Tuesday, 11 February 2014 16:43

Obama Considers Killing American with Drone

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President Obama and his national security advisers are weighing the legal issues associated with sending a drone to Pakistan to assassinate an American allegedly working with al-Qaeda.

As reported by multiple media organizations, the Obama administration has intelligence that an unidentified American has, according to unnamed government officials, “helped Al Qaeda militants plan attacks against U.S. troops in neighboring Afghanistan and is actively plotting future attacks.”

Although adding names to and then erasing them from a kill list is reportedly a weekly event at the White House, the press is reporting that this time the president is hesitating because of standards he laid out last May in a speech at the National Defense University.

As The New American reported at the time, the president’s guidelines for going forward with the drone war included an effort to only murder those individuals who posed “a continuing, imminent threat to U.S. persons.”

The president also reiterated his commitment to protecting the due process rights of any American who was nominated for assassination.

A curious element to the story was revealed in an Associated Press (AP) report. Citing the AP story, the L.A. Times reported “the suspect was well guarded and in a remote location, so any raid by U.S. troops to capture him would be risky and possibly even more politically sensitive than launching an airstrike or drone attack.”

Could any suspect have been more well-guarded and represented a riskier capture target than former al-Qaeda mastermind and public enemy number one Osama bin Laden?

Osama bin Laden was reportedly tracked and overtaken by a U.S. special operations team. Why could other less high-value targets not be similarly found by the military? Although bin Laden was reportedly killed in the raid, there is every reason to believe that a team skilled in this type of operation could have captured him alive if those had been the orders they were following.

Once in the custody of the United States, this American with alleged al-Qaeda association could be brought to stand trial for the crimes he’s accused of committing. This would preserve, protect, and defend the constitutional concept of due process, one of the pillars of liberty upon which our Republic is built.

The constitutional preeminence of due process is found in The Federalist Papers, where Alexander Hamilton warned against its violation in any form: “The creation of crimes after the commission of the fact, or, in other words, the subjecting of men to punishment for things which, when they were done, were breaches of no law, and the practice of arbitrary imprisonments, have been, in all ages, the favorite and most formidable instruments of tyranny.”

Due process as a check on monarchical power was included in the Magna Carta of 1215. This list of grievances and demands codified the king’s obligation to obey written laws or be punished by his subjects. Article 39 of the Magna Carta says “No freemen shall be taken or imprisoned or disseised [dispossessed] or exiled or in any way destroyed, nor will we go upon him nor send upon him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.”

Over the years, the Magna Carta was occasionally revised and amended. In 1354, the phrase “due process of law” appeared for the first time. The Magna Carta as amended in 1354 says, “No man of what state or condition he be, shall be put out of his lands or tenements nor taken, nor disinherited, nor put to death, without he be brought to answer by due process of law.”

This fundamental restraint on the royal presumption of the power to lop off heads on command was incorporated by our Founders in the Bill of Rights, particularly in the Fifth Amendment that says in relevant part, “No person shall ... be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

President Obama’s nearly daily approval of drone-delivered assassinations is an effrontery to over 650 years of our Anglo-American law’s protection from autocratic decrees of death without due process of law. When any president usurps the power to place names on a kill list and then have those people summarily executed without due process, he places our Republic on a trajectory toward tyranny and government-sponsored terrorism.

Of course, it would be another matter if those targeted and executed by the president were armed enemy combatants — they were not. Were these suspected “militants” enemy soldiers captured during wartime they would be necessarily afforded certain rights granted to POWs. Those slated for assassination are not allowed any rights — neither the due process rights given to those accused of crimes nor the rights of fair treatment given to enemies captured on the battlefield.

The fact that there is even a debate about how to justify killing this American suspected of al-Qaeda ties proves that the White House has assumed all power over life and death and created ex nihilo a new category of individual — one deprived of rights altogether.

