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Leaked: Obama's Rules For Assassinating American Citizens 800

Posted by timothy
from the how-much-different-were-the-previous-tenants'-rules? dept.
cathyreisenwitz writes "For over a year now journalists, civil liberties advocates, and members of Congress have been asking the Obama administration to release internal memoranda from the Office of Legal Counsel justifying Obama's targeted killing program. While the White House continues to deny that such memos exist, NBC is reporting that it has acquired the next best thing: A secretish 16-page white paper from the Department of Justice that was provided to select members of the Senate last June." Spencer Ackerman at Wired says the leaked rules "[trump] traditional Constitutional protections American citizens enjoy from being killed by their government without due process" by redefining the concept of "imminence."
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Leaked: Obama's Rules For Assassinating American Citizens

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  • Oh, the surprise. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @11:59AM (#42797243)

    Governments involved in clandestine assassinations. Who would have thought? And of course, it only happens in other countries, to Al Qaeda and the like. Surely. Oh, and if you believe this, I have a bridge or two I can sell you....

  • by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @12:00PM (#42797257) Homepage Journal

    I'd like to think that this is going to change or this leak will help but I've pretty much given up on that.

    Most people don't care and even if they did, they couldn't do anything. AND if they got to a position to do something I think they would become an imminent threat.

  • Impeachment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by C0R1D4N (970153) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @12:02PM (#42797287)
    This calls for Impeachment and trial of everyone involved. It will not happen of course, because murder is not as big a deal as getting a blowjob from an intern.
  • by fustakrakich (1673220) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @12:03PM (#42797297) Journal

    Yeah, but it's no longer 'clandestine'. We can do it out in the open in broad daylight, and nobody will raise a finger to stop it.

  • by TheCarp (96830) <sjc@caRASPrpanet.net minus berry> on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @12:04PM (#42797309) Homepage

    Then they have declared they can do whatever they want. If the standard is they just "determine" who is a member of al queda and whether there is some vague emminant danger, the big question is, who, either before or after the fact, has standing to question these determinations?

    If there is nobody who can bring this to court, and no way to have oversight, then this is nothing more than a declaration that Due Process is optional in their eyes and they can suspend it whenever they determine they have the need.... because assasination is de facto denial of due process.

    These standards should be considered criminally negligent.

  • by popo (107611) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @12:05PM (#42797323) Homepage

    Which party exactly is the party of limited government and civil liberties? It sure isn't the Democrats or the Republicans, and it sure isn't the Libertarians either as they are now thoroughly politicized.

    There's one-party rule in the United States, and it comes in two subtly different flavors. No matter who you vote for, you're ultimately voting for the Banks, the Healthcare industry, the Military Industrial Complex and a few unions thrown in to make it all look fair.

     

  • Re:Impeachment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @12:06PM (#42797341)

    Impeachment might be seen as a serious option if it hadn't been brought up about a 100 times by partisans since 2008. "Wolf" has been cried too many times.

  • by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @12:13PM (#42797443) Homepage Journal

    I think some people care - but most don't.

    Most reactions are along the line of what you refer to at the end, partisan chest beating in an attempt to win political points - not real concern about the underlying issue.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @12:15PM (#42797481)
    You're a conspiracy nut. And sadly, you're completely right.
  • by Remus Shepherd (32833) <remus@panix.com> on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @12:15PM (#42797483) Homepage

    Governments involved in clandestine assassinations against their own citizens is a fairly rare and outrageous event in a democracy, I assure you.

    I'd think it would be easier to issue a presidential edict saying that anyone who swears allegiance to Al Qaeda also renounces their American citizenship. Then you can kill them as foreign enemies without compunction. I don't know why they'd go to all this trouble to justify killing Americans, unless they wanted the ability to do it on a larger scale.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @12:15PM (#42797485) Journal
    This is the country that sings "Land of the free and home of the brave". Talk about second amendment and the right/duty of the citizens to guard against tyranny. Then we go to our airports to be gate raped by TSA agents. The lunacy of the procedure is beyond comprehension. There was a picture of a returning war veteran removing his belt and boots to place on the conveyor belt, while a friendly smiling helpful TSA agent was holding his service rifle for him. The stupidity of the situation seemed to escaped both of them.
  • by Spectre (1685) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @12:17PM (#42797511)

    My experience has been that whenever this comes up in conversation with actual adults who, while not brilliant, are not stupid either ... they get this dismissive look on their face. It is obvious they are thinking "oh, you are one of those conspiracy nuts, there is no way this could be real".

