Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. asserted on Monday that it is lawful for the government to kill American citizens if officials deem them to be operational leaders of Al Qaeda who are planning attacks on the United States and if capturing them alive is not feasible.If this sounds like the same, brain-dead reasoning put forth during by the Justice Department during the Bush years, that's because it is. Not only does Holder's justification echo the same, unconstitutional, borderline criminal reading of executive power that the Bush administration put forth, but the rhetoric is couched in the same, moldy War on Terror straw men we've heard for a decade: give us this power, or we're all going to die.
“Given the nature of how terrorists act and where they tend to hide, it may not always be feasible to capture a United States citizen terrorist who presents an imminent threat of violent attack,” Mr. Holder said in a speech at Northwestern University’s law school. “In that case, our government has the clear authority to defend the United States with lethal force.”
“Some have argued that the president is required to get permission from a federal court before taking action against a United States citizen who is a senior operational leader of Al Qaeda or associated forces,” Mr. Holder said. “This is simply not accurate. ‘Due process’ and ‘judicial process’ are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security. The Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process.”
He also said that some threats come from “a small number of United States citizens” who are plotting attacks from abroad, and that “United States citizenship alone does not make such individuals immune from being targeted.”I'm suddenly having flashbacks to the color-coded terrorism threat charts.
And while the right is predictably silent on this issue, it's ironic how the left, which was so vocal during the John Yoo years of shredding the Constitution, is also mute over what amounts to chest-thumping, election year rhetoric.
Salon's Glenn Greenwald, who's no stranger to these types of debates, asks where the chorus of left-wing Bush critics are all of a sudden. "How can anyone who vocally decried Bush’s mere eavesdropping and detention powers without judicial review possibly justify Obama’s executions without judicial review?" he asks. "How can the former (far more mild powers) have been such an assault on Everything We Stand For while the latter is a tolerable and acceptable assertion of war powers? If Barack Obama has the right to order accused Terrorists executed by the CIA because We’re At War, then surely George Bush had the right to order accused Terrorists eavesdropped on and detained on the same ground."Oh well. I guess it answers the question I posed the other day in this post, regarding Holder's inept handling of the job: "Bravo, Attorney General Holder...between dropping the ball on white-collar mortgage/foreclosure fraud and this, it makes you wonder what, precisely, they do up there all day long."
I guess we know now, don't we? While the goons on Wall Street who wrecked the American and world economies got a pass on the biggest criminal heist in American history, we can all sleep better at night knowing our AG is busy authorizing the assassination of American citizens, rounding up and deporting 400,000 "illegals" every year, and victimizing the Indians.
I'll say it again...Bravo, AG Holder.