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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Godfather and the Presidency

At the Philadelphia Inquirer, Dick Polman quotes The Godfather to make a constitutional argument:
Michael Corleone tells Kay that his dad, Vito, is really no different than "a senator or a president." Kay tells Michael that he's being naive, because "senators and presidents don't have men killed."
To which Michael says, "Oh. Who's being naive, Kay?"
You tell her, Michael! Because, as the U.S. attorney general made clear the other day - in a speech that got little play in the media, thanks to the Republican primaries - Obama is the first president to claim the legal authority to whack U.S. citizens, to act as judge, jury, and executioner without a shred of transparency or public accountability. 
This issue flared briefly last fall after Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born, American-educated radical Muslim cleric, was lit up in Yemen by one of Obama's drones. ... 
Indeed, 18 months before Awlaki's death, it was reported (via government leaks) that Awlaki's name had been placed on a hit list of American citizens, but today we still don't know who is on the list, why they were placed on the list, what kind of evidence puts you on the list, or which government officials maintain the list. What's clear, however, is that an American citizen can be placed on the hit list without knowing it, and with no opportunity to face or refute one's accusers.
All that would appear to be in violation of the Fifth Amendment (No person shall be "deprived of life ... without due process of law"), as well as Obama's constant boast that he is running "the most transparent administration in history." And when Attorney General Eric Holder said in his speech that Obama can make these life-or-death decisions without any judicial oversight, he contradicted Sen. Obama, who had insisted on the Senate floor that even presidents fighting a war on terror needed to be checked and balanced by judicial oversight