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LUV News Sat 23 Feb 2013]

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  • scotpeden
    From the first article; In the era of executive authority—almost entirely enabled by the annually renewed Authorization for Use of Military Force enacted
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 23, 2013
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      From the first article;

      "In the era of executive authority—almost entirely enabled by the annually
      renewed Authorization for Use of Military Force enacted after the events
      of 9/11—the question remains, at what point will Congress reassert its
      right to control declarations of war and at what point will the US public
      begin to question a "war on terror" that can deploy US soldiers in a
      foreign nation with the quick delivery of a simple presidential note?"

      From the second article;
      Burnat (5 broken cameras academy award nominee) finished his statement on
      his detention at Los Angeles International Airport: “Although this was an
      unpleasant experience, this is a daily occurrence for Palestinians, every
      single day, throughout the West Bank. There are more than 500 Israeli
      checkpoints, roadblocks, and other barriers to movement across our land,
      and not a single one of us has been spared the experience that my family
      and I experienced yesterday. Ours was a very minor example of what my
      people face every day.”

      From the third article's intro;
      Bradley Manning has now spent 1,000 days in jail without a trial. That's
      almost 3 years.

      Ahh, to live in the land of the free, ain't it grand to be the king?

      Web mail will put the graphics as attachment, if you look today you will
      find the graphic edition here;

      *Well, why not? He does just about everything else he wants by fiat. Why
      not send troops into Niger by
      The U.S. just isn't happy unless it's at war.*


      *The Empire wants you to know who's boss. And in case you forget, it will
      be standing by to remind
      Forcefully. Think about that as you're watching the Academy Awards on
      Sunday night.*



      [image: The strange and consequential case of Bradley Manning, Adrian Lamo

      *Bradley Manning has now spent 1,000 days in jail without a trial. That's
      almost 3 years. During part of that time, he was tortured. Now he's simply
      languishing, waiting for the U.S. government to get its act together. But
      don't expect the American mainstream media to bother to mark this day. As
      usual, we have to go to foreign media, such as The
      for reflection.*
      *Tell me again -- why do you read the New York Times and the Washington
      Post to the exclusion of other sources?*
      *There are protests for Manning going on all over the world this weekend.
      You can participate. The Bradley Manning Support Network tells you

      *There's been much written about John Brennan's dodging of
      his Senate confirmation hearing to be the next head of the CIA. So
      he's now facing serious opposition. But as usual, die-hard tribalists are
      pretending that opposition is all about political party affiliation. No
      doubt some of it is. But people who care about civil liberties and the rule
      of law oppose Brennan on these grounds, not on phony left-right grounds.
      -Lisa Simeone*

      [image: 127578 600 Obama with drones cartoons]

      Obama officials refuse to say if assassination power extends to US
      The administration's extreme secrecy is beginning to lead Senators to
      impede John Brennan's nomination to lead the CIA
      by Glenn Greenwald

      The Justice Department "white paper" purporting to
      power to extrajudicially execute US citizens was leaked three weeks ago.
      Since then, the administration - including the president himself and his
      nominee to lead the CIA, John
      Brennan<http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/john-brennan> -
      has been repeatedly asked whether this authority extends to US soil, i.e.,
      whether the president has the right to execute US citizens on US soil
      without charges. *In each instance, they have refused to answer.*

      Brennan has been asked the question several times as part of his
      confirmation process. Each time, he simply pretends that the question has
      not been asked, opting instead to address a completely different issue.
      Here's the latest example from thewritten exchange he had with
      Senators<http://intelligence.senate.gov/130207/posthearing.pdf> after
      his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee; after referencing
      the DOJ "white paper", the Committee raised the question with Brennan in
      the most straightforward way possible:
      [image: brennan q-and-a]

      Obviously, that the US has not and does not intend to engage in such acts
      is entirely non-responsive to the question that was asked: whether they
      believe they have the authority to do so. To the extent any answer was
      provided, it came in Brennan's next answer. He was asked:

      Could you describe the geographical limits on the Administration's conduct
      drone strikes?"

      Brennan's answer was that, in essence, there are *no geographic limits* to
      this power: "we do not view our authority to use military force against
      al-Qa'ida and associated forces as being limited to 'hot' battlefields like
      Afghanistan." He then quoted Attorney General Eric Holder as saying:
      "neither Congress nor our federal courts has limited the geographic scope
      of our ability to use force to the current conflict in Afghanistan" (see
      Brennan's full answer

