A Dangerous Precedent
According to the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution, Americans are never to be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. The Constitution is not some aspirational statement of values, allowing exceptions when convenient, but rather, it is the law of the land. It is the basis of our Republic and our principal bulwark against tyranny.
Last week's assassination of two American citizens, Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, is an outrage and a criminal act carried out by the President and his administration. If the law protecting us against government-sanctioned assassination can be voided when there is a "really bad American," is there any meaning left to the rule of law in the United States?
If, as we learned last week, a secret government committee, not subject to congressional oversight or judicial review, can now target certain Americans for assassination, under what moral authority do we presume to lecture the rest of the world about protecting human rights? Didn't we just bomb Libya into oblivion under the auspices of protecting the civilians from being targeted by their government? Timothy McVeigh was certainly a threat, as were Nidal Hassan and Jared Lee Loughner. They killed people in front of many witnesses. They took up arms against their government in a literal way, yet were still afforded trials.
These constitutional protections are in place because our Founders realized it is a very serious matter to deprive any individual of life or liberty. Our outrage against even the obviously guilty is not worth the sacrifice of the rule of law. Al-Awlaki has been outspoken against the United States and we are told he encouraged violence against Americans. We do not know that he actually committed any acts of violence. Ironically, he was once invited to the Pentagon as part of an outreach to moderate Muslims after 9/11. As the US attacks against Muslims in the Middle East and Central Asia expanded, it is said that he became more fervent and radical in his opposition to US foreign policy.
Many cheer this killing because they believe that in a time of war, due process is not necessary - not even for citizens, and especially not for those overseas. However, there has been no formal declaration of war and certainly not one against Yemen. The post-9/11 authorization for force would not have covered these two Americans because no one is claiming they had any connection to that attack. Al-Awlaki was on a kill list compiled by a secret panel within President Obama's National Security Council and Justice Department. How many more Americans citizens are on that list? They won't tell us. What are the criteria? They won't tell us. Where is the evidence? They won't tell us.
Al-Awlaki's father tried desperately to get the administration to at least allow his son to have legal representation to challenge the "kill" order. He was denied. Rather than give him his day in court, the administration, behind closed doors, served as prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner.
The most worrisome aspect of this is that any new powers this administration accrues will serve as precedents for future administrations. Even those who completely trust this administration must understand that if this usurpation of power and denial of due process is allowed to stand, these powers will remain to be expanded upon by the next administration and then the next. Will you trust them?
History shows that once a population gives up its rights, they are not easily won back. Beware.
Posted by RF on 10/13/11 08:30 PM
the statement was from Swemson- below your first reply- not I- FDR packed the Supreme court, started Social Security, countless other measures, some good ,some bad ,I do not judge the past , nor waste time critizing it,
I'm sure Churchill was a ruddy old bastard when cornered- most old time polititions were... Where you did read "admiration"?? I think it senseless to read words that aren't there, or imply thoughts that aren't spoken...
You still have a very narrow band of thought when you read my feedback, you read things that aren't there and complicit me with the cause of the worlds problems God knows why??
Posted by RF on 10/13/11 09:55 AM
@ DB read more ?? of which disseminate information?? I read quite a bit- you response to my statement was churlish- it was not in fact my statement, but from a previous feedback "sparky" read back a bit- Terrorist has many defininations- You can call Churchill and Roosevelt demons , yet you did not live in thier times, your information is second hand to begin with.. Reading comprehension is at point here- re-read the sentence,it simply states they were leaders of thier times, as were Hitler, Stalin ,responsible for the deaths of millions combined, and no doubt made decisions they regretted, why your childish response, I don't know,tell me what should I be reading???
Reply from The Daily Bell
We never called Roosevelt and Churchill demons. But your initial statement implied an admiration we have do not think will be justified by history's longer view ...