    Most people don't believe this has actually happened.

  • by mozumder (178398) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @12:20PM (#42797541)

    obey the government, and work within the system to gain power. Don't bother trying to overthrow the Matrix.

    The US Government, like all governments, has the exact same power structure as any other government, and that is: the strong get to rule over the weak.

    You freedom-loving libertarians need to understand this concept. It really is a flaw among you libertarians to think that you somehow live in a "free" country. No, you do NOT live in a free country. You never have. Try breaking a law, and see how much freedom you have.

    You're better off accepting that you have no power, rather than thinking you have any sort of power under a democracy. The key is, if you accepted how powerless you were, you would form different methods of gaining power, instead of through silly methods such as through the 2nd amendment, which was designed to help government control you...

    Nobody at this point actually thinks their pathetic handgun is going to protect them against tyranny by a government armed with SWAT teams, drones, and nuclear missiles, do they? And their power was actually demonstrated via a civil war where Gen. Sherman burnt down half the south to clear out the rebellious traitors..

    It really is shameful that Americans are taught that they have any sort of power, and it's sad seeing them come to the conclusion that they actually don't. The "freedom"-loving libertarian's ego is apparently the hardest thing to destroy, but it must be destroyed for them to actually gain real freedom and power.

    Again, we have to make sure people understand that American do NOT have freedom, and that any attempt to make it look that way is the powerful attempting to control the weak by giving the weak an illusion of power.

  • seriously (Score:1, Insightful)

    by negativeduck (2510256) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @12:20PM (#42797547)

    Can anyone recommend a good forum for technical and interesting stories regarding the advancement of knowledge in this day and age. And not political rhetoric that's just slanted either left or right.

    I want to cry when this is the type of stuff at the top of my once beloved slashdot.

  • by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @12:22PM (#42797569) Homepage

    People do care. Remember the Torture Memos of Yoo? That really got people upset about lawyers. Other than Yoo. And no one in the administration. Really, anyone who would challenge our ability to torture. Well, anyway, people got upset about something.

    The ENTIRETY of the Obama presidency has been a demonstration by Democrats that they didn't disagree with GWB's policies, they merely hated the man and used his policies as a foil. Obama's entire first term was marked by the egregious continuation of every civil rights violation GWB envisioned, but amplified, and Democrats said nothing, unless it was to label a person asking serious questions as "racist."

    If the past four years is any indication, Obama has nothing to fear from "progressives" -- and I say that term with absolute disgust, because "progressive" is just code for Democrat right wing neocon bastard pretending to be a peacenik. Which in my world is worse than Republican right wing neocon bastard not pretending.

  • Re:Impeachment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by scubamage (727538) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @12:23PM (#42797585)
    Sadly this is true. This would be a golden moment for the right side of the house to start flipping out. However, they've cried wolf too many times whining about socialism and birth certificates.
  • Re:Impeachment (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @12:31PM (#42797733)

    The Clinton impeachment had nothing to do with "getting a blowjob from an intern". Clinton was impeached because he committed perjury, lying under oath.

    Any other American citizen that lied under oath would face imprisonment, why is he a special case? Why do you feel the need to trivialize it and make it seem like it was about something else, namely his infidelity?

  • Re:And they said (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HaZardman27 (1521119) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @12:31PM (#42797737)
    And you're just a waste of oxygen if the best response you can come up with is "It's unlikely that you and your guns can stop tyranny, so you shouldn't have your guns."
  • Re:Impeachment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DerekLyons (302214) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [retawriaf]> on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @12:34PM (#42797769) Homepage

    Impeachment might be seen as a serious option if it hadn't been brought up about a 100 times by partisans since 2008. "Wolf" has been cried too many times.

    Since 2008? You've either been living in a cave or are wearing a seriously impervious set of bias blinders. It's been a favorite weapon of partisans since *at least* opening years (and the multiple scandals thereof) of the first Clinton Administration, and has only gotten worse since then. During the 2000-2008 Bush Administration, it was practically the only plank in the position of opposing partisans.

