Is This Russia? Part III

I am alarmed that, at this point, posts titled “Is this Russia?” qualify as a series. But while the first two installments dealt with the Big Brotherhood of the Department of HHS, this one is much more plainly chilling. Here’s an excerpt from an ACLU release that I still cannot totally believe I am reading in the United States in 2012:

“Few things are as dangerous to American liberty as the proposition that the government should be able to kill citizens anywhere in the world on the basis of legal standards and evidence that are never submitted to a court, either before or after the fact. Anyone willing to trust President Obama with the power to secretly declare an American citizen an enemy of the state and order his extrajudicial killing should ask whether they would be willing to trust the next president with that dangerous power.”

Bold is mine for OMG WTF? But apparently, this is necessary, because Attorney General Eric Holder made a speech attempting to justify how we can assassinate our own citizens, basically crossing the Rubicon into the nightmare-fuel that drove every founder of this country to get it together on that Constitution/Bill of Rights stuff.

Here’s Glenn Greenwald, doing the yeoman’s work showing that not long ago, both Obama and Holder held the not-at-all-unreasonable position that giving the government a blank check when it comes to locking up and/or murdering people is, uh, troubling:

Throughout the Bush years, then-Sen. Obama often spoke out so very eloquently about the Vital Importance of Due Process even for accused Terrorists. As but one example, he stood up on the Senate floor and denounced Bush’s Guantanamo detentions on the ground that a “perfectly innocent individual could be held and could not rebut the Government’s case and has no way of proving his innocence.” He spoke of “the terror I would feel if one of my family members were rounded up in the middle of the night and sent to Guantanamo without even getting one chance to ask why they were being held and being able to prove their innocence.” He mocked the right-wing claim “that judicial inquiry is an antique, trivial and dispensable luxury.” He acknowledged that the Government will unavoidably sometimes make mistakes in accusing innocent people of being Terrorists, but then provided the obvious solution: “what is avoidable is refusing to ever allow our legal system to correct these mistakes.” How moving is all that? What a stirring tribute to the urgency of allowing accused Terrorists a day in court before punishing them.

Then we have Eric Holder, who in 2008 gave a speech to the American Constitution Society denouncing Bush’s executive power radicalism and calling for a “public reckoning.” He specifically addressed the right-wing claim that Presidents should be allowed to eavesdrop on accused Terrorists without judicial review in order to Keep Us Safe. In light of what the Attorney General said and justified yesterday, just marvel at what he said back then, a mere three years ago:

To those in the Executive branch who say “just trust us” when it comes to secret and warrantless surveillance of domestic communications I say remember your history. In my lifetime, federal government officials wiretapped, harassed and blackmailed Martin Luther King and other civil rights leader in the name of national security. One of America’s greatest heroes whom today we honor with a national holiday, countless streets, schools and soon a monument in his name, was treated like a criminal by those in our federal government possessed of too much discretion and a warped sense of patriotism. Watergate revealed similar abuses during the Nixon administration.

To recap Barack Obama’s view: it is a form of “terror” for someone to be detained “without even getting one chance to prove their innocence,” but it is good and noble for them to be executed under the same circumstances. To recap Eric Holder’s view: we must not accept when the Bush administration says “just trust us” when it comes to spying on the communications of accused Terrorists, but we must accept when the Obama administration says “just trust us” when it comes to targeting our fellow citizens for execution. As it turns out, it’s not 9/11/01 that Changed Everything. It’s 1/20/09.

Wow. Well, I’ve got a new idea to get voting numbers up – let’s just remind the populace that whoever you’re electing could one day use the military to murder you and not really check with anybody….so think really hard about who you’re voting for in November, since they’re President Dredd and whatnot.

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4 thoughts on “Is This Russia? Part III

  1. I agree, this is going to have some unforeseen consequences, to put it mildly.  In the individual situation, we can agree Al Alwaki needed to go, but the principle is going to be tougher to establish.

  2. Actually, aren’t the consequences explicitly foreseen? In that you, me, and a whole host of other people are seeing them, and realizing they are very bad?

  3. Pingback: Is This Russia? Part IV | pro se

  4. Pingback: So a Russian Autocrat Walks into an Eastern European Nation…. | pro se

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