Posted by RF on 10/12/11 10:01 PM
Christianity ,Judism and ,Islam all have roots in Abraham, Noah ,others.. They all grew out from the Middle East soil, they all believe in God as supreme... Winston Churchill was certainly not a terrorist, neither was Roosevelt, they were leaders of thier times, and no doubt both had secrets and responses they regretted with the course of the war..
Reply from The Daily Bell
"Winston Churchill was certainly not a terrorist, neither was Roosevelt, they were leaders of thier times, and no doubt both had secrets and responses they regretted with the course of the war."
Read more, RF.
Posted by Swemson on 10/12/11 09:29 PM
If my opinions are insulting to some in this discussion, who claim that Islam is no different than Christianity, and that Churchill was a terrorist, comparable to Hitler, Stalin or Pol Pot, then I know I must be doing something right.
Frankly I expected more of readers of The Daily Bell, and all people who support free markets and the basic human rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (i.e. property). Hopefully they're just members of the lunatic fringe of the Ron Paul supporters who happen to be here because Dr. Paul wrote the article. I doubt that they have sufficient intellect to understand most of what's published on this terrific website.
Posted by sparky on 10/12/11 09:27 PM
The issue is NOT the Yemeni's or how they do business. The Central issue if you go back and re-read the editorial is OUR obedience to the rule of law IN THIS COUNTRY, and in this country the rule of law is embodied in the U.S. Constitution. Because we have begun down the slippery slope that you appear to continue to express an affininity for continuing down we have new excuses for attacking yet another country that has not attacked us. However, even more tragically this "War on Terror" is also constantly used as the excuse to expand a Police State in this country. So tell me where does this insanity end and when do we get back to our public officials obeying the U.S. Constitution (Which is the rule of law IN THIS COUNTRY)!!
Posted by RF on 10/12/11 08:42 PM
Being the President entails wearing many hats... .How heavy was the hat Lincoln wore ?? Many presidents have had wars waged, O'bama is not responsible for the times we're in... I certainly agree about the killing it's citizens, it means we are on a road that cannot be turned back... . We have created many, many ,innocent casualties in the wars waged in Iraq, Afghanistan , there is a long list... The children of these countries will grown up hating America for thier lost families, thier missing limbs, thier lost family lives,they will not forget the world we introduced to them..,This is a done deal, the die is cast, ..The next President of the United States, will have much turmiol to resolve, The tribal cultures affected by our cynical "progress", thier children blown up in thier squares by thier own, will always blame the US for the sadness that will prevail over thier culture in years to come... .. Dr. Ron Paul seems weak in thier eyes when he defends our countries enemies, when they themselves would not hesitate to excecute them on the spot... The Yemenis did so using us to do the deed..I do not disagree with him ,there are no justifyed deaths,but many victims.many innocent ones that will never forgive us... . Is Dr Ron Paul willing to respond to deadly intrusions into our daily lives as they have?? .
Posted by sparky on 10/12/11 06:10 PM
The "Whole suit" that you are refering to is what? To endlessly attack countries that have NOT attacked us? Where does this end? How many violations of the rule of law (The U.S.Constitution) are ok with you?
I guess if Mr. Paul would be a Neo-Con law violator like all the others that would make you happy? How many more Soverign Nations do we have to attack to declare "Victory"? Since you are so gung ho to keep these endless perma wars going, and wars have real costs, how many more individuals need to be sacrificed and how much more American money (That we DON'T have) should be spent on this insanity before you're happy? Additionally, if bombs were being dropped on you do you think that might agitate you a bit? This last question needs to be carefully considered. Because every person that is killed has alot of relatives and others that are not going to be happy about this and MIGHT want revenge.
