Thursday, February 7, 2013

Abolishing the Constitution

The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States says in part: "No person .... shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law." The Obama administration, it's been discovered, appears to find this fundamental right inconvenient and has arrogated to itself the prerogative of killing American citizens against whom no evidence of criminal activity has been adduced, who have not been charged with any crime, and who have not received the benefit of judicial review.

Mr. Obama was one of the foremost critics of the Bush administration for detaining known terrorists without a trial and for wiretapping without benefit of judicial warrant foreigners believed to be engaged in terrorist activity. Senator Obama, his fellow Democrats, and the liberal media were outraged at Bush for what they perceived to be his violation of civil liberties, but now that they're in power they're adopting measures far more lethal and constitutionally problematic than anything Bush ever did.

The folks at MSNBC's Morning Joe, all of whom are Obama supporters, are appalled that the president would be a party to this, but they shouldn't be surprised. Mr. Obama's disdain for the restrictions placed on government action by the First, Second, and Fifth Amendments has been clear for some time. Here's the discussion on Morning Joe:

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The memo they're talking about lays out a three part test for killing an American citizen. According to the article at the above link:
In addition to the suspect being an imminent threat, capture of the target must be “infeasible, and the strike must be conducted according to “law of war principles.”
But the definition of "imminent threat" and "infeasible" appears to be very elastic. For example:
“The condition that an operational leader present an ‘imminent’ threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future,” the memo states.

Instead, it says, an “informed, high-level” official of the U.S. government may determine that the targeted American has been “recently” involved in “activities” posing a threat of a violent attack and “there is no evidence suggesting that he has renounced or abandoned such activities.” The memo does not define “recently” or “activities.”
By this definition of "imminent threat" even Mr. Obama's friend the erstwhile terrorist Bill Ayers could be targeted for killing by a drone strike.

But at least Bill Ayers really was a terrorist. Two years ago Democrats were calling Tea Party members terrorists. If American citizens can be killed abroad even though they haven't actually plotted to commit any crime against America, what's to stop the government from labeling American citizens here at home as terrorists simply for speaking out against the government and having them arrested, or worse?

The fact that the man who made the video which the administration falsely blamed for inciting the mob in Benghazi to kill our ambassador still languishes in a California prison on a minor charge should give us pause before we dismiss the fear that citizens exercising their First Amendment rights would be punished by this, or a future, administration.

Moreover, what makes a capture "infeasible"? Is it just danger to American troops? How much danger? What if the American citizen is in a country that will not arrest him nor permit us to do so? What if Bill Ayers decides to live in Cuba or Venezuela? If so, he'd qualify, under the Obama policy, as a terrorist whose capture is infeasible and the only protection he'd have from a missile being delivered through his bedroom window is that he happens to be a friend of the Obamas.

This policy is an assault on the Constitutional protection afforded by the Fifth Amendment all by itself, but worse, it places us on a slippery slope at the bottom of which lies a total disregard of the Constitution should whoever is president deem it expedient.

On the bright side, it has also placed conservatives and at least some liberals in the very unusual position of being united in mutual outrage.