(2 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
US Attorney General Eric Holder asserted in a speech at Northwestern University’s law school 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. He did this without legal citations or footnotes to the speech. Eric Holder needs to reread the Constitution, in particular the 5th, 6th, and 14th amendments, with an emphasis on the 6th
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
There are seven rights in just that one amendment that go to the heart of the principles of the judicial process:
1. The right to a speedy trial
2. The right to a public trial
3. The right to be judged by an impartial jury
4. The right to be notified of the nature and circumstances of the alleged crime
5. The right to confront witnesses who will testify against the accused
6. The right to find witnesses who will speak in favor of the accused
7. The right to have a lawyer
“Due process balances the power of law of the land and protects individual persons from it. When a government harms a person without following the exact course of the law, this constitutes a due-process violation, which offends against the rule of law.”
And according to the 5th Amendment‘s brief but very clear language, no person “be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”
Law professor Jonathan Turley wrote at his blog that Holder has promised to kill citizens with care. That, in effect, is the pledge the Obama administration’s attorney general says has replaced our constitutional protections:
[..]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 US 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 in 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.” [..]
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 no longer mean “judicial process.” [..]
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.
Since the whole world is a battlefield in the vague ‘war on terror,’ the only due process afforded to someone who has been targeted for extrajudicial execution is a secret ‘review’ by the panel of senior officials in the executive branch.
Just as the public demanded the release of the Bush Administration’s Torture Memos to expose the ludicrous rationale behind their secret torture program, we too must demand to know the legal rationale for a program that allows our president to unilaterally choose to deprive someone of life and liberty – without any oversight or recourse available to the victim.
Holder’s speech was a cheap attempt to feign transparency without actually releasing the legal memos that define the administration’s execution program. We need your help to demand the Obama administration release these memos immediately so there can be an open public debate about Executive power and the execution of American citizens without any due process or outside accountability.