In one of the best-kept secrets of the U.S. corporate media, the Obama administration yesterday went before a federal court and threw its full support behind yet another of the Bush administration's assertions of fascist powers. This time, the issue revolves around the question of whether the executive branch of the U.S. government has the unlimited, unchecked, unreviewed power to unilaterally designate, as a danger to the U.S., a U.S. citizen--a civilian in a non-combat situation--then murder him. This administration, like the last, says "yes," and also asserted, in a manner all too familiar to those of us who had followed Bush's efforts to drag the U.S. down the long, ugly road to fascism, that it was an executive matter the judiciary hadn't even the authority to review.
All of this was in response to a lawsuit filed by the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights, who are looking to limit the government's power to carry out these sorts of Mafia-style extrajudicial murders to cases of imminent danger to life and safety and have requested that the court force the executive branch to publicly disclose the secret process that results in a U.S. citizen being placed on a government hit-list.
The ACLU and CCR are acting at the request of Nasser Al-Aulaqi, the father of Anwar Al-Aulaqi. Anwar is a reactionary Muslim cleric reportedly placed on a government hit-list. Because he has been so targeted, the Treasury Department asserted that the ACLU and CCR, before they could even bring the suit, had to request a special license to allow them to do so. They requested the license, the government failed to provide it, and they proceeded to file a separate suit against the licensing scheme. Seems like a no-brainer. It's bad enough the government would assert the unrestrained power to kill U.S. citizens, but we're well into Kafka territory when someone so targeted has to obtain a license from that same government to allow him to challenge its decision to destroy him.
Linked to terrorists and, in his own right, reportedly an anti-Western Islamist reactionary of the worst sort, Aulaqi is hardly the poster-boy for an ideal plaintiff, but he is an American citizen, and his inflammatory views are of no real consequence to the issue at hand. Aulaqi has never been convicted or even charged with any crime by the U.S.. Jameel Jaffer, who presented arguments for the ACLU yesterday, put the matter succinctly:
"If the Constitution means anything, it surely means that the president does not have unreviewable authority to summarily execute any American whom he concludes is an enemy of the state."
The "liberal" Obama administration disagrees. Hopefully, the matter can be decided before it gets to the current Supreme Court.