  • by crakbone (860662) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @12:37PM (#42797803)
    There is a difference in actively moving in an armed group and aggressive tactics toward a front line and never committing a crime and being guilty for what you feel is right. In Germany you had people actively picking up arms against the US. In the drone strikes you had people actively driving or riding in a car. And while I hold no affinity for Al Qaeda I feel its treasonous for government official to kill a US citizen without a proper trial.
  • Yet another reason (Score:4, Insightful)

    by no-body (127863) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @12:44PM (#42797903)
    for much of the rest of world to think that US is going even more nuts:

    a - murdering with drones, collateral murders don't matter, no court system/laws involved, no war declared (endless war), getting more pissed off, keep the mill going

    b - TSA shows at airports

    c - 2-class humans - NON-Americans, Americans perceived as arrogant/bullies,

    (leaving the Israel/nuclear/Iran next theater show out)
  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @12:48PM (#42797971) Homepage Journal

    obey the government, and work within the system to gain power. Don't bother trying to overthrow the Matrix.

    The US Government, like all governments, has the exact same power structure as any other government, and that is: the strong get to rule over the weak.

    You freedom-loving libertarians need to understand this concept. It really is a flaw among you libertarians to think that you somehow live in a "free" country. No, you do NOT live in a free country. You never have. Try breaking a law, and see how much freedom you have.

    You're better off accepting that you have no power, rather than thinking you have any sort of power under a democracy. The key is, if you accepted how powerless you were, you would form different methods of gaining power, instead of through silly methods such as through the 2nd amendment, which was designed to help government control you...

    Nobody at this point actually thinks their pathetic handgun is going to protect them against tyranny by a government armed with SWAT teams, drones, and nuclear missiles, do they? And their power was actually demonstrated via a civil war where Gen. Sherman burnt down half the south to clear out the rebellious traitors..

    It really is shameful that Americans are taught that they have any sort of power, and it's sad seeing them come to the conclusion that they actually don't. The "freedom"-loving libertarian's ego is apparently the hardest thing to destroy, but it must be destroyed for them to actually gain real freedom and power.

    Again, we have to make sure people understand that American do NOT have freedom, and that any attempt to make it look that way is the powerful attempting to control the weak by giving the weak an illusion of power.

    In summation:

    War is Peace
    Freedom is Slavery
    Ignorance is Strength

  • by flaming error (1041742) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @12:54PM (#42798049) Journal

    I don't think you'll find many libertarians who believe they live in a free country.

    You can probably find many who believe this was originally intended to be a free country, and that it could become one by following the original design.

  • by smash (1351) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @12:56PM (#42798075) Homepage Journal
    Unless you have been deemed an unlawful combatant or otherwise stripped of your citizenship.
  • Re:Impeachment (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tgd (2822) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @12:57PM (#42798099)

    This calls for Impeachment and trial of everyone involved. It will not happen of course, because murder is not as big a deal as getting a blowjob from an intern.

    Impeachment can only happen if a law has been broken, and US law explicitly grants those rights. If you don't like that, you need to contact your senators and representatives, and get them to propose a law changing that. And wait for it to happen. And you still couldn't impeach because *its not illegal right now*.

    Or you can just post bumbling stupidity on the Internet.

  • by Applekid (993327) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @12:58PM (#42798105)

    I'm not supporting Obama's policy but I don't think this is as evil as everyone is making it out to be. Our country is theoretically "at war" with Al Quada as an organization (whether that makes any sense is a whole other tangent). During World War II, plenty of German-American citizens living in the US flue back to Germany and fought against American forces. We didn't need due process to kill them on the battlefield. Whether you're an American citizen or not, if you're on foreign territory and pose a threat to our armed forces, there's not a large legal barrier to killing you.

    Sure, there's nothing wrong with his policy. Until some faceless bureaucrat pops your name on some list and a sequence of different equally unaccountable government employees push buttons and gets you bombed by remote. When someone that cared about you objects, they're told that you were a terrorist, and they get on that list themselves.

    If the human race fails in it's rampage towards extinction for the next 500 years, we'll look back on this era as the second dark ages.

  • Confederates (Score:4, Insightful)

    by HighOrbit (631451) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @12:58PM (#42798111)
    This is all nonsense. By most people's reckoning and the US Government's own declaration, every Confederate killed at Antietem or Gettysburg was a US Citizen. By what legal authority did the Federal Government kill them? Shall the ACLU and their decendents sue the Government for killing them without due process?

    Oh wait.. they were in open rebellion and waging war against the Republic. Citizens who join Al-Qeda are in open rebellion and are waging war against the Republic. The simple fact is, when you join the enemy and wage war, you can be killed. War is War. No convoluted legal reasoning is needed to kill the enemy in war. If you think otherwise, your mind is clouded with nonsense and you are lost in non-reality.
  • by mabhatter654 (561290) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @01:02PM (#42798175)

    These people have chosen to be enemies of the USA. Back in the days of Cowboys and Indians, your only defense against "aiding the enemy" was to be as far away as possible. The US Army killed plenty of American citizens that lived with Natives...