Posted by RF on 10/12/11 03:49 PM
my point is a my freedom of speech first amendment - my right not to agreee with Mr Paul--He wants to be President,he has to wear the whole suit not just the buttons he wants,his focus on this as an issue is costing him the election, or any chance he had- the entire country has to vote for him,not the narrow band of followers... ... BTW-the little dots at the end of a sentence notate the end of the sentence- the Capital letter that follows notates the beginning of another--
Posted by sparky on 10/12/11 11:57 AM
What more needs to be said. This country is broke, morally and financially, and maintaining more lawlessness is unacceptable. We MUST get back to obeying the Constitution (Which is the only legal existing social contract with our government)and we must do it now. We are in desperate need of a return to sanity in this country morally and economically.
Posted by DwightMann aka Simpleton on 10/12/11 11:51 AM
I support RP fully. . .
Honest , ethical, and constitutional, just like our Founding Fathers!
Posted by DwightMann aka Simpleton on 10/12/11 11:47 AM
Oooopps wrong article. . .
Posted by DwightMann aka Simpleton on 10/12/11 11:46 AM
I support anything that Williams does, as we have a lot in common, but I will not say what. . .
I do say this though. . .
"If it aint country, it aint Music!"
Posted by schrodingers_pussie on 10/12/11 10:36 AM
Viewing the forest instead of the trees, it is difficult to see how Islam is any worse than so-called Christianity or Catholicism as a threat to world peace.
Churchill was one of the worst terrorists of the 20th Century. His record of murdering innocents in both world wars is awful. The Lusitania and Dresden incidents are only two of many examples of this. Quoting him is not so different from quoting Hitler, Stalin or Pol Pot when the morality of mass murder is concerned, except Churchill was infinitely more adept at the usage of the English language and convincing the sheep to give up their lambs for his slaughters. Your use of his prose does not convince me that Islam is inherently evil. The article, "Lost in a Yemen Jail!" on this website suggests a very different picture from the one you seem to believe in.
Posted by rossbcan on 10/12/11 08:20 AM
... and, time for "Constitution of NO Authority":
Click to view link
Posted by rossbcan on 10/12/11 08:01 AM
"to be held hostage to a bunch of 7th century barbarians, who might as well be Neanderthals to the rest of us."
seems to me Islamists did not strike the first blow. We, in the west did with our crusades and corporations economically subverting their leaders to enslave, steal resources on our unilateral economic terms and keep their people under the thumb of servitude and ignorance.
We are attempting to impose democracy (mob rule) on them because elites know that populations and thus democratic outcome are totally predictable if you construct a false intellectual environment where all, including better alternatives are forcefully suppressed, making mob rule and subservience to consensus of manipulated fools appear to be a "no other choice" fact of life.
Agree that "rule of law", property rights and respect for any and all individual freedom to choose to do anything apart from causing ham to others is a far superior way of life and social / economic organization for civilization. And, IF it is superior, would it not be freely chosen by all whom are stuck in the web of tyranny, under any alternative social / economic system ANYWHERE and ANYTIME?
But yet, arbitrary power CHOOSES to impose, by running amok, planetwide, their "system". This can only mean some combination of two things:
a - Arbitrary power believes their victims are subhuman, incapable of rational thought, not fit to run their own lives and choose what is best for them. In other words, enslave those with utility, exterminate the useless. We have seen this before.
b - Arbitrary power knows that the "rule of law", social contract, etc, are just pretexts, false promises to manipulate their agents into the position of wielding the apparatus of coercion from which they can, without exception, using subverted law, rationalize never ending streams of BS "$hit happens" such that they can prey with impunity with the "blessing" of dupes such as yourself whom, by your post have fully fallen for "believing the unbelievable" and are thus, for fraudulent reasons providing philosophical and material support by "tolerance of the governed" and, trading with the enemy.
If the west has anything to offer humanity in terms of a superior way of life, the rest of "monkey see, monkey do" humanity will out of pure self-interest and basic survival reasons choose to adopt our allegedly saner system of social / economic organization.
And yet, they defensively fight us and there is substantial, approaching total revolutionary fervor in the west. Is everyone idiots, unable to evaluate and peacefully choose a superior system OR, are matters not quite what they are claimed to be?
