Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Did the terrorists win?

with 3 comments

The US government has made rapid progress toward destruction of the Bill of Rights in the name of fighting terrorism. Given the degree to which we no longer respect the rule of law (protect torturers, assassinate citizens without due process, seize computers at the borders, and so on), one would have to think that the terrorists have succeeded in quite a few of their aims, including draining the US Treasury with pointless foreign wars.

Take a look at these articles:

Nick Baumann writes in Mother Jones about how the FBI gets foreign governments to do its interrogations since those governments operate without restrictions of the US Constitution.

Glenn Greenwald has an interesting column summarizing the number of terrorist plots the FBI has concocted, recruited young men for, and then pounced, arresting all and pumping out press releases about how great the FBI is (according to the FBI) for foiling yet another terrorist plot. But these plots are the FBI’s own creations. He’s quite specific and has links that support his assertions.

And note this comment by Greenwald on Obama’s citizen-assassination program:

It was first reported in January of last year that the Obama administration had compiled a hit list of American citizens whom the President had ordered assassinated without any due process, and one of those Americans was Anwar al-Awlaki.  No effort was made to indict him for any crimes (despite a report last October that the Obama administration was “considering” indicting him).  Despite substantial doubt among Yemen experts about whether he even has any operational role in Al Qaeda, no evidence (as opposed to unverified government accusations) was presented of his guilt.  When Awlaki’s father sought a court order barring Obama from killing his son, the DOJ argued, among other things, that such decisions were “state secrets” and thus beyond the scrutiny of the courts.  He was simply ordered killed by the President: his judge, jury and executioner.  When Awlaki’s inclusion on President Obama’s hit list was confirmed, The New York Times noted that “it is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing.”

After several unsuccessful efforts to assassinate its own citizen, the U.S. succeeded today (and it was the U.S.).  It almost certainly was able to find and kill Awlaki with the help of its long-time close friend President Saleh, who took a little time off from murdering his own citizens to help the U.S. murder its.  The U.S. thus transformed someone who was, at best, a marginal figure into a martyr, and again showed its true face to the world.  The government and media search for The Next bin Laden has undoubtedly already commenced.

What’s most striking about this is not that the U.S. Government has seized and exercised exactly the power the Fifth Amendment was designed to bar (“No person shall be deprived of life without due process of law”), and did so in a way that almost certainly violates core First Amendment protections (questions that will now never be decided in a court of law). What’s most amazing is that its citizens will not merely refrain from objecting, but will stand and cheer the U.S. Government’s new power to assassinate their fellow citizens, far from any battlefield, literally without a shred of due process from the U.S. Government.  Many will celebrate the strong, decisive, Tough President’s ability to eradicate the life of Anwar al-Awlaki — including many who just so righteously condemned those Republican audience members as so terribly barbaric and crass for cheering Governor Perry’s execution of scores of serial murderers and rapists — criminals who were at least given a trial and appeals and the other trappings of due process before being killed.

From an authoritarian perspective, that’s the genius of America’s political culture.  It not only finds way to obliterate the most basic individual liberties designed to safeguard citizens from consummate abuses of power (such as extinguishing the lives of citizens without due process).  It actually gets its citizens to stand up and clap and even celebrate the destruction of those safeguards.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 September 2011 at 3:37 pm

3 Responses

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  1. Why does the Father of the US Citizen not sue the US Govt in a court of law ? At the very least he may be awarded compensatory damages and at the most perhaps settle for a few camels but more importantly he may set a judicial precedent based on the final outcome.

    He certainly has the grounds and proof considering the various arms of government have essentially admitted to the action that caused the son’s demise.

    Am I off subject matter here ?


    3 October 2011 at 6:09 pm

  2. Such lawsuits have been repeatedly attempted, but the DoJ always invokes the State Secrets privilege and the judges so far all allow that immediately—case dismissed. Same thing has happened when foreign victims attempt legal redress (Khaled El-Masri, for one, and I believe he even tried a civil action against Rumsfeld as well).

    No, we’ve created a function and doubtless are outsourcing much of it to the private sector, so we can expect to see it grow quickly, in which activities of any sort cannot be questioned in court. In fact, there was a blog post today on Petraeus.


    3 October 2011 at 6:33 pm

  3. Ok agreed but usually the law suits require the burden of proof or evidence that there was an action taken on behalf of the government and this evidence has been withheld on the grounds you mention.

    In this case the plaintiff has the benefit of video footage from the highest office of the land going on national TV confirming that it was the Administration that took this action, so no need to go into proving beyond a reasonable doubt or the burden of proof and all that.

    There was a confession in this instance, would that not be enough for the jury to deliberate and determine in favor of the plaintiff, based on the preponderance of the circumstantial evidence in a civil case ?


    3 October 2011 at 7:10 pm

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