Unpacking the Ramifications of Obama’s Targeted Killing Memo

Drones

Rosa Brooks unpacks the Obama JD’s targeted killing memo: “Like many legal documents, this one does fine on its own terms, but looks a lot less satisfying when taken out of its hermetically sealed legal universe.”

Related: John Fugelsang talks with Harper’s Scott Horton and Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK about the kill memo and a possible slippery slope into domestic assassination:

Update: Via Jack Goldsmith, two different takes on the white paper — first, Jeffrey Rosen is outraged:

The Justice Department white paper released on Monday by NBC News is the public’s first direct glimpse at the legal reasoning that the Obama administration relied on in using a drone strike to kill Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen living in Yemen. The memo’s arguments are troubling on many levels. Although the Obama administration’s brief is directed at the assassination of Americans abroad, the arguments it offers could apply with equal force to the assassination of Americans at home; lawyers for the Bush administration who tried to justify lesser outrages have been pilloried for supporting torture. But perhaps most troubling is the administration’s attempt to redefine the idea of the kind of “imminent threat” that can justify a targeted assassination. . . .

There are other reasons to object to the administration’s justification of targeted assassinations—including its questionable claim that they are legally supported by Congress’s authorization of the use of force after 9/11. On pragmatic grounds, the administration’s brief is a disaster: As the Church Commission found after studying the attempted assassinations of Castro, targeted killings are likely to produce an international backlash that threatens far more American lives than they protect. But, as a legal matter, the casual, and unpersuasive, attempt to read out of American constitutional law the principle that government can only kill citizens in order to prevent imminent death or violence in return is the most objectionable of all.

And then there’s Eric Posner, who is not so outraged (and wonders what all the fuss is about):

So far, the reporting on the leaked white paper from the Justice Department about drone attacks clearly assumes that we are supposed to be outraged by the Obama administration’s legal theories, just as we were supposed to be outraged by the Bush administration’s. And outrage is being dutifully ginned up. But the memo is utterly conventional as legal analysis; its arguments could easily have been predicted. . . .

Obama and Bush administration lawyers have stretched the Constitution and traditional rules of international law to accommodate the threat posed by terrorism. Some people will say they violated the law. But given the political consensus supporting these moves within the U.S., it is more accurate to say that the law has evolved. It gives the president the discretion he needs, or at least wants, to address an amorphous threat. Let’s hope he uses that discretion wisely.

Quite the leap of faith, that (YMMV).

More from Goldsmith here and here, and from Ben “Keep Calm and Carry On Killing The Wogs” Wittes, who thinks this is all much ado about nothing.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney On Targeted Killing: Lethal Strikes On U.S. Citizens ‘Legal,’ ‘Ethical,’ And ‘Wise’

Words fail (h/t):

A friendly reminder from TAFKAdnA:

The Obama administration claims that the secret judgment of a single “well-informed high level administration official” meets the demands of due process and is sufficient justification to kill an American citizen suspected of working with terrorists. That procedure is entirely secret. Thus it’s impossible to know which rules the administration has established to protect due process and to determine how closely those rules are followed. The government needs the approval of a judge to detain a suspected terrorist. To kill one, it need only give itself permission.

“Trust me” != due process, Mr. POTUS.

Related: Thomas P.M. Barnett:

For now, the only club whose membership can earn you such a “pre-sentence” is al-Qaeda, but how many dangerous organizations (you tell me where to put the sarcastic quotation marks on that phrase) will be added to this list in the years and decades ahead?

[...]

This is an extremely dangerous rule-set for America to be exporting around the world: threaten or scare of just plain piss off the wrong great-power government, and it reserves the right to assassinate you at will.  The quid pro quos are easy to imagine:  you, China, turn your back when we need to kill ours and . . . America can probably do the same when you take out those “protestors” (I mean, terrorists!).

I just have to ask: how does Obama lecture Netanyahu about anything at this point?

Deja Vu All Over Again (And Again, And Again, And…)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, Canuckistan:

Stephen Harper is leaving the door open once again to extending Canada’s military participation in the costly Afghanistan war.

When the Official Opposition NDP pressed the Prime Minister on Wednesday about reports the United States has asked Canada to stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014, Mr. Harper said the government would “examine all options.”

[...]

If the Prime Minister extended Canada’s military deployment beyond 2014, it would be the fourth time he has prolonged the soldiering commitment to Afghanistan – including 2006, 2008 and 2010.

Speaking in the Commons on Wednesday, Mr. Harper denied reports the United States has asked Canada to keep special forces soldiers in Afghanistan past 2014, his latest promised date for withdrawal.

As our new Leader of the Official Opposition aptly noted during Question Period yesterday, Canadians “want this mission to end. It was supposed to end in 2006. It was supposed to end in 2009. It was supposed to end in 2011. It is supposed to end in 2014. When will it finally end?””

Oh, and that last excerpted bit I highlighted, where the PM denies reports that Uncle Sam is trying to keep Canada in the Great Game for another Friedman or three? Methinks Mr. Harper is being a little coy. Mealsothinks that it’s a damn good thing Afghanistan is (for now, anyway) almost completely under the Campaign 2012 Village radar.

Because, considering the collective combat exhaustion of the USian polity, the last thing the Obama team needs are ill-timed reports that it’s secretly planning to continue America’s excellent (and highly unpopular) imperial Central Asian misadventure past it’s latest expiration date.

(Originally posted at Agonist.org)

IOKIYAR to Infinity.

Ok, so I know IOKIYAR is (and has been for ages) SOP in DC. Still, the manner in which the Village took Rosengate oh-so seriously (and turned it up TO ELEVEN) but is now suddenly backpeddling re: The Nuge’s semi-coherent call for Obama’s assassination (gosh, campaign surrogates sure do say the darndest things!*) is especially galling.

