A Peculiar Kind of Reasoning

I’ve been MIA recently, most due to some other projects I’ve been working on.  But I’ll have some deeper thoughts on the following later on…right after I’ve succeeded in picking my jaw back up from off the floor.

From a speech Eric Holder delivered at Northwestern University yesterday (emphasis mine):

“Any decision to use lethal force against a United States citizen – even one intent on murdering Americans and who has become an operational leader of al-Qaeda in a foreign land – is among the gravest that government leaders can face.   The American people can be – and deserve to be – assured that actions taken in their defense are consistent with their values and their laws.   So, although I cannot discuss or confirm any particular program or operation, I believe it is important to explain these legal principles publicly.
 
Let me be clear:   an operation using lethal force in a foreign country, targeted against a U.S. citizen who is a senior operational leader of al Qaeda or associated forces, and who is actively engaged in planning to kill Americans, would be lawful at least in the following circumstances: First, the U.S. government has determined, after a thorough and careful review, that the individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States; second, capture is not feasible; and third, the operation would be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles.”

 And so yea, please discuss.

 

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13 thoughts on “A Peculiar Kind of Reasoning

  1. It is a bit shocking, no? And he has to say it, doesn’t he? After what went down?

    As to the constitutionality of it all, I’m not at all in a position to argue it one way or another. But it sounds about right. If the government has the authority to kill people in any event, then it seems it would also have the authority to kill US citizens in foreign countries under the conditions outlined (basically, a list of otherwise applicable conditions which may be abrogated due to circumstance). If not, then government would be in principle deprived of an otherwise justified use of its constitutionally accorded powers, one which it is in fact required to perform. Of course, the problem with Holder’s argument is that there’s no public review of charges or evidence, so there’s no real check on the exercise of this power. But is that required for constitutionality, especially given the argument made?

    All that said, I don’t like what it permits or what it implies.

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  2. Northwestern University, not Northeastern University. One’s a major international research institution with Big Ten athletics in a world-class city and the other, I guess, is in Boston.

     

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  3. “First, the U.S. government has determined, after a thorough and careful review, that the individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States; second, capture is not feasible; and third, the operation would be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles.””

    That is all fine and dandy.  Just demonstrate that those three conditions were all met.

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  4. I recall a time not long ago, when I (together many other people) was horrified that our phones could be tapped by presidential order.  And when the Administration suggested, as a compromise, that the AG would also have to approve, we said “The president and the purely independent voice of someone that he can fire, huh?  Bullcrap.  Get a court order and we’ll talk.”

    Now apparently it’s acceptable for the president to order someone killed without the decision process ever leaving his administration. God help us.

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      • Yes, but “due process” doesn’t mean a judge.  Odd definition of “due process” to me.

        This is the difference between the right and the left.  When Bush trotted out his Executive Privilege BS, the right shouted “traitor” to anyone who dared speak up.  On the other hand, the liberal blogs are denouncing Holder  in no uncertain terms.

        If there was a mensch running on the Republican side, I would hold my nose and vote R.  For good or ill, I don’t have to (or get to) make that choice.

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