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Obama's Police State: Refusal to say if assassination powers are limited

In short, there is no limit on where this presidential, monarchical, power may be used, or against whom, citizen or foreigner, on US soil or foreign territory ostensibly involved in the War On Terror (son of Great War on Terror) -- the glorious Global Battlefield..

This makes our voting last November the election of the Criminal in Chief, Commander in Chief, and President. Now that's one unholy trinity.

In his post today, Glenn Greenwald explains why this is so important. He nicely skewers Obama for flip-flopping: He was against secret executive rules and legal opinions, under Bush/Cheney, before he was for them, for himself and his admnistration.

You know who once claimed to understand the grave dangers from maintaining secret law? Barack Obama. On 16 April 2009, it was reported that Obama would announce whether he would declassify and release the Bush-era OLC memos that authorized torture. On that date, I wrote: "today is the most significant test yet determining the sincerity of Barack Obama's commitment to restore the Constitution, transparency and the rule of law." When it was announced that Obama would release those memos over the vehement objections of the CIA, I lavished him with praise for that, writing that "the significance of Obama's decision to release those memos - and the political courage it took - shouldn't be minimized". The same lofty reasoning Obama invoked to release those Bush torture memos clearly applies to his own assassination memos, yet his vaunted belief in transparency when it comes to "secret law" obviously applies only to George Bush and not himself.


Critically, the documents that are being concealed by the Obama administration are not operational plans or sensitive secrets. They are legal documents that, like the leaked white paper, simply purport to set forth the president's legal powers of execution and assassination. As Democratic lawyers relentlessly pointed out when the Bush administration also concealed legal memos authorizing presidential powers, keeping such documents secret is literally tantamount to maintaining "secret law". These are legal principles governing what the president can and cannot do - purported law - and US citizens are being barred from knowing what those legal claims are.

Greenwald goes on to point out how the release memos on executive assassination powers does not limit that power as to geographic location in any way. or even to assassinations alone. Also, acceptance of Obama's claim to this power becomes precedent for presidents who follow him, regardless of the ethical niceties Obama might feel he brings to exercising such powers.

Glenn quotes a portion of Charlie Pierce's post from 2/21, on why these secret laws are so dangerous and how they extend the idea of the monarchical presidency:

That this is even an issue - that this question even has to be asked and the president can so easily get away with refusing to answer - is a potent indicator of how quickly and easily even the most tyrannical powers become normalized. About all of this, Esquire's Charles Pierce yesterday put it perfectly:

This is why the argument many liberals are making - that the drone program is acceptable both morally and as a matter of practical politics because of the faith you have in the guy who happens to be presiding over it at the moment -- is criminally naive, intellectually empty, and as false as blue money to the future. The powers we have allowed to leach away from their constitutional points of origin into that office have created in the presidency a foul strain of outlawry that (worse) is now seen as the proper order of things.

If that is the case, and I believe it is, then the very nature of the presidency of the United States at its core has become the vehicle for permanently unlawful behavior. Every four years, we elect a new criminal because that's become the precise job description.

Strong stuff to think about: Every four years we are asked to elect our Criminal in Chief. How does that square with the US Constitution? What do Republicans say about Originalism when this topic comes up? How did this become, as Greenwald writes, so "normalized" so quickly? All due to fear

Also, note that it is Sen. Rand Paul who is asking the most precise and strong questions of Obama about the extent of his claimed powers. He goes where Dems must tread lightly, even fear to go.

(My emphasis in quotes)


Submitted by lambert on

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