    The only real change here is that the DoD is actually targeting the terrorist bases WHEN American "citizens" are standing on them. They used to pretend they were getting them along with the other terrorists... But no more.

    I have less of a problem with the government killing confirmed traitors while ENGAGED in plotting against the USA, in a foreign country, with other enemies. That's open and shut... The military KILLS PEOPLE... They don't arrest people.

    This nonsense of picking up US Citizens, on US soil for things that may have happened, then shipping them OUT of the USA without trial was a much larger affront to the Constitution than this new procedure is.

    You don't want to get blowed up, don't stand with the enemy. American citizenship has no bearing if you are actively engaged in planning WAR against the USA.

  • by aaaaaaargh! (1150173) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @01:04PM (#42798199)

    Our country is theoretically "at war"

    That's a pretty weird choice of words, if you think about it.

  • by rs1n (1867908) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @01:05PM (#42798209)
    As the title suggests, please read the fucking article (PDF, not the lame NBC summary), for fuck's sake, before commenting. Let me quote from the very first paragraph for those too lazy:

    Here the Department of Justice concludes only that where the following three conditions are met, a US operation using lethal force in a foreign country against a US citizen who is a senior operational leader of al-Qa'ida or an associated force would be lawful;

    This is not a memo on how to "assassinate" just any US citizen. Rather, it is a memo on how when lethal force can be applied to a "citizen gone bad" if you will -- if one could even call "a senior operational leader of al-Qa'ida or an associated force" a US citizen (see: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/8/1481 [cornell.edu]). What's really sad is that the memo is plastered with the NBC logo all over, making it hard to read. Given this, and the apparently lack of reading comprehension and cherry picking of words, it seems NBC was too eager to up their readership with bold claims of assassinations of US citizens.

  • by mrex (25183) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @01:07PM (#42798237)

    The difference is that in WW2, a German-American soldier on a battlefield wearing a uniform and holding a rifle left no question as to his purpose or allegiance. It was an unambiguous situation, akin to a police officer fatally shooting an armed suspect during a bank holdup. Sure, that suspect was never convicted of a crime, but they were *right there firing a weapon at officers*.

    What we're talking about now with these assassinations is much more like the police showing up at someone's home, breaking the door down, and shooting them because the DA says they were responsible for a bank robbery earlier in the week. That's not really how it's supposed to be done, and the risks to innocent citiznes in such cases due to ignorance, mistakes, or malicious official acts is much higher. There need to be checks and balances around such enormous power to protect innocent people.

  • by neurophil12 (1054552) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @01:14PM (#42798339)

    The ENTIRETY of the Obama presidency has been a demonstration by Democrats that they didn't disagree with GWB's policies, they merely hated the man and used his policies as a foil. Obama's entire first term was marked by the egregious continuation of every civil rights violation GWB envisioned, but amplified, and Democrats said nothing, unless it was to label a person asking serious questions as "racist."

    If the past four years is any indication, Obama has nothing to fear from "progressives" -- and I say that term with absolute disgust, because "progressive" is just code for Democrat right wing neocon bastard pretending to be a peacenik. Which in my world is worse than Republican right wing neocon bastard not pretending.

    That is an enormous load right there. There has been substantial push-back on this and other issues from the progressive community for years. Do you ever check out the ACLU efforts, articles on the Huffington Post and Rolling Stone, and reporting and discussion on The Young Turks or Democracy Now? And those are just the ones I actually check out every now and then. Obama is not nor has he ever been a progressive, and he's also never been a "peacenik". Do you actually know any progressives, or do you just read about them on Fox News or in articles linked by the Drudge Report or on NewsMax? Disgust can go both ways.

    Unfortunately there are many issues that have taken up all the oxygen in the political landscape and made this particular issue one that just ends up largely ignored. It's easy to see why given that the Republicans are more than happy to have this sort of policy in place, and many Democratic representatives are (as usual) afraid to make hay (and of course some just don't care). Perhaps more importantly, it is even more difficult to challenge the president of your party when the other party is vehemently and religiously against your president and party just for existing. I do hope some Dems, and others, challenge the president on this and force him to work through the Congress to produce legislation with oversight and accountability, and I will be writing my reps (again), but I also won't be holding my breath.

