Thursday, February 7, 2013

Killing a U.S. citizen without due process and torture – what’s the difference?

By Marc Jampole

For about 10 years, I have been embarrassed for my country because our leaders condoned and committed torture, and even dreamed up fanciful legal justifications.
Perhaps the most odious of the legal arguments made by the Bush II administration for sticking someone’s head under water until near drowning and hanging them cold and naked by their arms for hours was that if the President ordered it, it could not by definition be illegal.
Now we see this justification used again, and this time by the administration of Barack Obama.  I am not only embarrassed for my country, but personally ashamed since I voted for the guy—twice.
But mostly I’m angry.
Obama’s legal team is essentially saying that it’s okay to murder a U.S. citizen if the president says it’s okay. What about due process? That’s a nicety that gets lost because the assumption is that we’re talking about terrorists in other countries whom we intend to take out with a clean drone hit.
Of course, that’s today. Tomorrow it could be in our own country. Or it could be with a bullet or strangulation. Or maybe an auto accident that kills a few innocent bystanders.  Of course, that’s all slippery slope speculation, except for those familiar with the secret history of the CIA and U.S. military. I advise readers to review the deaths of Allende or Diem. It’s not a matter of one thing leading to another, it’s a matter of publicly acknowledging something the U.S. government has done for decades, only now saying that it’s legal.
The drone makes it impossible to deny American involvement in state ordered assassination. At least until other nations get a hold of drone technology, which they will.
I have nothing against the U.S. use of drones, but only against legitimate enemies enrolled in real armies during real battles. Drones on real battlefields make a lot of sense. The problem is that all you can do with a drone is kill. If they figure out the robotics to capture and transport the accused to a military base, drones would become a wonderful tool for terrorists.
But U.S. citizens and non-combatants of all nationalities all deserve the due process that is denied someone by a drone killing. They deserve due process, but more importantly, so do the American people.
Whether by drone or bullet, killing a U.S. citizen without first giving that person a trial is illegal and un-American.  The President should take some time off from pandering to gun enthusiasts with target practice photo ops and look deep into his heart and ask himself if he really wants to be remembered with Kennedy, LBJ, Nixon and Bush II as perpetrators of illegal state violence.

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