Yesterday, in John Brennan’s confirmation hearing for the position of Director of the CIA, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), asked Brennan whether an American citizen that has met the CIA’s test for assassination, may be given the opportunity to surrender before being killed.
Brennan stated that all Americans who have joined with, Al-Qaeda (for example) have been provided notice that the United States will kill them by any means necessary through speeches and broad U.S. foreign policy.
So according to Brennan – the answer is no.
The CIA will however, give the American citizen a unilateral, secret trial by CIA operatives to determine guilt or innocence. Under Brennan’s watch, the CIA will continue to act as the JUDGE determining the rules that give exception to Constitutional Due Process rights, the JURY in determining whether the American citizen is guilty and the EXECUTIONER of the citizen.
This is wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
The Fourth Amendment does not provide exceptions for Al-Qaeda operatives.
We provide free speech protection for the despicable members of the Westboro Church that pickets military funerals to ensure that good speech is protected under the First Amendment. We protect the Due Process rights of despicable child rapists by giving them an attorney and a trial. And we must protect the rights of despicable terrorists in order to ensure that our rights will always be protected.
I wonder how many liberals that are going along with Obama’s consolidation of power would feel comfortable handing over the power of American assassination to Karl Rove or Don Rumsfeld. I wonder how they would feel twenty years down the road when this policy is completely accepted and no longer controversial when someone like Dick Cheney resides in the White House.
The Justice Department White paper has NOTHING to say about the location of someone marked for assassination. It does not mandate that they be located overseas. It does little to define what a high ranking official is and it cannot restrict future administrations from broadening the definition of how a terrorist group is defined.
Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) noted yesterday, and Rachael Maddow reported last night that while almost 5,000 “terrorists” have been taken out by the Obama administration, only one has been captured and brought in.
We as Americans have allowed our Constitution to become pliable on many amendments. But the Fourth Amendment is too sacred to compromise on. The assassination of Al-Awlaki was not necessary. We could have had Eric Holder or a military tribunal press charges against him here in the U.S. The government, who knew Al-Awlaki’s position in Yemen could have then picked him up and brought him home for trial.
Would this have been more difficult than a drone strike? Yes. But our special forces would have gotten the job done.
This administration is already restricting just about every right in the Bill of Rights, save the III Amendment. Obama has actually been a stalwart against quartering soldiers in homes. Our Senators and Representatives need to take this issue up and pass bi-partisan legislation that prevents the executive branch from usurping this type of power.
This is common sense and bi-partisan. If I can cheer on Rachael Maddow’s reporting of this issue, then there has to be enough libertarians on the right and civil rights activists on the left to come together and push back here. Once the 24-hour news cycle drowns it out, it will become cemented as United States policy and the power will only be broadened in each subsequent administration.
If we are going to ignore Due Process, then the answer is yes, we should at least provide American citizens with an opportunity to surrender.
And one more thing. There should be 100 Senators that oppose Brennan’s nomination. If Democrats are really the leader on civil rights, they have a responsibility to take this one and run with it. If Republicans can block the nomination of Susan Rice over an interview or slow down the nomination of Chuck Hagel over comments, they can certainly Filibuster the nomination of a dangerous soon-to-be CIA leader — in fact, they have a responsibility to.