  • by glitch23 (557124) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @01:16PM (#42798385)

    That's a really weird and out-of-touch assumption. Do you not realize that many of us are numb from GWBs tenure, and Obama's issues don't seem so bad by comparison so we let them go.

    What? 1. Obama is forcing healthcare on a population whose majority said they didn't want it. His "health care reform" involved a gov't taking over health care, which was unwarranted and unwanted. 2. He is signing executive orders for gun control rather than letting Congress make laws. 3. He is against the saving of unborn children but rallies against guns that kill children. He picks the battles that get him the greatest popularity and votes (women can vote but unborn babies cannot) regardless of their moral or ethical consequences. 4, He has raised federal income tax levels. It doesn't matter on who the taxes were raised or that they don't affect you. It's the principle of the matter. Next time it might be YOU. 5. His spending is out of control. He has spent more in 4 years than Bush ever did in 8 years. Using Bush as an excuse to spend money doesn't fly anymore. Apparently it's patriotic again to raise the debt ceiling level. 6. Obama said he was change we can believe in but he just excuses himself of everything and never takes responsibility for something unless it can benefit him. He doesn't know how to accept responsibility for a failure. The stimulus plan did nothing besides waste money on *temporary* jobs. No good came of any of that. 7. He likes to throw around the fact that the economy would have been worse w/o the stimulus but no one can prove a negative like that so he panders to the idiots who love him because he is black when he says things like that. 8. He is enacting additional environmental regulations that are causing our utility costs to go up but no one knows he is the cause. People just assume the electric company wants more evil profits. 9. More people than at any point in history are now on food stamps. How is that a sign that our economy is doing well? Assume for the sake of argument Obama is just doing what Bush or Clinton did as far as food stamps or anything else is concerned. Why is he happy to maintain status quo? Why doesn't he want to put those food stamp people back to work instead of letting them live off our dime? Why isn't he wanting to make that kind of change?

    On top of that, the fixed system gives us a fraud who panders to loons from the Republicans, so of course people flock to the Democrats as the only major party that hasn't been taken over by delusional people.

    You are delusional and so are democrats. Actually, progressives or liberals is a more accurate term.

  • Re:Impeachment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thoth (7907) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @01:17PM (#42798417) Journal

    Right... but the point is look at the investigative time and effort put into even putting Clinton is the position of being able to commit perjury.

    Then look at the similar effort put into bringing Cheney or Bush up for malfeasance concerning the Iraq War, exposing Plame as a CIA employee, hell any number of other things. Republicans so quick to crucify Clinton apparently lost their principles when it was their guys doing far worse.

  • by mapsjanhere (1130359) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @01:19PM (#42798477)
    Which is the crux of the matter. These people have NOT been stripped of their citizenship (which is a judicial process) but deemed unlawful combatants by (secret) executive decision. No due process, no "cease and desist" letter, your first hint "you're on the list" is a smoke trail moving rapidly towards your window. What is fine for a guy building bombs, but becomes very weak for someone making speeches on the internet.
  • Re:Impeachment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @01:20PM (#42798483) Homepage

    Here are some presidential statements now known to be lies. Which one is the most serious crime? Which one is the least serious crime?

    1. "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky." (Body count: 0. US crimes committed: 0. War crimes committed: 0)
    2. "You must pursue this investigation of Watergate even if it leads to the president. I`m innocent." (Body count: 0. US crimes committed: several. War crimes committed: 0)
    3. "There is no doubt that the regime of Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction." (Body count: 600000. US crimes committed: several. War crimes committed: several)

  • by JWW (79176) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @01:28PM (#42798623)

    This issue has really far less to do with whether the targets are traitors or not and more to do with who is allowed to determine which Americans are and which Americans aren't traitors....

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @01:31PM (#42798669)

    I don't think you'll find many libertarians who believe they live in a free country.

    Define "Freedom".

    Some folks think freedom is just riding a motorcycle or owning some mass produced, stamped steel piece of shit assault rifle.

    Others believe it is to do what the fuck they want as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else.

    And there are others who think they can do whatever they want on their own land - even if that means down the road it hurts others. - like dumping toxic waste on their land that eventually poisons the water table.

    Where Libertarianism fails: the commons. (See the sea)

  • by jma05 (897351) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @01:34PM (#42798725)

    > I don't think you'll find many libertarians who believe they live in a free country.

    As a foreigner who admires their idealism, I don't think American libertarians will believe they live in a free country, when put in ANY country in existence today.

