Attorney General Eric Holder has now made clear what many long suspected.
Barack Obama has repealed the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which states in relevant part “nor shall any person… be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.”
In a speech to students at the Northwestern School of Law, Holder asserted that Barack Obama had the lawful power to order “the killing of American citizens overseas” if the president believes, based on secret information, that the American citizen is an “operational leader of al-Qaeda.”
Holder went on to state that the presidential power to declare an American citizen an enemy of the state based on secret information and order the death of that person was sufficient “due process.” He declared that the “Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process” overturning 200 years of settled case law in one sentence.
For Americans, the constitutional guarantee of due process is explained in the Sixth Amendment as the right to know the charges the government has made and the evidence the government thinks prove those charges, a public trial before a jury of your peers, and the right to confront witnesses against you.
The Holder speech was based on a still secret legal memo written by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel and used by Obama to justify the drone strike killing of U.S. born terrorist Anwar Awlaki in Yemen last year.
I believe that the President was right to order Awlaki’s death, but it was not necessary to repeal the Fifth Amendment to do it.
The war authorized by Congress after the attack of 9/11 makes Obama, as commander-in-chief, responsible to employ the military to defeat the enemy. Awlaki was a sworn enemy and the inspiration for many deadly attacks on Americans, notably the murder of American soldiers at Ft. Hood by Major Nidal Hasan.
There’s no issue of due process says the Fifth Amendment “in cases arising in the land or naval forces…in time of war or public danger.”
Why the overreach here? Why the need to go beyond the “war exception” to the Fifth Amendment to claim that the “due process” requirement is met by the President acting in secret as judge, jury and executioner?
Obama has never agreed to the “War on Terror” although he has expanded it to a dozen countries Bush never invaded. He (and Holder) have long histories alleging that the detainees at Guantanamo are protected by the Constitution. The 2009 plan to close Gitmo and put the detainees on trial as criminal defendants was consistent with that view.
Holder’s speech this week is a contradiction to that 2009 plan.
Rahm Emanuel famously said that no crisis should go to waste if it can be used to advance the liberal agenda. Is the war against the U.S. by Islamists the crisis that allows Obama to impose the kind of dictatorship that can order the death of U.S. citizens based on arbitrary standards buttressed by secret information?
The American Civil Liberties Union and other liberal “civil rights” groups are late in waking up to the danger Barack Obama poses to civil liberties.
Obama has advocated legislation giving him broad powers to shut down offensive websites, snoop on social networks, read and collect email and other electronic communication which would be beyond the government’s reach (absent a warrant) if those communications carried a first class stamp, or were conversations heard over a land line phone.
And it’s not just Obama. The federal seventh Circuit Court of Appeals this week upheld the right of an arresting officer to search the contents of a defendant’s cellphone without a warrant or probable cause.
The erosion of civil liberties began well before Obama’s term and is an evil bipartisan trend. But here, as in the federal deficit, Obama takes the trend to new lows.
Really, ACLU? All I hear is crickets from the left as Obama baldly asserts the right to snoop on all of us, collect data wherever and whenever he wants without notice, warrant, or probable cause of any crime, and even kill any American based on secret information applied to secret and arbitrary standards defined by the President.
Will we only hear from the left when a Republican president asserts these same powers? By then, it may be too late.