Technically, though, the U.S. military is not permitted to operate inside Pakistan. In fact, the president reiterated that understanding just days ago by reportedly committing to substantially reduce the use of drones in that country. The capture of bin Laden was considered by many in Islamabad to be a violation of Pakistani national sovereignty and under the law of nations it could be seen as little else.

This “red tape” has drawn the ire of some in Congress who regard due process as lowly as the rest of the Constitution, apparently. The L.A. Times reports:

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, apparently alluded to the case at a hearing on worldwide threats last week, saying the new rules “leave Americans' lives at risk” by limiting drone strikes.

“Individuals who would have been previously removed from the battlefield by U.S. counter-terrorism operations for attacking or plotting to attack against U.S. interests remain free because of self-imposed red tape,” Rogers said.

This “red tape” is what constitutionalists call “due process” and it is self-imposed as a part of the Constitution and is designed to protect the most basic rights of life, liberty, and property from being taken by the government without compelling cause.

Regardless of the rhetoric and the reported hemming and hawing, the future for this anonymous American tagged as an al-Qaeda operative doesn’t look bright. The fact is, the president has already killed at least three American citizens overseas in drone strikes. One of them was a teenager, killed along with several of his cousins while they sat at a roadside park eating lunch.

Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was killed in October 2011, and to date the Obama administration has never informed the country of any wrongdoing by this teenager, other than being related to a man (his father) who posted on the Internet anti-American videos that allegedly influenced others to commit crimes. A government-sanctioned assassination of such an individual is repugnant to all those who cherish life, liberty, and the due process that protects them.

An additional denial of due process came from the fact that no known attempt was ever made to capture this young man and take him into U.S. custody. Of course, that could be because he might actually have ended up in a court of law if he had been apprehended; and President Obama, a former lawyer, knows that trials can be long, messy, and unpredictable. It is much quicker and cleaner just to launch a missile and kill someone without going through the hassle of due process.

From the reports, it seems the president has narrowed the options in this latest case of a targeted American citizen down not to whether to capture or kill, but whether to kill with Pentagon drone or CIA drone.

Photo of MQ-9 Reaper drone: AP Images


Joe A. Wolverton, II, J.D. is a correspondent for The New American and travels nationwide speaking on nullification, the Second Amendment, the surveillance state, and other constitutional issues. He is the co-founder of Liberty Rising, an educational endeavor aimed at promoting and preserving the Constitution. Follow him on Twitter @TNAJoeWolverton and he can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


  • Comment Link Michael Dalene Saturday, 15 February 2014 15:20 posted by Michael Dalene

    Simply stated such Acts are "Acts of International Terrorism" as defined by the US Code itself; not to mention several other crimes under the same US Code... but congress CANNOT allow a sitting or past pre/z/ident to be held for trial here or abroad since to do so would subject them to the same... Remember: Congress is ultimately responsible for the pre/z/idents actions since they have the Power to forcibly remove him/her or at least refuse to finance his/her actions.

    I even go a step further in contending that EVERY person within the nation is GUILTY of Treason, terrorism, and many Capital Offenses for not having at least publicly- in sound of another, condemning these actions and calling for the criminals to be held accountable under the Law of the Land (US law) and of Laws the several States...

    Those Sworn to the Laws of the United States and of the several States whom do not Act to forcibly remove the officials within governments, and through inaction, are GUILTY of Treason should be made to suffer the same penalty of those that are/have committed the Acts of Treason and terrorism, etc.

    My recommended penalty for these 10's of millions of offenders: Forfeiture of ALL assets (including the ill-gotten gains of family, friends, etc.) and most especially, their Lives!

    Without Voters to elect them and Sheep/the masses to empower them, these people would have lived and died "unknown" to history in a Free and Sovereign nation...