  • by JWW (79176) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @01:40PM (#42798813)

    This isn't about what Obama's political opponents have done, its about his supporters being hypocrites.

    If Bush were president right now utilizing drones in the SAME EXACT MANNER as Obama, political opponents of Bush would be staging demonstrations in Washington with millions of people.

  • by JWW (79176) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @01:42PM (#42798837)

    No, the anti-war crowd party is being silent because THEIR guy is in power...

  • by almitydave (2452422) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @01:46PM (#42798887)

    These people have chosen to be enemies of the USA.

    So says the government that carries out their execution without trial, evidence, or conviction.

    ...The only real change here is that the DoD is actually targeting the terrorist bases WHEN American "citizens" are standing on them.

    Or when they happen to be out on the open road [wikipedia.org], not on a terrorist base.

    ...I have less of a problem with the government killing confirmed traitors while ENGAGED in plotting against the USA, in a foreign country, with other enemies. That's open and shut...

    Except if you read the article, that's not the case at all. An "imminent threat" now means: "recently involved in activies posing a violent threat...", so in other words, not imminent.

    You don't want to get blowed up, don't stand with the enemy.

    Also make sure that you're not falsely identified by an informant being tortured, and make sure that US intelligence makes no mistakes. I find your faith in the infallibility of the US government disturbing. Why do we even have trials with juries and evidence? I mean if the military (or police) know you're guilty, why waste time and resources? After all, American citizenship should have no bearing if someone says you're guilty, right?

    I understand if a citizen is killed in combat while taking up arms for the enemy - that's normal warfare - but a drone strike outside of combat based solely on the assertions of intelligence? Even if the intelligence is correct, and the target is a Bad Guy, it's still a violation of due process prohibited by the constitution, and becomes unchecked power of life and death in the hands of the executive branch. I would hope everyone understands why that's a Bad Thing.

  • by PhxBlue (562201) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @01:49PM (#42798927) Homepage Journal

    This issue has really far less to do with whether the targets are traitors or not and more to do with who is allowed to determine which Americans are and which Americans aren't traitors....

    Here's a hint: If they're in an al-Qaida camp, and they're not hostages, then that means they've chosen to align with a group that wants to kill American citizens and violently overthrow the American government.

  • by femtobyte (710429) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @02:12PM (#42799303)

    Jefferson opposed slavery so deeply that he remained a slave-owner (and slave-raper) for his whole life, while hammering out compromises to make sure others could do the same (including "sunset clauses to certain parts of slavery", aside from the "total ownership of another human being" parts). Obviously a fundamental commitment to the core of human freedom!

  • by LateArthurDent (1403947) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @02:13PM (#42799321)

    Back in the days of Cowboys and Indians, your only defense against "aiding the enemy" was to be as far away as possible. The US Army killed plenty of American citizens that lived with Natives...

    I don't understand. Typically we remember the mistakes of the past to avoid repeating them, not to justify making them again.

    I have less of a problem with the government killing confirmed traitors while ENGAGED in plotting against the USA, in a foreign country, with other enemies. That's open and shut...

    How does one confirm traitors? Is it not through due process? In fact, the US Constitution names very specific requirements for due process regarding treason. Article 3, Section 3: "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court."

    The military KILLS PEOPLE...

    The US military KILLS PEOPLE...who are not American citizens. Unless, of course, they've been engaged by said citizen.

    .. They don't arrest people.

    They are, in fact, required to take prisoners if their enemy surrenders. Article 3 of the fourth Geneva convention specifies that you cannot harm anyone who has laid down their arms and surrendered.

    This nonsense of picking up US Citizens, on US soil for things that may have happened, then shipping them OUT of the USA without trial was a much larger affront to the Constitution than this new procedure is.

    That would also be unacceptable, what's your point?

    You don't want to get blowed up, don't stand with the enemy. American citizenship has no bearing if you are actively engaged in planning WAR against the USA.

    If American citizens are collateral damage as a result of a strike on another target, that's a completely different story, and it would cover this situation. For you to specifically target an American citizen would require a trial. If, through due process, the citizen is found to be committing treason, Congress has the ability to define the punishment, which could be death through military strike. You can't skip the due process part, though.

