anytime, including the United States. Holder’s speech does not materially limit that claimed authority. He merely assures citizens that Obama will only kill those of us he finds abroad and a significant threat. Notably, Holder added “Our legal authority is not limited to the battlefields in Afghanistan.”

The Obama Administration continues to stonewall efforts to get it to acknowledge the existence of a memo authorizing the killing of Awlaki. Democrats previously demanded the “torture memos” of the Bush Administration that revealed both poor legal analysis by Judge Jay Bybee and Professor John Yoo to justify torture. Now, however, Democrats are largely silent in the face of a president claiming the right to unilaterally kill citizens.

Holder became particularly cryptic in his assurance of caution in the use of this power, insisting that they will kill citizens only with “the consent of the nation involved or after a determination that the nation is unable or unwilling to deal effectively with a threat to the United States.” What on earth does that mean?

He was more clear in establishing that due process itself is now defined differently than it has been defined by courts since the start of this Republic. He declared that “a careful and thorough executive branch review of the facts in a case amounts to ‘due process.’” Of course, from any objective standpoint, that statement is absurd and Orwellian. It is basically saying that “we will give the process that we consider due to a target.” His main point was that “due process” will now longer mean “judicial process.”

That last statement goes to the heart of the controversy. Many reporters have bought into the spin of the Administration that there are real limits to this power because they perform their own constitutional analysis for each killing. This starts with the presumption that the Constitution does not require these determinations to be made by a court or that they be subject to court review. They then redefine the protections of due process as a balancing test within the administration. This Administration has consistently maintained that courts do not have a say in such matters. Instead, they simply define the matter as covered by the Law Of Armed Conflicts (LOAC), even when the conflict is a war on terror. That war, they have stressed, is to be fought all around the world, including the United States. It is a battlefield without borders as strikes in other countries have vividly demonstrated.

The result is that they are claiming that they are following self-imposed “limits” which are meaningless — particularly in a system that is premised on the availability of judicial review. The Administration has never said that the LOAC does not allow the same powers to be used in the United States. It would be an easy thing to state. Holder can affirmatively state that the President’s inherent power to kill citizens exists only outside of the country. He can then explain where those limits are found in the Constitution and why they do not apply equally to a citizen in London or Berlin.

All the Administration has said is that they closely and faithfully follow their own guidelines — even if their decision are not subject to judicial review. The fact that they say those guidelines are based on notions of due process is meaningless. They are not a constitutional process of review. They are a dressed claim of process for a unilateral power. Presumably, the President can override the panel or disregard the panel. The panel is an extension of his claim of inherent unilateral authority.

If the “limit” is the internal review described by the administration, we are speaking a different language. Any authoritarian measure can be dressed up as carefully executed according to balancing tests, but that does not constitute “fifth amendment analysis,” “fourth amendment analysis,” or any constitutional analysis that I know of. It is at best a loose analogy to constitutional analysis.

This is precisely why the Framers rejected the “trust me” approach to government, as discussed in this column.

Since last year, U.S. drones have killed three Americans overseas.

Source: LA Times

213 thoughts on “Holder Promises To Kill Citizens With Care”

  1. gee Jonathon hughes, you are telling the “Truth”. It is exactly the mindset: that your truth is The Truth, that has led to what is going on in the middle East, and elsewhere, and the cause for innumerable wars – you know an excuse for killing. G-d gave us minds with which to think, proselytizing is just parroting. (and posting posts 2x do not make them any more true.)

    Arthur Randolph Erb, for an attorney you must have missed the class the day they taught about ‘innocent until proven guilty.”

    (sry am coming late to this post’s party.)

  2. Bron,

    I’ll have to give you props on the Twinkie joke. That was pretty funny. I probably won’t be able to look at a box of Swiss Rolls without thinking about “the whore” who made them for quite some time.



    You say “I am a chosen figure.”

    With that statement, I’m less concerned that you’re seeing Jesus everywhere than I am about whether or not you’re seeing a competent psychologist, psychiatrist or otherwise qualified mental health professional.

  3. edited;
    I am not literally of figuratively Jesus, but Jesus is in this body that does not shine visible light like his body shines light..The light from Jesus is what is hell to the wicked.That light when it shines will be the end of the wicked. I am a chosen figure. A saint I am not. There is but one good, and that is Christ. A saint is an idol figure that Catholics use that turn your mind away from Jesus having eyes that do not see. Jesus is in me to save all mankind. He found me when I was at a low point in my life. He never forsook me. He showed me who is evil, and who is not in a dream. God spoke four words to me on night with no images at all. The voice said; God,is, Not ,evil . I believed those words. Then the devil was allowed to come in from the side introducing himself saying hi I am Satan smiling thinking if I was angry with God that in my mind I would accept him. He looked like any man slight of build with a wide grin trying to look as good as he could. I immediately wanted to get away from him. He repulsed me. When I awoke I vowed I would never be negitive toward God ever again. I did not want to see the face, and feel the negitive energy of that being ever again.
    The Lord God has opened my mind up more, and more ever since. The world is upside down in many ways, and needs to be made right side up. It is my goal to reduce the number of lose souls in Gog, and Magog at the final Judgment that will eliminated them from existence in Gods light when they try by force to take the city of God Revelation 20-9.kjv, The lake of fire in the vision loos like a lake of fire by reason of the multitude of lost humans being burned up in Gods light that searches the inner most thoughts of the heart.,