Posted by Joelg on 10/12/11 04:41 AM
Thank you for standing up as a man of conscience, Mr. Ron Paul. That to me is true leadership. You are clearly not a focus-group echo chamber saying what is popular for applause lines. It brings tears to my eyes, because you seem like the lone wolf when it comes to having a conscience in the American government. It reminds me a bit of Robert Byrd's lone vigil with the Constitution in his coat pocket as he rebuked the President and Senate over Iraq Invasion II.
The obvious extension of targeted killings of Americans abroad is targeted killing of Americans on American soil, with the accompanying collateral damage (i.e. innocent civilians). Would that not also be equality (equal lack of justice), since Americans at home would be treated equal to Afghanis and Pakistanis targeted by unmanned drones? Perhaps future targeted killings of Americans will just be denied and met with silence, Argentina military style. If nothing else, we are developing a hardened cadre of decision-making people in Washington D.C. who will be ready to transition to making the difficult death calls under Obamacare.
Posted by NAPpy on 10/12/11 03:45 AM
"Had we stuck to The Constitution as we should have, we wouldn't have this problem, and all the other problems that we're experiencing now."
Agreed. People before I was born did not stick to the constitution. People since I was born do not stick to the constitution. If we were to magically reset to the 1780's, what makes you think the constitution would be followed? The constitution is based on the premise that one group of people may rule over me. I don't accept that premise. History has shown that people can barely rule themselves, let alone others. Why not evolve into self-rule?
"Just as we need to continue to honor our Medicare and Social Security commitments to Americans who have paid into the system their entire lives, so must we continue to honor our commitment to Israel. And we're not doing so out of altruism."
Not going to happen. The system is bankrupt now. Taxes are as high as they have ever been, so there's no room to raise money that way. We have an entire class of people dependent on the government dole, who can vote, so benefits won't be cut. If your system is bankrupt, can't raise money, and can't cut costs, then the inevitable conclusion is that the system will collapse. Oh, the collapse may be delayed through hyperinflation, but that also leads to collapse. If you're one of the unfortunate fools who believed government promises, then you have a future of going back to work, moving in with your kids, or relying on charity to look forward to.
"But we can't just walk away."
Why not? I was in the military, and studied military history. There is no nation on this earth that could succesfully conduct a cross-ocean invasion against the most powerfule military on the planet, and against the most heavily armed citizenry. That leaves us worrying about Canada and Mexico. OK, that's nothing to worry about. That leaves us your worry about being invaded by an ideology. What? Are you seriously contending that if we withdrew from the middle east, a bunch of average susie muslim homemakers and joe muslim lunch boxes would swim across the ocean, past our navy, and invade? Not buying it. If you, however, are buying it, I refer you to the course of action conducted by Americans prior to WWI and WWII. Individual americans joined foreign armies and air forces to fight for what they believed in. Go do that. Don't encourage your neighbors kids to die for what you believe in, die first yourself, and let that be an example of the courage of your convictions. Anything else is moral cowardice.
"... so must we continue to honor our commitment to Israel."
Nice assertion. What's the argument? If after 50+ years of subsidies and hand-holding, Israel can't stand on its own, then good-riddance. Personally, I think that their nuclear weapons combined with some good old humble-pie diplomacy will allow Israel to survive. Not my problem, though. See above about joining Israel's military if you don't agree. Just leave your neighbor's kid alone.
"... he will go down in history along with Washington, Jefferson & Lincoln... "
Lincoln was responsible for the deaths of 600,000 Americans. He personally saw to it that the same right to revolution that our ancestors fought for in the 1700's, was denied to our ancestors in the 1860's. I'd advise you to think of a better role model.
"We have a moral responsibility to end people like Anwar al-Awlaki, in order to fulfill our obligation to future generations of Americans. It's not murder, it's self-defense."
