Obama and The License to Kill US Citizens
I commented on this earlier this year, that the Obama administration had continued the Bush policy of allowing the killing of US citizens abroad who are allegedly associated with terrorist groups. Now this already distasteful scenario has gotten murkier as the Treasury Department has made it illegal to have lawyers represent these US citizens in court. Imagine the scenario, having been mistakingly been but on the Obama assassination target list, you have no legal way to get your name off, nobody can even try to do it for you. It reads like a bad movie, a plot you would dismiss as too Orwellian, but here we have it. This being the country that started a revolution for having to pay taxes...
“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” ~Benjamin Franklin, February 1775
A major legal challenge to one of the Obama administration's most radical assertions of executive power began this morning in a federal courthouse in Washington, DC. Early last month, the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights were retained by Nasser al-Awlaki, the father of Obama assassination target (and U.S. citizen) Anwar al-Awlaki, to seek a federal court order restraining the Obama administration from killing his son without due process of law. But then, a significant and extraordinary problem arose: regulations promulgated several years ago by the Treasury Department prohibit U.S. persons from engaging in any transactions with individuals labeled by the Government as a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist," and those regulations specifically bar lawyers from providing legal services to such individuals without a special "license" from the Treasury Department specifically allowing such representation.
A 2008 file photo shows Imam Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen.
On July 23, the two groups submitted a request for such a license with the Treasury Department, and when doing so, conveyed the extreme time-urgency involved: namely, that there is an ongoing governmental effort to kill Awlaki and any delay in granting this "license" could cause him to be killed without these claims being heard by a court. Despite that, the Treasury Department failed even to respond to the request.
It's also possible that a federal judge will be highly reluctant to restrain the President from targeting alleged Terrorists, or will view the AUMF as constituting Congressional authorization for the President to kill anyone who is allegedly associated with Al Qaeda no matter where they are found (on the ground that the whole world is a "battlefield"), particularly if they're alleged (without proferred evidence) to be involved in ongoing, imminent Terrorist plots
But whatever anyone thinks of those issues, it should offend every American that the Government purports to have the power to ban lawyers from representing citizens without its permission, which (as it's doing here) it can withhold without explanation and in its sole discretion. Does any American want the Government to have that power with respect to citizens: to bar lawyers, under the threat of criminal prosecution, from representing you if the Government calls you a Terrorist? That's the power the Obama administration is asserting and, in this case, actively wielding. A court will now decide if it has the legal authority to do that, and if the court decides it does not, the next step will be a lawsuit brought on behalf of Awlaki contesting Obama's authority to order American citizens killed without any criminal charges or due process.
The Obama administration should be very proud of itself.Read more at www.salon.com