  • Comment Link Heidi Preston Tuesday, 11 February 2014 23:42 posted by Heidi Preston

    Lisa Monaco was appointed by President Barack Obama to be the Assistant Attorney General for National Security; leading the Justice Department division which oversees major counterterrorism and espionage cases, and authorizes the use of FISA warrants.[15] Monaco has been involved in meetings and the failed attempts to close down the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.[1

    The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 ("FISA" Pub.L. 95–511, 92 Stat. 1783, 50 U.S.C. ch. 36) is a United States federal law which prescribes procedures for the physical and electronic surveillance and collection of "foreign intelligence information" between "foreign powers" and "agents of foreign powers" (which may include American citizens and permanent residents suspected of espionage or terrorism).[1] The law does not apply outside the United States. It has been repeatedly amended since the September 11

    **Merkel will be happy to hear this one- " The law does not apply outside the United States."

  • Comment Link Heidi Preston Tuesday, 11 February 2014 23:17 posted by Heidi Preston

    Just as World War II led to a fundamental reorganization of our national defense structure and to the creation of the NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL, so has September 11 made possible sweeping changes in the ways we protect our homeland.- excerpt from Condoleeza Rice transcript on 9/11 (see transcript of Rice's 9/11 commission statement posted by CNN.com May 19, 2004 )

    Executive Order -- Changing the Name of the National Security Staff to the National Security Council Staff


    - - - - - - -

    By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to reflect my decision to change the name of the National Security Staff to the National Security Council staff, it is hereby ordered as follows:

    Section 1. Name Change. All references to the National Security Staff or Homeland Security Council Staff in any Executive Order or Presidential directive shall be understood to refer to the staff of the National Security Council.

    Sec. 2. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

    (i) the authority granted by law to an executive department, agency, or the head thereof; or

    (ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

    (b) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.


  • Comment Link Heidi Preston Tuesday, 11 February 2014 22:47 posted by Heidi Preston

    This how all this boarder-less, no knock warrant action ect. began. It was/is a bipartisanship agreement and a joint effort within the Government before Sept. 11, 2001 even was on the radar....according to Condoleeza Rice (see transcript of Rice's 9/11 commission statement posted by CNN.com May 19, 2004 for full review)) there had been action taken by the Clinton administration and then continued by the Bush administration. These changes are coming to roost now because of a well, streamlined connective web between departments. Within this context it makes sense that we have an administration even thinking of using a drone to kill an American without trial, without jurisdiction on bringing them back to the United States. Just declared an enemy of the State and that's all it takes. The no knock warrants are justified by the fact that they are seen as terrorists to the country they live in, how else can you explain this unlawful behavior within the Constitutional context? But then we have a former President that declared "the constitution is just a god damn piece of paper"....hard to undo that one.

    "The Gestapo’s main purpose was to hunt out those considered a threat to Nazi Germany. The Gestapo acted outside of the normal judicial process and it had its own courts and effectively acted as judge, jury and frequently executioner.The Gestapo’s greatest weapon was the fear that it created."- various links from news sources.

    Are we there yet????

    "After President Bush was elected, we were briefed by the Clinton administration on many national security issues during the transition. The president-elect and I were briefed by George Tenet on terrorism and on the al Qaeda network. Members of Sandy Berger's NSC staff briefed me, along with other members of the new national security team, on counterterrorism and al Qaeda. ......Now, we have an opportunity and an obligation to move forward together. Bold and comprehensive changes are sometimes only possible in the wake of catastrophic events -- events which create a new consensus that allows us to transcend old ways of thinking and acting.

    Just as World War II led to a fundamental reorganization of our national defense structure and to the creation of the National Security Council, so has September 11 made possible sweeping changes in the ways we protect our homeland.

    President Bush is leading the country during this time of crisis and change. He has unified and streamlined our efforts to secure the American homeland by creating the Department of Homeland Security, established a new center to integrate and analyze terrorist threat information, directed the transformation of the FBI into an agency dedicated to fighting terror, broken down the bureaucratic walls and legal barriers that prevented the sharing of vital threat information between our domestic law enforcement and our foreign intelligence agencies, and, working with the Congress, given officials new tools, such as the Patriot Act, to find and stop terrorists. And he has done all of this in a way that is consistent with protecting America's cherished civil liberties and with preserving our character as a free and open society."

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