  4. Obama Administration Offers New Defense for Killing U.S. Citizens
    But counterterror policy raises as many questions as it answers.
    By Yochi J. Dreazen

    The speech raised as many questions as it answered. Holder didn’t offer any detail about the other Americans it was pursuing, explain who in the administration needs to sign off on the killings of U.S. citizens affiliated with terror groups, or precisely define the legal terms under which Americans could be targeted. He didn’t address the operational aspects of such strikes, including whether they are carried out by the CIA or by the military’s elite Joint Special Operations Command.

    The remarks instead seemed designed to carry out a pair of related missions: reassure outside critics that lethal force would only be used against a small number of Americans — and only under a set of three specific conditions — and combat the growing perception that Obama’s counterterror policies have become more extreme than those of the Bush administration.

    It’s far from clear that Holder’s speech will pull that off. Morris Davis is a retired Air Force colonel who served as the chief prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay before resigning and becoming a harsh critic of the detention camp and the military commission process itself. In an interview, he called the new policy deeply worrisome.

    “There are those signs with Bush’s picture saying, ‘Do you miss me yet?’” he said. “I’m almost going to the point that I do. Even Bush didn’t say he had the unilateral right to kill.”

    The White House has already retained — and expanded — a host of controversial Bush-era counterterrorism programs. Obama has signed off on four times as many lethal drone strikes inside Pakistan as Bush had. The president has expanded the nation’s drone war to new battlefields in Yemen and Somalia. Guantanamo Bay remains open, and the military commissions which Obama criticized so harshly during his 2008 presidential campaign resumed last year. With the recent killings of three U.S. citizens, the Obama administration has added a new tactic that goes beyond anything put in place by the Bush White House.

    Holder offered a multi-part defense for the administration’s approval of strikes like the drone attack in Yemen last year which killed Awlaki and a second American citizen, al-Qaida propagandist Samir Khan. Awlaki’s American-born son, Abdulrahman, 16, was killed in another U.S. air strike in Yemen just weeks later.

    The attorney general said such strikes would only be carried out if three conditions were met. First, Holder said that the executive branch has to have determined that the U.S. citizen “poses an imminent threat of violent attack” against the U.S. Second, it has to involve a situation where it’s not “feasible” to capture the militant alive. Finally, the strike has to cause only minimal collateral damage and “use weapons that will not inflict unnecessary suffering.”

    “The unfortunate reality is that our nation will likely continue to face terrorist threats that, at times, originate with our own citizens,” Holder said. “When such individuals take up arms against this country and join al-Qaida in plotting attacks designed to kill their fellow Americans, there may be only one realistic and appropriate response.”

    Still, Holder gave no ground on one of the most contentious aspects of the policy: the administration’s insistence that it can decide which citizens to kill on its own and without needing any judicial review. The Constitution, he said, “guarantees due process, not judicial process.”

  5. “Go yee and forsake yee the Hostess Twinkie and all things made by the whore Little Debbie. And be protected from temptation by the evil Alfredo and his sauce and noodles. His brother Linguine is no better.

    If you eat sugar and flour, yea though you walk through the valley you will lie down and take a nap because you are overloaded on carbs. -Bron

    Excellent, Bron… Excellent.

  6. Jonathonhhughes “Had man not fallen we would not have war. ” Heck, had man not “fallen” we would not have humanity.

  7. Bron:

    “Go yee and forsake yee the Hostess Twinkie and all things made by the whore Little Debbie. And be protected from temptation by the evil Alfredo and his sauce and noodles. His brother Linguine is no better.”


    Stop it, Bron. You’re killing me.

  8. Don’t understand your question anonymous. Based on Holder’s statement, I am actually in fear of posting anything lest I be deemed a terrorist.

  9. Johnathan Hughes:

    “God in humans does not do that. Naked came from the devil. That is why humans respond to that word the way they do. To not respond to that name with fear will only make the devil upset.”

    I think they respond to naked that way because most people do not look like Michelangelo’s David. If they did, I have a feeling there wouldn’t be so much worry about the word naked.

    But it is the devil, the white devils; sugar and flour which make us fear the word naked.

    Go yee and forsake yee the Hostess Twinkie and all things made by the whore Little Debbie. And be protected from temptation by the evil Alfredo and his sauce and noodles. His brother Linguine is no better.

    If you eat sugar and flour, yea though you walk through the valley you will lie down and take a nap because you are overloaded on carbs.

  10. Richard West,

    Was it not more his disingenuous reporting that most rational people objected to?

  11. Mespo,

    I think you’ve summed up the morays of most folks actions involved in anything they seriously believe….. They will sick the life right out of you…m

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