They do this every Tuesday morning when the
leader is in town. The leader once condemned any practice even close to
this, but now relishes the killing because he has convinced himself that it
is a sane and sterile way to keep his country safe and himself in power. The
leader, who is running for re-election, even invited his campaign manager to
join the group that decides whom to kill.
Two Times journalists, Jo Becker and
painstakingly and chillingly reported that the former
lecturer in constitutional law and liberal senator who railed against
torture and Gitmo now weekly reviews a secret kill list, personally decides
who should be killed and then dispatches killers all over the world - and
some of his killers have killed Americans.
By that I mean he is using the CIA on his own - and not the military after congressional authorization - to fire drones at thousands of persons in foreign lands, usually while they are riding in a car or a truck. He has done this both with the consent and over the objection of the governments of the countries in which he has killed.
He doesn't want to talk about this, but he doesn't deny it.
In a word: No.
Under the Constitution, he can only order killing using the military,
Under federal law, he can only order killing using civilians when a person has been sentenced lawfully to death by a federal court and the jury verdict and the death sentence have been upheld on appeal.
If he uses the military to kill, federal law requires public
reports of its use to Congress and congressional approval after 180 days.
Under no circumstances may he use civilian agents for non-judicial killing. Surely, CIA agents can use deadly force to protect themselves, but they may not use it offensively.
Federal laws against murder apply to the
president and to all federal agents and personnel, wherever they go on the
In the name of fighting demons in pick-up trucks and wars that Congress has never declared, the government,
Obama has argued that his careful consideration of each person he orders killed and the narrow use of deadly force are an adequate and constitutional substitute for due process.
The Constitution provides for no such thing.
He has also argued that the use of drones to do his killing is humane since they are "surgical" and only kill their targets. We know that is incorrect. And he has argued that these killings are consistent with our values.
What is he talking about? The essence of our
values is the rule of law, not the rule of presidents.