28 September 2010

Tyranny in America

We were out in front on this one.

The Justice Department is claiming that it cannot be sued in federal court to enjoin its program that targets American citizens overseas for assassination (Glenn Greenwald here.) In effect, the Obama administration is arguing that the program is itself a state secret, which cannot be legally challenged in court, thereby taking a position that totally guts the due process clause of the 5th Amendment because it would serve as an automatic, absolute bar to lawsuits challenging the legality or constitutionality of the program. This absurdly expansive conception of executive power might even make Dick Cheney blush.

We linked Conor Friedersdorf yesterday.

Today, Radley Balko:

You can’t even make the weak argument that the executive at least has to claim this power in the course of protecting national security. Because it doesn’t matter. Obama is arguing that he has the right to keep everything about these executions secret—including the reasons they were ordered—merely by uttering the magic phrase “state secrets.” In other words, that this power would only arise under a national security context is deemed irrelevant by the fact that not only is Obama claiming the president’s word on what qualifies as “national security” is final, he’s claiming the power in such a way that there’s no audience to whom he would ever need to make that connection. So yeah. Tyranny. If there’s more tyrannical power a president could possibly claim than the power to execute the citizens of his country at his sole discretion, with no oversight, no due process, and no ability for anyone to question the execution even after the fact ... I can’t think of it.

Now: The question is whether the Cato/Reason contingent -- supplemented from time to time by the Ron Pauls and the Russ Feingolds -- will rise up to stop this constitutionally abhorrent practice that has become, sadly, business as usual in Washington.

This is precisely what is wrong with the Limbaugh/Palin/Levin wing of the Republican Party: It shrieks about things like Obamacare, cap and trade and taxes as unconstitutional encroachments on liberty, when in actuality, the most clear and present danger to American liberty in 2010 charges on, right under its nose.

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