      Revealingly, this same question was posed to Obama not by a journalist or a
      progressive but by a conservative
      who asked if drone strikes could be used on US soil and "what will you do
      to create a legal framework to make American citizens within the United
      States believe know that drone strikes cannot be used against American
      citizens?" *Obama replied that there "has never been a drone used on an
      American citizen on American soil" - which, obviously, doesn't remotely
      answer the question of whether he believes he has the legal power to
      do so.*He added that "the rules outside of the United States are going
      to be
      different than* [sic]* the rules inside the United States", but these
      "rules" are simply political choices the administration has made which can
      be changed at any time, not legal constraints. *The question - do you as
      president believe you have the legal authority to execute US citizens on US
      soil on the grounds of suspicions of Terrorism if you choose to do so? -
      was one that Obama, like Brennan, simply did not answer.*

      *As always, it's really worth pausing to remind ourselves of how truly
      radical and just plainly unbelievable this all is.* What's more
      extraordinary: that the US Senate is repeatedly asking the Obama White
      House whether the president has the power to secretly order US citizens on
      US soil executed without charges or due process, or whether the president
      and his administration refuse to answer? That *this* is the "controversy"
      surrounding the confirmation of the CIA director - and it's a very muted
      controversy at that - *shows just how extreme the degradation of US
      political culture is.*

      As a result of all of this, GOP Senator Rand Paul on Thursday sent a
      letter<http://paul.senate.gov/?p=press_release&id=713> to
      Brennan vowing to filibuster his confirmation unless and until the White
      House answers this question. Noting the numerous
      times<http://paul.senate.gov/files/documents/Brennan2.pdf> this
      question was previously
      posed<http://paul.senate.gov/files/documents/Brennan1.pdf> to
      Brennan and Obama without getting an answer, Paul again wrote:

      *Do you believe that the President has the power to authorize lethal
      force, such as a drone strike, against a US citizen on US soil, and without

      After adding that "I believe the only acceptable answer to this is no",
      Paul wrote: "Until you directly and clearly answer, I plan to use every
      procedural option at my disposal to delay your confirmation and bring added
      scrutiny to this issue."

      Yesterday, in response to my asking specifically about Paul's letter,
      Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado said that while he is not yet ready
      to threaten a filibuster, he "shares those concerns". He added: "Congress
      needs a better understanding of how the Executive Branch interprets the
      limits of its authorities."

      *Indeed it does. In fact, it is repellent to think that any member of the
      Senate Intelligence Committee - which claims to conduct oversight over the
      intelligence community - would vote to confirm Obama's CIA director while
      both the president and the nominee simply ignore their most basic question
      about what the president believes his own powers to be when it comes to
      targeting US citizens for assassination on US soil.*


      Udall also pointed to this New York Times article from
      the growing anger on the part of several Democratic senators, including
      him, over the lack of transparency regarding the multiple legal opinions
      that purport to authorize the president's assassination power. *Not only
      does the Obama administration refuse to make these legal memoranda public -
      senators have been
      more than full year to see them - but they only two weeks ago permitted
      members to look at two of those memos, but "were available to be viewed
      only for a limited time and only by senators themselves, not their lawyers
      and experts." *Said Udall in response to my questions yesterday:* "Congress
      needs to fulfill its oversight function. This can't happen when members
      only have a short time to review complicated legal documents — as I did two
      weeks ago — and without any expert staff assistance or access to delve more
      deeply into the details."*


      Critically, the documents that are being concealed by the Obama
      administration are not operational plans or sensitive secrets. They are *
      legal *documents that, like the leaked white paper, simply purport to set
      forth the president's legal powers of execution and assassination. *As
      Democratic lawyers relentlessly pointed out when the Bush administration
      also concealed legal memos authorizing presidential powers, keeping such
      documents secret is literally tantamount to maintaining "secret law". These
      are legal principles governing what the president can and cannot do -
      purported law - and US citizens are being barred from knowing what those
      legal claims are.*

      *There is zero excuse for concealing these documents from the public* (if
      there is any specific operational information, it can simply be redacted),
      and enormous harm that comes from doing so. As Dawn Johnsen, Obama's first
      choice to lead the OLC, put it
      <http://www.salon.com/2009/04/16/olc_memos/> during
      the Bush years: use of "'secret law' threatens the effective functioning of
      American democracy" and "the withholding from Congress and the public of
      legal interpretations by the [OLC] upsets the system of checks and balances
      between the executive and legislative branches of government." *No matter
      your views on drones <http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/drones> and War on
      Terror assassinations, what possible justification is there for concealing
      the legal rationale that authorizes these policies and defines the limits
      on the president's powers, if any?*

      *You know who once claimed to understand the grave dangers from maintaining
      secret law? Barack Obama <http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/barack-obama>. On
      16 April 2009*, it was reported that Obama would announce whether he would
      declassify and release the Bush-era OLC memos that authorized torture. On
      that date, I wrote <http://www.salon.com/2009/04/16/olc_memos/>: "today is
      the most significant test yet determining the sincerity of Barack Obama's
      commitment to restore the Constitution, transparency and the rule of law."
      When it was announced that Obama would release those memos over the
      vehement objections of the CIA, I lavished him with
      praise<https://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/04/17-7> for
      that, writing that "the significance of Obama's decision to release those
      memos - and the political courage it took - shouldn't be minimized". The
      same lofty reasoning Obama invoked to release those Bush torture memos
      applies to his own assassination
      *yet his vaunted belief in transparency when it comes to "secret law"
      obviously applies only to George Bush and not himself.*