  • by atomicdragon (619181) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @02:21PM (#42799435)

    2. He is signing executive orders for gun control rather than letting Congress make laws.

    You complain of people being delusional and yet make such a stupid mistake as this. Which executive order and which action within controls guns? He's issued orders telling people to review polices and internals rules, to discuss and analyze the implications of various things and to share information or promote something. None of that is overriding Congress's laws or creating laws or new gun control without Congress. To be so disconnected from reality, you expect others to listen to what you say and trust your judgement of others' grip on reality?

  • by Alastor187 (593341) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @02:27PM (#42799511)

    I'm not supporting Obama's policy but I don't think this is as evil as everyone is making it out to be. Our country is theoretically "at war" with Al Quada as an organization (whether that makes any sense is a whole other tangent). During World War II, plenty of German-American citizens living in the US flue back to Germany and fought against American forces.

    So now a theoretically declared war against a poorly defined group of individuals is the same as a congressional deceleration of war against a sovereign nation?

    We didn't need due process to kill them on the battlefield. Whether you're an American citizen or not, if you're on foreign territory and pose a threat to our armed forces, there's not a large legal barrier to killing you.

    In a genuine time of war exceptions to due process are made. We are not at war. We are not at war with Yemen, yet American citizen Anwar al-Aulaqi was killed there by a drone strike because of the memo you support. He was considered to be a high ranking al-Qaeda agent.

    Two-weeks later is 16 year old son, Abdulrahman al-Aulaqi, was killed in similar air-strike. He too was an American citizen. He was traveling with a high ranking al-Qaeda agent, who was the actual target of the air strike. The strike was 'OKed" because Abdulrahman al-Aulaqi was considered to be a "military-age male."

    We are not at war. As a country we have lost our way. A secret memo is released and we justify why it is OK to kill Americans abroad without any due-process. We claim we want transparency, and yet accept secret memos. We accept killing of foreign men, woman, and child in countries in which we are not at war, because 'civilian causalities are low'.

    The President says "If We Can Just Save One Child..." we should give up are constitutional rights. According the Bureau of Investigative Journalism some 175 children have been killed by the drone program. What about saving just one of those lives? No, lets all attack the Bill of Rights when American children die, but programs that operate on the fringe of legality are OK because foreign children are not afforded the same protections.

    Does our hypocrisy as a country have any limits? Do we ever look around, and say WTF is wrong with us. Do we not believe our rights to be natural, and our government is unique in that it recognizes and protects those natural rights? And if we believe these rights natural are they not natural to all people? If natural to all, then shouldn't our government, a government that respects natural rights, also at a minimum respect the natural rights of people in foreign countries, US citizen or otherwise? Or are the principles upon which the country was founded, tied only to the earth on which it is rooted?

  • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @02:30PM (#42799555)

    These people have chosen to be enemies of the USA.

    So says the government that carries out their execution without trial, evidence, or conviction.

    To add what I think is an important part to that "So says the government that is constantly making mistakes that carries out their execution without trial, evidence, or conviction.

    For me, the scary part isn't that the government is killing people. It's that said people don't get a chance to respond to the charges and get things straight. They put Ted Kennedy on a no-fly list. The senator. Transparency is important because they're terrible at their jobs.

    Government: "We have eyewitness testimony that you're a terrorist operative!"
    Bob:"What?!?"
    Government: "Yeah, Joe said you were building a dirty bomb you were going to detonate in a crowded area."
    Bob: "Joe is just mad because I stole his girlfriend."
    Government" "... Oh... well, dick move, but we're not going to kill you for it. I guess we probably should have asked Joe why he reported you. Or taken that facebook status update where he says 'going to report Bob to homeland security for stealing Staci' into consideration."

  • by Ironchew (1069966) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @02:47PM (#42799765)

    American citizenship has no bearing if you are actively engaged in planning WAR against the USA.

    Actually, yes, it does. Sorry to burst your authoritarian bubble there, but U.S. citizenship and due process are not things the U.S. government can remove without consent. If you hear otherwise, the U.S. government was doing something outrageously illegal.

    The War on Terror is deliberately blurry to the point that any organization suspected of subversion can be considered an enemy. Even if they aren't citizens, does that make it just? You live in a fantasy world where the U.S. government can do no wrong.

  • by cayenne8 (626475) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @03:00PM (#42799941) Homepage Journal

    Here's a hint: If they're in an al-Qaida camp, and they're not hostages, then that means they've chosen to align with a group that wants to kill American citizens and violently overthrow the American government.

    While I do lean towards your sympathies....do you really feel comfortable to that decision being in the hands of ONE man, with no checks and balances, as it has happened so far with President Obama?

