Glenn Greenwald on Holder's defense of targeted killing of U.S. citizens

Writing in Salon Glenn Greenwald has a long article criticising Attorney General's Eric Holder defense of the practice of targeted killing used by the Obama administration.

As Greenwald points out a citizen (or anyone else) can be targeted to be wiped out by the CIA by drones, special forces or whatever means without being charged, notified of their status, or having any opportunity to do anything in their defense. Suspects are simply condemned to death. There is no transparency in the process or judicial oversight.

Critics note that Holder's speech contained no footnotes nor legal citations. Holder says that some people argue that the president should get permission from a court before they "take action" against a U.S. citizen who is a senior operational leader of Al Qeada or associated forces. Taking action is a euphemism for targeted killing however the more exact terminology is not allowed into Holder's speech. Holder wants the background frame to be that of a war. However in Obamatalk that terminology is banned as well even though war is the legal framework from which Holder argues. Holder argues that what the U.S. constitution guarantees is due process rather than legal process. Greenwald then goes on to spell out what this due process is in fact.

The phrase someone "who is a senior operational leader of Al Qaeda or associated forces," means someone the President has accused and then decreed in secret to be a Terrorist without ever proving it with evidence.

U.S. citizens are placed on a kill or capture list by a panel of senior officials who are members of the White House National Security Council. The panel then informs the president of the names on the list. Decisions of the panel or any record of its operations are never made public. There is not even any law that establishes the panel or that sets out any rules for its operation. This is what Holder calls due process under the U.S. constitution. If a Bush official had spouted tripe such as this there would be a huge uproar.

The president makes the ultimate decision as to whether anyone on the list is killed or not killed. Greenwald gives a caustic summary of this so-called due process:"The President and his underlings are your accuser, your judge, your jury and your executioner all wrapped up in one, acting in total secrecy and without your even knowing that he's accused you and sentenced you to death, and you have no opportunity even to know about, let alone confront and address, his accusations; is that not enough due process for you? ""

This is just a sample from Greenwald's long article. Greenwald points out that if justifications such as Holder gives were presented under the Bush administration every Liberal Democrat would be up in arms and outraged at the violation of the rights of U.S. citizens. But in an election year with Obama as president few liberals are speaking out. In fact the most caustic criticism of targeted killing of Americans has come from libertarians such as Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul. For more see the full article.


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