      *The reason this matters so much has nothing to do with whether you think
      Obama is preparing to start assassinating US citizens on US soil. That's
      completely irrelevant to the question here. The reason this matters so much
      is because whatever presidential powers Obama establishes for himself
      become a permanent part of how the US government functions, and endures not
      only for the rest of his presidency but for subsequent ones as well.*

      What is vital to realize is that the DOJ "white
      does not answer the question of whether the assassination power it
      justified extends to US soil. That memo addressed the question of whether
      the president has the legal authority to target US citizens for
      assassination where "capture is infeasible" and concluded that he does, but
      that *does not mean* that it would be illegal to do so where capture is
      feasible. Contrary to the claims of some commentators, such as Steve
      it is impossible to argue reasonably that the memo imposed a requirement of
      "infeasibility of capture" on Obama's assassination power.

      This could not be clearer: the DOJ memo expressly said that it was only
      addressing the issue of whether assassinations would be legal under the
      circumstances it was asked about, but that it was *not opining* on whether
      it would be legal in the absence of those circumstances. Just read its
      clear language in this regard: *"This paper does not attempt to determine
      the minimum requirements necessary to render such an operation lawful."
      Again: the memo is not imposing "minimum requirements" on the president's
      assassination powers*, such as the requirement that capture be infeasible.
      For those who did not process the first time, the memo - in its very last
      paragraph - emphasizes this again:
      [image: doj white paper]

      That's as conclusive as it gets: *the DOJ white paper does not - does not -
      answer the question of whether the president's assassination power extends
      to US soil.* It does not impose the requirement that capture first be
      infeasible before the president can target someone for execution. It
      expressly says it is imposing no such requirements. To the contrary, it
      leaves open the question of whether the president has this power where
      capture is feasible - including on US soil. That's precisely why these
      senators are demanding an answer to this question: because it's not
      answered in this memo. And that's precisely why the White House refuses to
      answer: because it does not want to foreclose powers that it believes it
      possesses, even if it has no current "intent" to exercise those powers.

      *The crux of this issue goes to the heart of almost every civil liberties
      assault under the War on Terror since it began. Once you accept that the US
      is fighting a "war" against The Terrorists, and that the "battlefield" in
      this "war" has no geographical limitations, then you are necessarily
      vesting the president with unlimited powers. You're making him the
      functional equivalent of a monarch. That's because it is almost impossible
      to impose meaningful limitations on a president's war powers on a


      If you posit that the entire world is a "battlefield", then you're
      authorizing him to do *anywhere in the world* what he can do on a
      battlefield: kill, imprison, eavesdrop, detain - all without limits or
      oversight or accountability. *That's why "the-world-is-a-battlefield"
      theory was so radical and alarming (not to mention controversial) when
      David Addington, John Yoo, and friends propagated it, and it's no less
      menacing now that it's become Democratic Party dogma as well.*

      Once you accept the premises of that DOJ white paper, there is no cogent
      limiting legal principle that would confine Obama's assassination powers to
      foreign soil.* If "the whole world is a battlefield", then that necessarily
      includes US soil.* The idea that assassinations will be used only where
      capture is "infeasible" is a political choice, not a legal principle. If
      the president has the power to kill anyone he claims is an "enemy
      combatant" in this "war", including a US citizen, then there is no way to
      limit this power to situations where capture is infeasible.

      *This was always the question I repeatedly asked of Bush
      embraced this same War on Terror theory to justify all of his claimed
      powers:* how can any cognizable limits be placed on that power, including
      as applied to US citizens on US soil (and indeed, the Bush administration
      did apply that theory to those circumstances, as when it arrested US
      citizen Jose Padilla in Chicago and then imprisoned him for several years
      in a military brig in South Carolina: all without charges). They did so on
      the same ground used by Obama now: the whole world is a battlefield, so the
      president's power to detain people as "enemy combatants" is not
      geographically confined nor limited to foreign nationals.

      Out of the good grace of his heart, or due to political expedience, Obama
      may decide to exercise this power only where he claims capture is
      infeasible, but there is no coherent legal reason that this power would be
      confined that way. The "global war" paradigm that has been normalized under
      two successive administrations all but compels that, as a legal matter,
      this power extend everywhere and to everyone. The only possible limitations
      are international law and the "due process" clause of the Constitution -
      and, in my view, that clearly bars presidential executions of US citizens
      no matter where they are as well as foreign nationals on US soil.

