Conservative Political Commentary

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Lawlessness in High Places



Dreamstime.com

President Obama has many times shown his disdain for the United States Constitution. One example is his defiance of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which held that his “recess” appointments of National Labor Relations Board members were unconstitutional. These appointees have participated in many decisions since their appointments including several since the court decision. Obama has now officially nominated them for these positions, but has them still in place making decisions. The court decision has been ignored by the president

If the Administration followed the rule of law, these appointees would have been relieved of their duties until a final decision comes from the Supreme Court, or, if the Supreme Court chose not to handle this case, the Appeals Court ruling would be regarded as final. Or so I think as a non-lawyer. So far, the Administration has not appealed the decision.

This kind of blatant disregard of law is only too common in the Obama Administration. Many of the violations of the rule of law and the principle of checks and balances have been chronicled, ranging from “czars” who wield cabinet-level-type authority but have had no Senate confirmation, to crony capitalist deals that have resulted in business failures following multi-million-dollar government payouts (with executives getting large bonuses).

Now we’re told that the Executive Branch has given itself the “authority” to kill American citizens who are not engaged in warfare against the U.S. at the time, but are believed by high-level bureaucrats to be associated with al-Qaida or some affiliated group. They’ve already killed three American citizens without so much as offering them an opportunity to surrender and without an attempt to capture them. They have interpreted the Constitution to mean little to nothing and therefore, they’re free to act as not only policeman, but judge, jury, and executioner. Due process? Forget it. This, of course, is in line with the government’s recently asserted position of being authorized to detain American citizens indefinitely.

As Andrew Napolitano describes it,

President Obama willingly admits he dispatched CIA agents to kill an American and his teenage son and the son's American friend while they were in a desert in Yemen in 2011. He says he did so because the adult had encouraged folks to wage war on the United States and the children were just “collateral damage.” He says further that he'll do this again when he is convinced that killing Americans will keep America safe. He says he knows the adult encouraged evil, and his encouragement caused the deaths of innocents. The adult was never charged with a crime or indicted by a grand jury; he was just targeted for death by the president himself and executed by a CIA drone.
[Emphasis added]

The president and his advisors are fond of invoking some supposedly higher principle to justify their lawlessness, like “keeping people safe” to justify drone killings of citizens, trying to deny Second Amendment rights, rogue regulators, and TSA groping and nude scanners; “intellectual property protection” to go after people who have done nothing wrong just on the basis of someone’s complaint, and subjecting people to criminal charges for what should be a civil matter. And so on.

The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, in part, states the following:

…nor shall any person be subject for the same offence be to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law…     [Emphasis added]
Article. III., Section 3 of the Constitution states as follows:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. 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.

The Congress shall have the Power to declare the Punishment of Treaon, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

Corruption of blood is defined as follows:


(Law) taint or impurity of blood, in consequence of an act of attainder of treason or felony, by which a person is disabled from inheriting any estate or from transmitting it to others.
As Napolitano points out, there is no thought given to due process in drone killings. Now we are going to have drones patrolling our own country. How long until armed drones start taking out people the Administration finds objectionable, due to some perceived future threat? Of course, there might be “collateral damage,” but c’est la vie. What a tool to go after people who didn’t pay their taxes, or who spoke out against the abuses of government in some way that was politically uncomfortable. As far-fetched as it seems (and I wish it truly were), these things are not all that far from where we are now.

Beyond the question of a formal declaration of war, the constitutional rights abuse inherent in this and other Obama policies should be thoroughly investigated by Congress, a body whose authority Obama habitually usurps. So far, little has been done to try to stop this trend.

The possibility of establishing a secret court to authorize these killings is “unthinkable” according to Napolitano, and to do so would do nothing to make these things constitutional.

This is how dictatorships get started.

Pat Buchanan has written,

As killing a U.S. citizen is a graver deed than waterboarding a terrorist plotter to get information to save lives, Obama, who bewailed Bush’s detention, rendition and interrogation policies, appears guilty of manifest hypocrisy.

But with 3,000 to 4,500 now killed by drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen over 10 years, and an estimated 200 children and other civilians among the “collateral damage,” it is past time for a debate on where we are going in this “war on terror.”

Beyond the killing of Americans, which is manifestly unconstitutional, the overall question of drone killing needs to be examined.

Bill Wilson at Americans for Limited Government’s NetRightDaily website writes,

Where this ends is anyone’s guess.

For example, it is hard to see where geography would come into play under the type of precedent that is being created. Would the authorization to use military force against U.S. citizens also apply to U.S. soil?

The answer is, if this Administration, or any administration, merely took a broader view of what Congress has authorized it to do, geography would be no limitation whatsoever to the exercise of war powers here.

While the memo may not have been intended to address “what might be required to render a lethal operation against a U.S. citizen lawful in other circumstances,” it did not need to. It would essentially be the same argument.

The very serious concerns about spy drones and surveillance drones on American soil pale in comparison to the possible domestic use of armed drones to kill Americans. This Administration believes it can justify practically anything, so don’t be too shocked if this is the next step. What should shock us is that so little is apparently being done to stop it or even strongly question it. Judge Napolitano, Senator Rand Paul, and a few others are very concerned, but the Administration will likely just label them as “libertarian extremists” and go further on their merry way in this new incarnation of Stalinism.
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