Attorney General Eric Holder declared on March 5, 2012 that President Obama can, with impunity, secretly order the assassination or indefinite imprisonment of Americans abroad. According to Holder, President Obama may do this without a shred of evidence, based solely on the CIA or Defense Department’s suspicion the citizens are terrorists or “pose an imminent threat.”
My readers know I fervently believe in looking to the past to make the best decisions in the present. Yet here I am stymied.
Such a policy is unprecedented in American history. President Ford issued an executive order against political assassinations, and every president since then has upheld the prohibition. Until now.
NO president, before or after Ford, has ever claimed the right to assassinate US citizens.
Even J. Edgar Hoover, notorious for interpreting the law to suit his personal objectives, believed in due process.
During World War II, several American women – the pair known as “Axis Sally” and Japanese-Americans collectively known as “Tokyo Rose” – actively aided and abetted the enemy war effort with radio broadcasts. Although convicted of treason after the war, the Allies never officially considered assassinating them.
And after US citizen Charles Horman was executed by the Chilean military during the 1973 CIA-supported coup in Chile, the US State Department admitted “negligence on our part, or worse, complicity in Horman’s death,” and the White House helped to investigate his murder. The Fourth Amendment to our US Constitution states that a person cannot be seized by the government unreasonably. The Fifth Amendment guarantees that the government may not deprive a person of life without due process of law. I found it chilling to read that FBI Director Robert Mueller told Congress that he was “uncertain” if the rationale offered by the Attorney General for targeting Americans for non-judicial killing would also apply within the borders of the United States.
In Obama’s 2010 State of the Union address, he said: “I have studied the Constitution as a student; I have taught it as a teacher …I took an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution …I know that we must never – ever – turn our back on its enduring principles for expedience sake.”
I could not say it better. We must never turn our back on these enduring principles for the sake of expedience.