Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Commentary

February 12, 2013

Dick Cheney's revenge

Will the author of the Obama administration white paper on killing U.S. citizens please report for his war-crimes trial right away?

If he served in the George W. Bush administration, someone would already be agitating for his extraordinary rendition to The Hague. The white paper outlines why the Obama administration believes that it can kill U.S. citizens involved in al-Qaida without due process. This is not a merely theoretical question, as Anwar al-Awlaki found out from the business end of a Hellfire missile a couple of years ago in Yemen.

The left is still furious that the Bush administration waterboarded three captured terrorists after Sept. 11, 2001. Yet, with a few exceptions, it has blithely accepted the Obama administration's extrajudicial assassination policy that has killed about 1,000 times as many people.

During the Bush years, a small army of former Democratic officials, law professors, op-ed writers, and bloggers blasted the Bush administration as dangerous and un-American for asserting the executive branch's war powers, aka "trampling the Constitution."

Barack Obama was going to be different. We had this on the highest possible authority: Barack Obama. As a senator in 2007, he set out his contrasting vision: "We will again set an example for the world that the law is not subject to the whims of stubborn rulers, and that justice is not arbitrary."

In a speech as president in 2009, he said we must fight al-Qaida. "But," he added, pointedly, "we must do so with an abiding confidence in the rule of law and due process; in checks and balances and accountability."

The white paper outlines what that looks like in practice. If an "informed, high-level official" of the Obama administration determines that a U.S. citizen is one of the "senior operational leaders" of al-Qaida and "recently" involved in "activities" related to a violent attack against the United States, well then, he can be terminated with extreme prejudice.

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