March 19, 2012

the-cogitator asked: Might I ask what your feelings are about Attorney General Eric Holder's remarks that 'judicial process' and 'due process' are not the same in regard to the assassination of US citizens?

"Few exercises of judicial power are as legitimate or as necessary as the responsibility to hear challenges to the authority of the Executive to imprison a person." - Boumediene v. Bush , 555 U.S. 723 (2008) (Kennedy, J.).

If prison is tantamount to a denial of freedom, then death, by definition, is the ultimate prison.  

Eric Holder’s justification for DP-free assassination is possibly one of the most shameful moments in DOJ history since John Yoo authored the Torture Memos.   It is Kafkaesque in its totalitarian absurdity, in that it has an ever-so-slight, gossamer-thin wisp of legal coherence lending it a thin viscera of credibility.  However, that credibility disappears upon even the slightest scrutiny.

In 2009, the DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility conducted a review in which they reprimanded John Yoo for knowingly fail[ing] to provide a thorough, objective, and candid interpretation of the law.”  Eric Holder ought to receive similar scrutiny.  He is a competent attorney in many ways, but he should not be allowed to live this one down. His legal justification for DP-free assassination is essentially a metaphorical clean-sweep of the separation of powers.  Keep in mind that the administration is contending for the power to kill whoever they think deserves to be killed without any judicial scrutiny whatsoever.  This is literally the most extreme deprivation of rights that a government can possibly undertake.  If this is not subject to judicial review, then what possibly could be?  The implications are obvious and staggering upon even a moment’s reflection.

The principle which Holder and the administration contend for has been clearly contradicted by the Supreme Court on numerous occasions.  The invocation of “war-time” powers, and reliance on Bush-era legal doctrines to justify DP-free assassination lists, are the same abuses of executive authority that we all got mad about under W.’s tenure.  We shouldn’t tolerate it from a democratic president either.  Especially not from a democratic president.

Some people respond by pointing out that we no longer torture.  They’re right.  Now we just blow you up with a drone missile, which I guess in its own way, is more humane.  And beneath the absurdity of it all is an exercise of raw executive power done in the name of “keeping us safe,” when in reality, the net effect of that power, exercised without any reasonable external restraints, is exactly the opposite.  Kafka would indeed be proud.

  1. jonathan-cunningham said: This was extremely informative, thanks!
  2. laliberty said: Two caveats: The state is not “we.” And I have no reason to believe that the state no longer tortures.
  3. letterstomycountry posted this