Are you on the CIA’s Kill List?
If you are, you will never know. The list and the panel members who decide which Americans are targeted remain under a cloak of secrecy. The panel, a subset of the National Security Council made up of senior government officials, is camouflaged within the government’s national security operations unit, far from press scrutiny, according to a new report by Reuters.
The “kill-list” panel exists but doesn’t exist. It is plausible, but its existence is deniable. How? There is no public record of its proceedings. And there is no law governing or justifying its existence. (Joshua Norman, CBS News, World Watch) In other words, the panel members and others have made sure they are beyond the finger of the law. There is no law governing their actions because there is no proof of their actions. There is only the result: the assassination of an American-born al Qaeda cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki which has raised the question, Do American citizens abroad have the right to due process? Should they be extradited, tried and proven guilty under the law?
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration’s secret legal memorandum that opened the door to the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born radical Muslim cleric hiding in Yemen, found that it would be lawful only if it were not feasible to take him alive, according to people who have read the document.
The memo, written last year, followed months of extensive interagency deliberations and offers a glimpse into the legal debate that led to one of the most significant decisions made by President Obama — to move ahead with the killing of an American citizen without a trial.
The secret document provided the justification for acting despite an executive order banning assassinations, a federal law against murder, protections in the Bill of Rights and various strictures of the international laws of war, according to people familiar with the analysis. The memo, however, was narrowly drawn to the specifics of Mr. Awlaki’s case and did not establish a broad new legal doctrine to permit the targeted killing of any Americans believed to pose a terrorist threat.
Read the full story breaking now at Secret U.S. Memo Made Legal Case to Kill a Citizen – NYTimes.com.
The Killing of Anwar al-Awlaki – Should A President Have Unchecked Authority
U.S. Drone Attack kills American Born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki connected to Ft. Hood Shootings
Has Al Qaeda Become Irrelevant?
Further Reading – The Bill of Rights: Due Process of Law
One of the most deeply rooted principles in American jurisprudence is the concept of due process of law, which is enshrined in the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: “No person shall . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”
Due process of law actually stretches back to the year 1215, when the great barons of England extracted an admission from their king that his powers over the citizenry were not unlimited but instead were limited by fundamental principles of fairness and justice. Included among the restrictions on power to which King John acceded in the Magna Carta — the Great Charter — was a prohibition against the exercise of arbitrary seizure of people or their property by government officials:
No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land.
Over the centuries, that phrase — “the law of the land” — gradually evolved into the phrase “due process of law,” the same phrase our American ancestors insisted be made part of the Constitution through the adoption of the Fifth Amendment.