“That he should die is worthy policy;
But yet we want a colour for his death:
‘Tis meet he be condemn’d by course of law.”
(King Henry VI, part 2, act 3, sc. 1)
… so says Cardinal Beaufort who wants to assassinate the Duke of Gloucester. But, as you see, the Cardinal and his associates want at least to find an excuse to kill (“a colour for his death”), and kill within the law (“‘Tis meet he be condemn’d by course of law“).
As of yesterday, this is not so (officially) for the Obama administration. The president has the right to assassinate American citizens within the United States, without charges or any legal process.
The claim, contained in a letter from Attorney General Eric Holder, essentially abolishes constitutional rights established in the Constitution and implied in the Declaration of Independence. The measure provides a pseudo-legal framework for military rule.
The Attorney General’s asserted power to extrajudicially kill Americans in their homes is contained in a letter and this extraordinary measure was confirmed before a Senate Judiciary Committee. Furthermore, added Holder, the authorization to use military force in the “war on terror” extends to the United States territory proper. “The President – said Holder in a written statement – has the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a US citizen on US soil, and without trial.”
In other words, the executive and the military can decide that using the local police is not the “best means” of responding to an undefined threat – therefore the military can kill at will. Or, to quote the actual words, in undefined “extraordinary circumstances,” the president could “authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States.”
What are “extraordinary circumstances”? Holder cites Pearl Harbor in 1941 and the attacks of September 11, 2001.
The comparisons are questionable. One was a full-scale military attack by the Japan against the USA. As for Sep 11 there is growing doubt against the official explanation of the event (see the March 4, 2013 blog Shakespeare on the Overwhelming Power of Illusion
At issue, however, is not a response to a military invasion, but the claim that the administration has the right to assassinate American citizens in the United States who are not engaged in any hostile actions.
The administration has already killed at least three US citizens abroad, including a father and his 16 year old son in Yemen.
Bottom line: the Bill of Right is de facto dead at will !!
Needless to say, the measure drew praise from both sides of the aisle. One more evidence – were it ever necessary – that Obama was thrust forward as a brand. He functions as an icon of suggestive mass psychology. Very similar to when Calvin Klein and Benetton started showing African American models affected by HIV. The idea was to associate their brand with progressive politics and a risqué lifestyle. No wonder that in 2008 Obama was awarded the prize of “marketer of the year”
The conclusion? Anyone declared by the president to be an “enemy combatant,” including American citizens in the United States, can be summarily executed without any judicial review.
A libertarian senator, Ted Cruz, asked Holder whether the president had the constitutional authority to assassinate an American citizen in the United States with a drone while that person was “sitting quietly in a cafe.”
After the usual Orwellian dose of new-speak words and convoluted sentences, Holder concluded that the said American citizen sipping his coffee could be taken out by a drone if he were an “imminent” threat. Where, however, the criteria for “imminence” are left to the president and the military.
Holder’s comments aroused almost no comment from the American media. The abrogation of the Bill of Rights provokes little more than a few serendipitous comments.
Many believe that the essential target of these measures is the emergence of domestic opposition within the United States to the policies of the financial elite that controls both big-business parties. Under conditions of deepening polarization, and as the ruling class is implementing measures that are overwhelmingly opposed by the vast majority of the population, the government is actively preparing dictatorial forms of rule.
And history has given sufficient evidence that an empire turns eventually against its own people.
In the play. Cardinal Beaufort wants to assassinate the Duke of Gloucester, lord protector of Henry VI. Along with Suffolk and other equivalent CIA agents of the time, they discuss the best option.