The Secret Memo That Explains Why Obama Can Kill Americans

(Conor Friedersdorf)   Outside the U.S. government, President Obama’s order to kill American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki without due process has proved controversial, with experts in law and war reaching different conclusions. Inside the Obama Administration, however, disagreement was apparently absent, or so say anonymous sources quoted by the Washington Post. “The Justice Department wrote a secret memorandum authorizing the lethal targeting of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born radical cleric who was killed by a U.S. drone strike Friday, according to administration officials,” the newspaper reported. “The document was produced following a review of the legal issues raised by striking a U.S. citizen and involved senior lawyers from across the administration. There was no dissent about the legality of killing al-Awlaki, the officials said.”

Isn’t that interesting? Months ago, the Obama Administration revealed that it would target al-Awlaki. It even managed to wriggle out of a lawsuit filed by his father to prevent the assassination. But the actual legal reasoning the Department of Justice used to authorize the strike? It’s secret. Classified. Information that the public isn’t permitted to read, mull over, or challenge.

Why? What justification can there be for President Obama and his lawyers to keep secret what they’re asserting is a matter of sound law? This isn’t a military secret. It isn’t an instance of protecting CIA field assets, or shielding a domestic vulnerability to terrorism from public view. This is an analysis of the power that the Constitution and Congress’ post September 11 authorization of military force gives the executive branch. This is a president exploiting official secrecy so that he can claim legal justification for his actions without having to expose his specific reasoning to scrutiny. As the Post put it, “The administration officials refused to disclose the exact legal analysis used to authorize targeting al-Awlaki, or how they considered any Fifth Amendment right to due process.”

Obama hasn’t just set a new precedent about killing Americans without due process. He has done so in a way that deliberately shields from public view the precise nature of the important precedent he has set. It’s time for the president who promised to create “a White House that’s more transparent and accountable than anything we’ve seen before” to release the DOJ memo. As David Shipler writes, “The legal questions are far from clearcut, and the country needs to have this difficult discussion.” And then there’s the fact that “a good many Obama supporters thought that secret legal opinions by the Justice Department — rationalizing torture and domestic military arrests, for example — had gone out the door along with the Bush administration,” he adds. “But now comes a momentous change in policy with serious implications for the Constitution’s restraint on executive power, and Obama refuses to allow his lawyers’ arguments to be laid out on the table for the American public to examine.” What doesn’t he want to get out?

3 Responses to The Secret Memo That Explains Why Obama Can Kill Americans

  • The POTUS is above the law, especially under the auspices of the Patriot Act, Parts i & II. It is that simple. Equally simple is the necessary response from the people. Everybody who votes must be convinced to obtain an Absentee Ballot, complete the form, photocopy/scan it, then send in the original with a letter stating that a copy is being held in case the election suffers from tampering (in the opinion of the voter). Should that voter find reason(s) to believe the election has been tampered with (as in Bsuh v. Gore), then that voter will petition his local election board, along with every other voter in his district, for a recount, supervised by the public. Should the government refuse to honor this request, the voter(s) should take the issue to the court system for relief. Failing to enjoin the courts in the enforcement of a free and fair election, the voter(s) should then take to the streets of their locality surrounding their local Board Of Election Commissioners and stay put until the issue is resolved. Working in shifts, and organizing block-by-block, the people can take back their country, one community at at time, the same way it was established and built. This is the only way to combat the money which supports the occupying army in our streets known as the police, who seem free to torture, maim, and arrest whomever they want despite the lack of probable cause, reasonable suspicion, any actual resistance or any proof of any crime having been committed. Unless and until we can resist with out wits and our rights, we will enjoy less and less freedom until finally, at last, we shall be truly enslaved. Remember the words of Thomas Jefferson: “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” and “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants alike.”

  • Obama’s War On Terror: Civil Libertarians Decry Being ‘Stabbed In The Back’ By Awlaki Decision:

    WASHINGTON — Civil libertarians are expressing dismay over a new report that names two prominent one-time critics of the abuse of presidential power as the forces behind a controversial memo authorizing Obama to assassinate an American citizen.

    The memo, described Sunday in an article in The New York Times, was reportedly signed by David Barron and Marty Lederman, two law professors who frequently challenged President Bush’s legal stances on his war powers before joining the Obama Office of Legal Counsel.

    “It’s always more painful for civil libertarians to be stabbed in the back by a friend,” said Jonathan Turley, a scholar at George Washington University law school who has long been a fierce opponent of expansive interpretations of executive powers. “There’s a real feeling of the Ides of March, that the Obama administration has enlisted civil libertarians to sort of do its dirty work.”

    it was the attachment of Barron and Lederman’s names in the story — they were described as the memo’s “principle” authors, with Barron having signed it — that startled so many observers, particularly since it came on the heels of reports that a third prominent Bush critic, the State Department’s legal adviser Harold Koh, had earlier defended Obama’s decision to forego congressional approval before the Libya conflict.

    “If there were two people you wouldn’t have expected to underwrite expansive new powers for the president, they would have been Harold Koh, who built his career arguing against the Imperial Presidency, and Marty Lederman, who, right up until the time he entered the Obama administration, repeatedly made the case against the Bush-era expansion of executive power,” said Gene Healy, of the libertarian Cato Institute. “Talk about ‘growing in office.'”

  • Prolly all fake.. like everything else, Anwar is tony greenberg…


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