Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Our murderous president

It doesn't seem that long ago that the left was justifiably upset with President George W. Bush, whose toughness on terror meant playing loose with civil liberties.  Then President Obama was elected, and since  politics is a team sport, we didn't hear much from the left about all those awful things Bush had done because, for the most part, Obama was still doing them.

One noble exception has been Glenn Greenwald, who has done an outstanding job cataloging the bipartisan consensus on violating the civil liberties of the American people.  Today's piece is excellent: it concerns a Justice Department memo providing legal justification for Obama's policy of assassinating American citizens using drones.  Although he's utilized a similar approach to the Bush administration in running roughshod over American rights, the despicable former president never went this far.

Greenwald highlights six points of emphasis from the memo:

1) "Equating government accusations with guilt": the government asserts that it will only kill terrorists, but the government is the only arbiter to determine if someone is a "terrorist".

2) "Creating a ceiling, not a floor": the government could kill other "terrorists", for other reasons not outlined in the memo.

3) "Relies on the core Bush/Cheney theory of a global battlefield": since "terrorists" could be anywhere, they can be killed anywhere--no matter what other host nations might think about our drone invading their air space.

4) "Expanding the concept of "imminence" beyond recognition": a "terrorist" can be killed even if we have no evidence that he was planning an attack--not that this matters, since all evidence is secret, so every "terrorist" will undoubtedly be in the final stages of planning an attack on U.S. soil.

5) "Converting Obama underlings into objective courts": the justification for these procedures is determined internally by DOJ attorneys; the watchers are watching themselves, don't you worry.

6) "Making a mockery of "due process": these policies apply to citizens, who are being stripped of their fifth amendment rights.

The right is correct that Obama is an awful president, but it's not because he's a Communist; it's because he's taken Bush's horrible policies and expanded them at the expense of our constitutional rights.  But on important matters like this, the Republicans and the Democrats agree: if you don't want to be killed in a drone attack, don't be a "terrorist".  The U.S. government has never wrongly imprisoned people before, so good citizens have nothing to fear.

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