Last week’s “Interesting News From Elsewhere” post included a link to an op-ed about the Obama Administration’s endeavors to assassinate people outside of a war zone (Here are some posts from Glenn Greenwald about it). Some of those people happen to be American citizens. Now, we have all kind of accepted that the United States intelligence community assassinates people outside of war zones all the time. I mean, they made a West Wing episode about it and think about the number of people you know that said we should have snuck in an assassinated Saddam Hussein instead of invading Iraq. Clearly, this is something people don’t get too up in arms (har har) about. I think they should, but they probably won’t. However, as is often the case, people might actually care a little bit about the issue if they feel it might affect them or someone they know. For instance, if the American government is trying to execute an American citizen for speaking publicly about things he believes without affording him a trial or any other constitutional protections designed for moments such as these. As Daniel Webster said:
“Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.”
The Executive Director of the ACLU wrote a letter (pdf) to the President that firmly outlines the problems with the assassination program. To sum it up, it is illegal and unconstitutional. But, it seems like so much more than that. The American government could, conceivably, execute this man while he is asleep in his bed without even taking the time to bring evidence against him. And it seems like a lot of people are upset about this, but it is getting little popular attention. I hate to continually berate the President, but, seriously, how many poor decisions, back tracking movements, and blatantly unconstitutional actions can one man authorize? When we all hoped for change, we – or at least I was – were hoping for change in the other direction. You know the direction. The positive one.