The Justice Department is playing hardball against the ACLU’s efforts to block an executive order to assassinate an American citizen charged with no crime.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a lawsuit, representing the rights of New Mexico cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, in the attempt to force the Obama Administration “needs to present evidence before assassinating the U.S. citizen”, Jason Ditz wrote yesterday at AntiWar News.
To which the Administration “is fighting tooth and nail”, he added, to “kill” the suit—citing The Bushian Imperial Presidency philosophy:
In fact the papers filed by the Justice Department attempting to quash the case argue that the court system should have absolutely no oversight over the administration’s sudden, bizarre claim that it can assassinate any American citizen it wants on the basis of nation security, arguing that such issues are “for the executive branch of the government to decide rather than the courts.”Though officials have alleged that Awlaki has active ties to Al Qaeda, they have never presented publicly any evidence of this claim, and cite “state secrets” to the court as one of the many reasons they should never have to. Instead officials point to Awlaki’s well publicized sermons criticizing American foreign policy as proof that he is a threat.
The assertion of the authoritarian “state secrets” privilege by the Administration is—as constitutional lawyer and Salon blogger Glenn Greenwald wrote over the weekend—“an all-new low in its abysmal civil liberties record”, adding:
As a reminder: Obama supporters who are dutifully insisting that the President not only has the right to order American citizens killed without due process, but to do so in total secrecy, on the ground that Awlaki is a Terrorist and Traitor, are embracing those accusations without having the slightest idea whether they’re actually true. All they know is that Obama has issued these accusations, which is good enough for them. That’s the authoritarian mind, by definition: if the Leader accuses a fellow citizen of something, then it’s true — no trial or any due process at all is needed and there is no need even for judicial review before the decreed sentence is meted out, even when the sentence is death.For those reciting the “Awlaki-is-a-traitor” mantra, there’s also the apparently irrelevant matter that Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution (the document which these same Obama supporters pretended to care about during the Bush years) provides that “No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.” Treason is a crime that the Constitution specifically requires be proven with due process in court, not by unilateral presidential decree. And that’s to say nothing of the fact that the same document—the Constitution—expressly forbids the deprivation of life “without due process of law.” This one sentence from [The Washington Post] article nicely summarizes the state of Obama’s civil liberties record:
The Obama administration has cited the state-secrets argument in at least three cases since taking office—in defense of Bush-era warrantless wiretapping, surveillance of an Islamic charity, and the torture and rendition of C.I.A. prisoners.
And now, in this case, Obama uses this secrecy and immunity weapon not to shield Bush lawlessness from judicial review, but his own.
Mr. Greenwald also added that Charlie Savage at The New York Times “wrote about the possibility that Obama might raise this argument“.