Fair and Balanced

08Apr10

In light of the last post, this needs to be said. Barack Obama apparently has a fucked up view of executive power. From Greenwald:

When Obama was seeking the Democratic nomination, the Constitutional Law Scholar answered a questionnaire about executive power distributed by The Boston Globe‘s Charlie Savage, and this was one of his answers:

5. Does the Constitution permit a president to detain US citizens without charges as unlawful enemy combatants?

[Obama]:  No. I reject the Bush Administration’s claim that the President has plenary authority under the Constitution to detain U.S. citizens without charges as unlawful enemy combatants.

So back then, Obama said the President lacks the power merely to detain U.S. citizens without charges.  Now, as President, he claims the power to assassinate them [Awlaki] without charges.  Could even his hardest-core loyalists try to reconcile that with a straight face?  As Spencer Ackerman documents today, not even John Yoo claimed that the President possessed the power Obama is claiming here.

This just strikes me as the epitome of so much liberals, libertarians, and even some centrists opposed under Bush. Even as a practical matter, why is killing Anwar al-Awlaki so important? Why not just detain him? Why not issue a warrant for his arrest on specific charges?

I can’t really see this as any more than a Hollywood fantasy of what it is to fight terrorism. The only good news I can glean is, at least we found out about it.

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3 Responses to “Fair and Balanced”

  1. 1 Adam

    Does it bother you that he okayed his assassination? You do realize that human rights are an invention of man. Just about as tangible as god.

  2. 2 poliology

    Just as much as the Constitution and the free market, my friend.

    Basically, I’m sure we’re going to differ in our interpretations of the Constitution. But it is the law of the land. And surely, the assassination of a US citizen on US soil without due process is unconstitutional.

    And yeah, I’m basically ok with “inventing rights,” a lot moreso than I am with inventing god. Religion promotes irrationality, but rights are invented at least with intention of protecting people.

  3. 3 Adam

    The Constitution is tangible! Intangible ideals made tangible and executable by the document. The free market can be analyzed and interpreted, although it is not tangible. Human rights on the other hand, are the opinions that men of the past hundred years have deemed to be humane or appropriate. American lives have been saved with EITs, so who’s to say what’s right and wrong?

    I’m sure we do differ on our interpretations of the Constitution, but you’d have to at least agree with one of the two factions that emerged after the ratification, the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans. Both parties believed that governmental authority during times of war or insurrection could be increased. Alexander Hamilton and George Washington themselves killed American civilians in the Whiskey Rebellion. There are few circumstances that are exactly similar to this one, but I don’t think it would be much different than treason or desertion, where execution has been used. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Awlaki’s execution was issued while he was in Yemen, not the US. If someone poses a threat, the nation has the right to protect itself. With something like terrorism there is an ambiguity with regards to the threat, but to deny the threat is juvenile. I remember a certain filmmaker stating, “There is no terrorist threat.”

    Every religion’s goal is to help their followers. The major ones, at least. Irrationality is completely subjective. Personally, I find releasing detainees from Guantanamo only for them to kill Americans later on the battlefield to be irrational. There’s almost fifty of those released detainees who have been killed on the battlefield after killing Americans, all in the name of human rights and legal ambiguity. Liberal thought on military action is so incredibly childish. You win wars with brutality, not compassion.


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