By Rich Lowry
The Hendricks County Flyer
Tue Feb 12, 2013, 04:21 PM EST
Will the author of the Obama administration white paper on killing U.S. citizens please report for his war-crimes trial right away?
If he served in the George W. Bush administration, someone would already be agitating for his extraordinary rendition to The Hague. The white paper outlines why the Obama administration believes that it can kill U.S. citizens involved in al-Qaida without due process. This is not a merely theoretical question, as Anwar al-Awlaki found out from the business end of a Hellfire missile a couple of years ago in Yemen.
The left is still furious that the Bush administration waterboarded three captured terrorists after Sept. 11, 2001. Yet, with a few exceptions, it has blithely accepted the Obama administration's extrajudicial assassination policy that has killed about 1,000 times as many people.
During the Bush years, a small army of former Democratic officials, law professors, op-ed writers, and bloggers blasted the Bush administration as dangerous and un-American for asserting the executive branch's war powers, aka "trampling the Constitution."
Barack Obama was going to be different. We had this on the highest possible authority: Barack Obama. As a senator in 2007, he set out his contrasting vision: "We will again set an example for the world that the law is not subject to the whims of stubborn rulers, and that justice is not arbitrary."
In a speech as president in 2009, he said we must fight al-Qaida. "But," he added, pointedly, "we must do so with an abiding confidence in the rule of law and due process; in checks and balances and accountability."
The white paper outlines what that looks like in practice. If an "informed, high-level official" of the Obama administration determines that a U.S. citizen is one of the "senior operational leaders" of al-Qaida and "recently" involved in "activities" related to a violent attack against the United States, well then, he can be terminated with extreme prejudice.
Note that the high-level official has to be "informed." This must be what Obama meant when he insisted his policies would respect "due process" and "checks and balances."
The white paper has ignited not quite a firestorm (again, this isn't the Bush administration), but at least a smoldering ember of brow-furrowed consternation among the president's supporters and journalistic sympathizers.
They rarely say what their alternative would be. Does a U.S. citizen get an exemption from targeting if he becomes a high-level al-Qaida operative? Should his status be litigated before he can be targeted, and if so, by whom, for how long, and on the basis of what evidence? Can he show up in court to confront his accusers, a basic element of the Anglo-American system?
It is self-evidently absurd. Civil libertarians lament that the argument of the white paper parallels the reasoning of the Bush administration. No kidding.
It's not for nothing that the author sounds like he could have worked for Dick Cheney. The Obama administration's approach reflects the logic of the laws of war, the structure of American government, and the exigencies of the fight against al-Qaida.
It is well-established by the courts that an American citizen who is an enemy combatant can be treated as an enemy combatant. It is also well-established by the courts that it is not the role of the judiciary to interfere in the executive branch's conduct of a war. When an American citizen joins a shadowy band at war with America and operating in areas beyond the reach of law enforcement, he is a legitimate target.
This is not to say that the white paper is beyond reproach, or that it should have been kept secret for so long, but the basic point would seem obvious.
Democratic partisans might be confused. They considered Bush a threat to America's liberty because of his defense of his war powers, yet their hero now stands on similar ground. How to resolve the contradiction? Easy. Conclude that they were wrong the first time.
(c) 2013 by King Features Syndicate
I hate dog movies. In dog movies, the good, loyal, lovable dog always dies at the end and I end up sitting there in the dark with big tears streaming down my cheeks.
May 21, 2013
Mr. President, the buck stops with you.
President Truman set that standard, with these very words posted on a sign on his Oval Office desk.
But now, with over a thousand days left in this second Obama administration, we find a Nixonian stench emerging from the “W. House.”
Rarely has the White House briefing room so resembled the main ballroom at a meeting of the Conservative Political Action Conference.
I’ve not kept it a secret that I find people who dress their dogs in clothes to be, to put it nicely, somewhat more than just eccentric. And many friendly, helpful readers out there have not kept it a secret that they really wish I would not express my views about dogs dressed as humans.
May 17, 2013
Distrust of government secrecy has been elevated to an exceptional level with the disclosure the Justice Department covertly examined two months of Associated Press phone records to determine who leaked details to the AP about a foiled terrorist plot.
The federal government recently announced new regulations for buying fast food.
It sounds like the plot from a dystopian libertarian novel. The word “patriot” and the phrase “educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights” triggered heightened scrutiny from the most intrusive agency in the federal government.
The action at the bird feeder has been spectacular lately: Cardinals, finches, songbirds in impressive variety crowding around all day long in search of sustenance. It is truly gratifying …
For my neighbor.
That’s what it’s like at his feeder.
May 14, 2013
On April 27, Dr. Jeff Butts demonstrated a rare form of servant leadership as he participated in the Go Love Indy westside service project.
May 13, 2013
Everyone presumes that Sen. Chuck Schumer, the media-hungry Democrat from New York, wants to be the next Senate majority leader. His performance in the negotiations over the Gang of Eight immigration plan should bolster his case for an eventual promotion.
Part I: Are We Prepared? | Part II: Disaster Dollars Part III: Lessons Learned | Part IV: Warning Signs Part V: The Big One
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