Steve M. breaks it down:

 [T]he press will shrug off Nugent because the press has been in denial for years about just how insane right-wingers are. No matter what angry, extreme, menacing, paranoid thing right-wingers are up to, the press is always looking for signs that it’s all just a silly phase, all just the work of a few outliers.

Mainstream journalists don’t want to admit that the vast majority of people in the right-wing base agree with every word Nugent said.

They certainly don’t want to believe that there’s any genuine connection between what Nugent said and Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney! Such an upstanding, responsible man! (Never mind that Romney has done the gang initiation and become one of the right-wing crazies. Never mind that his campaign actively sought out Nugent’s endorsement.)

The press acknowledged that Limbaugh’s Sandra Fluke remarks were extreme, and mocked Santorum surrogate Foster Friess. But now it’s Romney we’re talking about — the guy who reassures the press that the GOP is perfectly safe and responsible. Unless Romney picks a Palinesque running mate, no one in the press is ever going to believe that any right-wing extremism has anything to do with him — or his voter base, even though what Nugent said precisely captures that base’s thinking.

I don’t believe the Beltway is starting to fall for Romney like it did McMaverick (tire swing!) But without question Village refs are far more easily worked by sharp-elbowed wingnuts than by progressive interests. Plus, Mittens’ rep as a flag twisting in the political winds perversely appeals to reflexively cynical Villager scorn for anything that resembles sincerity & passion (oh so savvy!)

Which is (sadly) good news for Mitt Romney and bad news for those who appreciate reality that is unobstructed by the fuzzy view from the bottom of some stenographic wanker’s highball.

*Politico may titter at wingnut incitement of violence towards members of the US Federal government — including POTUS — but the Secret Service sure doesn’t.

Etch-A-Mitt Shakes Things Up Again: Welfare Moms Better Off With “The Dignity of Work”

Via Ryan Grim (ICYMI):

Apparently Ann Romney forgot to mention to Willard that moms who don’t work outside the home do THE MOST IMPORTANT JOB IN THE WORLD!!!1 and already have ample dignity, thankyouverymuchyousupersexistsoand…

oh, wait — Mittens meant those moms — y’know, the ones who can’t afford dignity.

Sorry. They gotsta earn their Caddies (if not teh car elevators).

Related: Pay no attention to the ongoing war on women voting.

The Pre-Butterfly Effect

Gee, I can’t imagine why the gender gap between the Democratic Party and the GOP has widened into a yawning chasm:

HUNT: Let me ask you this. The Democrats of course say you are waging, the GOP is waging a war on women. I know you don’t agree with that, but looking at the polls, you have a gender gap problem. Recent polls show a huge, huge margin for Democrats among women voters. How big a problem is it? How do you close it?
PRIEBUS: Well, for one thing, if the Democrats said we had a war on caterpillars, and mainstream media outlet talked about the fact that Republicans have a war on caterpillars, then we have problems with caterpillars. The fact of the matter is it’s a fiction and this started a war against the Vatican that this president pursued. He still hasn’t answered Archbishop Dolan’s issues with Obama world and Obamacare, so I think that’s the first issue.

Don’t worry, ladies (Or should I say larvae?). I’m sure Ann Romney will be happy to take some of your concerns down for the boys to look at later, once they’ve finished girding their loins for the latest pre-fab Culture War skirmish.

I hear she’s an absolute wiz at shorthand.

h/t Echidne

Image: Flickr, used via Creative Commons

Gary Don’t. Please, Just Don’t.

by matttbastard

I have no clue who I’m going to endorse for the NDP leadership — but I sure as shit know which potential candidate will never, ever receive a vote from yours truly: sellout 3rd way posterchild Gary Doer, who has apparently sold his soul to rock & roll Ethical Oil, that filthiest of filthy lucre.

The G&M:

Since becoming Canada’s ambassador to the United States in late 2009, the former Manitoba premier has travelled from the Carolinas to California, and to most points in between, to make the case for the oil sands.

[...]

Calgary-based TransCanada’s $7-billion Keystone XL pipeline fits into Mr. Doer’s economic pitch as a major infrastructure project that would create 20,000 unionized construction jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in tax and other revenues in the six states through which it would pass.

The pipeline would almost double the capacity of Alberta crude that TransCanada can ship south, to 1.1 million barrels a day, and provide a direct line to Gulf of Mexico refineries on the Texas coast.

The U.S. State Department must approve the project since the pipeline crosses an international boundary and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has promised a decision by year-end.

[...]

Mr. Doer, who was a highly-popular New Democratic premier and whose name has been raised as a future federal party leader, is hardly taking the pipeline’s approval for granted.

To everyone he meets these days, he insists the 2,700-kilometre Keystone XL would adhere to far tougher safety standards than any of the 235,000 kilometres of oil pipelines already built in the United States.

And he counters the reputation of oil sands crude as “dirty” owing to the greater amounts of freshwater depletion, greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation it causes compared with conventional oil production.

“We believe that when somebody claims something that’s 10 years old about water utilization or [carbon] emissions, we have to put the facts on the table,” he said, noting that it now takes far less water to produce a barrel of oil sands oil than it does to produce the same amount of ethanol.

“There have been major improvements made. We’re not saying to anyone that they’re complete. We’ve got to keep using innovations to improve water utilization and emissions per barrel.”

Yeah, no offense to those who get giddy imagining Doer at the NDP helm going into 2015, but come the fuck on. Handing the party over to the Harper Government’s hand-picked agent of environmental destruction would be the ultimate desecration of Layton’s pragmatic, progressive legacy. And that is attendant reality Dippers will also have to face.

Really.