    Frankly, that bothers me. And right now...this decisions isn't limited to someone who is a traitor to the country standing on an enemy base at a time of war.

    I want to make sure there are checks and balances...and openness so that this can not devolve into one man calling for a 'hit' to his perceived enemy in the US.

    There's nothing in the rules so far that I see that even come close to prohibiting this.

  • by Urza9814 (883915) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @03:26PM (#42800295)

    One problem: this isn't about wars. This is to justify strikes in places like Pakistan (currently one of the most common) and areas of Africa (upcoming) where _we are not at war_. Therefore these are "police actions" carried out unilaterally by the executive branch.

    How would you feel if the Queen of England decided that she personally had the right to execute anyone in America today, without charge, without trial, without our government's consent, and without a declaration of war? Replace the Queen with Obama and America with Pakistan and that _exactly_ the situation we have here.

  • by lgw (121541) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @03:27PM (#42800311) Journal

    Nobody at this point actually thinks their pathetic handgun is going to protect them against tyranny by a government armed with SWAT teams, drones, and nuclear missiles, do they?

    You completely miss the point with this statement! Tyranny never starts with the government using the military to impose its will on the people (though it sometimes reaches maturity that way). Tyranny starts with "brownshirts".

    The tool of the tyrant who is not yet firmly in control is unofficial (but government sponsored) armed gangs of thugs. They rely on terror and inability to resist to project power, but there are few people in modern culture willing to act that way. With an unarmed populace, 1-2% willing and eager to use violence to suppress dissent will win. But it only takes a similar number to be willing to fight back, to put themselves at risk when the browshirts come for their neighbors, and shoot the fuckers dead. Since most of us are not as brave as we'd like to be, that means you need ~20% of the population to be armed and have a strong moral compass, so that the bravest 5-10% of them actually act.

    That is possible. That works.

  • by Urza9814 (883915) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @03:39PM (#42800517)

    The proper completion would be that the DA _claims_ they are part of or somehow assisting a large criminal organization without needing to offer any proof of this assertion.

    That's the point. That's why everyone is so pissed about this. It's not about killing terrorists in foreign countries. It's that Obama (or one of his advisors) are judge, jury, and executioner. Actually, more than that, the same person is also the cop and detective. Even if they do nothing malicious, people make mistakes. In this case, a mistake could mean the death of American citizens. And they've made zero effort to try to prevent that. In fact, the entire point of this new policy is to actively dismantle the very systems designed to prevent that.

  • by almitydave (2452422) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @03:49PM (#42800629)

    Exactly. Government, when composed of noble, capable people passionate about civic virtue and beholden to the rule of law, can be a wonderful thing and a force for great good. When composed of corrupt or inept people who don't give a damn about the governed, it's horrible. I think people tend to think of the ones ordering drone strikes to fall in the former category (and they very well may), but they should think about what happens when they're in the latter.

    Image that the bureaucrats behind your worst-ever DMV experience are making the calls on which Americans driving down a desert road get wiped out. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that anyone considers Brazil [imdb.com] closer to reality than fantasy opposes this sort of thing.

  • by DeadCatX2 (950953) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @04:22PM (#42801025) Journal

    Or when they happen to be out on the open road [wikipedia.org], not on a terrorist base.

    Or when they're the 16-year-old American son of an alleged terrorist who hasn't seen their father in over two years [theatlantic.com]

  • by Urza9814 (883915) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @05:05PM (#42801557)

    His official policy is that anyone hit by a drone strike is officially considered to be an enemy combatant. Not that they only fire if they can prove these people are guilty, but that the fact that they fired is considered evidence of guilt. That's not taking responsibility, that a pre-emptive cover-up. And it's a complete perversion of the historical western legal principles.

    If another nation did this to us we would consider it an act of war and retaliate. Yet when we do it, it's apparently not an act of war because it requires no declaration of war. If someone is in another sovereign nation, it is up to that nation to decide what that person can and cannot legally do and enforce that as needed. We don't get to be the world's police force; that's not how it works. If that nation is assisting this person in acts of war against us, then we can use existing legal frameworks to deal with that - things like sanctions and war.

    Of course, maybe if we respected the sovereignty of other nations as we expect from them they'd be willing to work with us to police this sort of thing. All we're gaining by doing this is more enemies around the world.

  • by IAmR007 (2539972) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @06:56PM (#42802717)
    We've mistakenly executed enough innocent people who were found guilty by trial to throw the entire death penalty into question. The idea of not even having a trial is obsurd.

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