      But otherwise, once you accept the "global-battlefield" framework, then the
      scope of this presidential assassination power is limitless (this is to say
      nothing of how vague the standards in the DOJ "white paper" are when it
      comes to things like "imminence" and "feasibility of capture", as the New
      Yorker's Amy Davidson pointed out this
      *suggesting that the DOJ white paper may authorize a president to kill US
      journalists who are preparing to write about leaks of national security

      *That this is even an issue - that this question even has to be asked and
      the president can so easily get away with refusing to answer - is a potent
      indicator of how quickly and easily even the most tyrannical powers become
      normalized. About all of this, Esquire's Charles Pierce yesterday put it

      "This is why the argument many liberals are making - that the drone
      program is acceptable both morally and as a matter of practical politics
      because of the faith you have in the guy who happens to be presiding over
      it at the moment -- is *criminally naive, intellectually empty, and as
      false as blue money to the future. The powers we have allowed to leach away
      from their constitutional points of origin into that office have created in
      the presidency a foul strain of outlawry that (worse) is now seen as the
      proper order of things.*

      *"If that is the case, and I believe it is, then the very nature of the
      presidency of the United States at its core has become the vehicle for
      permanently unlawful behavior. Every four years, we elect a new criminal
      because that's become the precise job description."*

      That language may sound extreme. But it's actually mild when set next to
      the powers that the current president not only claims but has used. The
      fact that he does it all in secret - insists that even the "law" that
      authorizes him to do it cannot be seen by the public - is precisely why
      Pierce is so right when he says that "the very nature of the presidency of
      the United States at its core has become the vehicle for permanently
      unlawful behavior". *To allow a political leader to claim those kinds of of
      powers, and to exercise them in secret, guarantee chronic criminality.*
      Targeting US citizens v. foreign nationals

      Whenever this issue is raised, people quite reasonably ask why there should
      be any difference in the reaction to targeting US citizens as opposed to
      foreign nationals. *As a moral and ethical matter, and as a matter of
      international law, there is no difference whatsoever. I am every bit as
      opposed to targeting foreign nationals for due-process-free assassinations
      as I am US citizens, which is why I have devoted so much time and energy to
      opposing that policy. *I also agree entirely with what *Desmond Tutu recently
      said <https://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/02/14-3>* in response to
      calls for a special secret "court" to be created to review the targeting of
      US citizens for assassinations:

      *"Do the United States and its people really want to tell those of us who
      live in the rest of the world that our lives are not of the same value as
      yours?* *That President Obama can sign off on a decision to kill us with
      less worry about judicial scrutiny than if the target is an American? Would
      your Supreme Court really want to tell humankind that we, like the slave
      Dred Scott in the 19th century, are not as human as you are? I cannot
      believe it.*

      *"I used to say of apartheid that it dehumanized its perpetrators as much
      as, if not more than, its victims. Your response as a society to Osama bin
      Laden and his followers threatens to undermine your moral standards and
      your humanity."*

      But the explanation for why the targeting of US citizens receives distinct
      attention is two-fold: both political and legal. Politically, it is simply
      easier to induce one's fellow citizens to care about an abusive power if
      you can persuade them that it will affect them and not merely those Foreign
      Others. *It shouldn't be that way, but the reality of human nature is that
      it is *(recall how civil liberties and privacy concerns catapulted to the
      top of the news when US citizens generally - not just Muslims - were
      subjected to new invasive airport searches). So emphasizing that the
      assassination power extends to US citizens as well as foreign nationals can
      be an important instrument in battling indifference.

      But there's also a legal difference. As the Supreme Court has interpreted
      it, the US Constitution applies, roughly speaking, to two
      (1) US citizens no matter where they are in the world, and (2) foreign
      nationals on US soil or US-controlled land (that's why foreign Guantanamo
      detainees had to
      argue<http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/03-334.ZO.html> that
      the US had sovereignty over Guantanamo Bay in order to invoke the US
      Constitution's habeas corpus guarantee against the US government). While
      international law certainly constrains what the US government may do to
      foreign nationals outside of land over which the US exercises sovereignty,
      the US Constitution, at least as the Supreme Court has interpreted it, does
      not. *Moreover - not just for the US but for every nation - there is a
      unique danger that comes from a government acting repressively against its
      own citizens: that's what shields those in power from challenge and renders
      the citizenry pacified and afraid.*

      The US policy of killing or imprisoning anyone it wants, anywhere in the
      world, is immoral and wrong in equal measure when applied to US citizens
      and foreign nationals, on US soil or in Yemen and Pakistan. But application
      of the power to US citizens on US soil does raise distinct constitutional
      problems, creates the opportunity to mobilize the citizenry against it, and
      poses specific political dangers. That's why it is sometimes discussed

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