The president can kill you

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The kinder, gentler president?

My sympathies don’t lie with Republicans OR Democrats on many issues. The Republicans, in addition to other faults, have a bad habit of pinning their hopes on rabid hypocrites: it seems like the more conservative the moral values a politician espouses, the more likely they are to be exposed engaging in some kind of compromising behaviour.

But hypocrisy abounds on the other side of the aisle, too, and Barack Obama’s shameless trampling of civil liberties has to be one of the most egregious examples.

The very security overreach George W was regularly lambasted for has been continued, and added to, by Obama:

This is not a man who believes in freedom, checks and balances, and the rights of ordinary citizens. As the link details, Guantanomo is still open, jury by military commission still exists, the patriot Act hasn’t been revoked, and U.S. citizens – albeit, ones labeled terrorists – are targeted by their president for murder.

A new law, NDAA, is currently being challenged by civil libertarians. Quote: “This would have stripped U.S. citizens of due process in suspected terrorism cases and allowed the military to hold them indefinitely.”

This is not Leftist hand-wringing. I’m not personally overly concerned about the treatment of avowed enemies of the West. The problem is, give a government enough unrestricted power, and you create the possibility of a star chamber of ‘patriots’ targeting whomever they want to target as enemies.

The very nature of national security cases is that details are withheld from the public and from journalists. So how are citizens protected from abuse of the system if they aren’t given due process, they’re tried by military courts, any details are kept from the public eye for “security” reasons, and they can be held indefinitely or even murdered without a fair trial?

Here’s the thing: Dictatorships have laws and legal systems. It’s just that both are corrupt. Having laws doesn’t maintain freedom if laws are wide open to abuse and corruption.

Now for Eric’s zany idea #865: I’m not saying governments should never do nasty things to preserve the safety of their citizens. I’m not even saying an occasional assassination is a bad idea. But I think they should remain illegal.

How do I reconcile the two ideas? Simple: keeping them illegal keeps them in check. When an operative, a bureaucrat or a president knows they could go to jail for what they’re doing, they’ll only do it under extraordinary circumstances – circumstances so extraordinary they’ll a) think it’s still important enough to risk jail or b) hope a civil court will go easy on them because the circumstances were so compelling. Extra-judicial killing should never be “sanctioned” by law, even if it’s in the West’s interests to have it as an option.

Obama’s supporters need to be honest with themselves. Many if not most of the reasons they disliked Bush and Cheney were the perception they were turning the U.S into a police state (…OK, plus a little foreign engagement called Iraq).

But as legal scholar Jonathan Turley is quoted saying: “The irony is that Obama has realized the dream of Richard Nixon in creating an imperial presidency.”


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