According to UPB by Stefan Molyneux, a moral theory must meet the following criteria to be considered valid: it must be universal, objective, internally and externally consistent (logical and empirically testable), and binding. Please explain to me how murdering Anwar al-Awlaki fits into a valid moral argument. If you can't, then your statement is a preference, not a universalizable moral theory, and I'll just ignore you.
Posted by Swemson on 10/12/11 02:04 AM
I agree. All I'm saying is that we can't change things all the way back to where they should be overnight. There's some crappola that we're in the middle of that has to be resolved first.
Posted by sparky on 10/12/11 12:57 AM
Your basic premise in this most recent post is we have been violating the rule of law for a long time. Thus to cater to those who don't respect the rule of law or see a need to do so we must keep violating it. With all due respect have we not been doing that for a long time? Where has it gotten us? In short, I disagree with your premise the time to move back to obedience to the Constitution is NOW!!
Posted by Swemson on 10/12/11 12:29 AM
@ Sparky, NAPpy, ALSledge & Nathan Kussman:
Had we stuck to The Constitution as we should have, we wouldn't have this problem, and all the other problems that we're experiencing now. In such a world, Dr. Paul's principles are 100% correct, however we can't just suddenly walk away from Israel and the middle east any more than we can end every form of welfare that exists in one day, without having the "have-nots" go bonkers and burn down all the major cities. They're not rational in case you haven't noticed.
Just as we need to continue to honor our Medicare and Social Security commitments to Americans who have paid into the system their entire lives, so must we continue to honor our commitment to Israel. And we're not doing so out of altruism.
There are two malignancies that threaten everyone's peace, freedom and economic security. The worst one is the collectivists, whether they be communists, progressives, socialists etc.. None of those systems are moral, and on top of that, they've never worked and never will.
The other one, and sometimes I wonder if it should be the #1 or #2 threat that we face is Islam. Notice I didn't say "radical Islam" this time. There's no non-violent way to put an end to the threat of Islam, which has been terrorizing all non-Muslims for over 1,200 years, because the Quran preaches violence to its followers. We've known about this for generations, as evidenced by Churchill's words:
"How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property - either as a child, a wife, or a concubine - must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen: all know how to die but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome."
Viewed in the abstract, it makes no sense for our modern world, which is daily unlocking the secrets of the universe, cracking the DNA code, and literally traveling to other worlds, to be held hostage to a bunch of 7th century barbarians, who might as well be Neanderthals to the rest of us.
Not a pretty picture to be sure, but this is the world we unfortunately live in at the moment, and we simply can't change everything overnight. When Dr. Paul lays out a coherent plan for the gradual disengagement from our foreign alliances, in conjunction with putting an end to the threat of Islam, the rest of the rational Americans who understand the issues, will flock to Dr Paul's support. But we can't just walk away. We need to put an end to this threat once and for all, NOT just for the Israelis, but for the entire non-Muslim world. NOT as the world's policemen, but as the strongest of all our peaceful friends around the world.
We have all this power, and have wasted an enormous amount blood and treasure tilting at windmills. Our government has reneged on it's commitment to the American military. I was a Marine in the late 60's, and I'm well aware of what happened. When we swore that oath, and put on the uniform, we knew that there was a chance that we'd lose our lives. But we also KNEW that our government wouldn't WASTE our lives. But that commitment ended in Vietnam when American servicemen & women started to get sacrificed for political purposes. Thousands of our soldiers, sailors and marines have made enormous sacrifices in the middle east over the last decade or so, and thousands of our civilians have died as well when we were attacked by these sub-human animals. We need to finish the job for the sake of all future generations. If Dr. Paul can clean out the swamp on the Potomac, and end the threat of Islam, he will go down in history along with Washington, Jefferson & Lincoln, as the greatest force for good and for liberty that the modern world has seen.
If he were to be elected however, and simply walked away from the fight in the middle east, he'd be condemning future generations to suffer the threat of Islam in perpetuity.
We have a moral responsibility to end people like Anwar al-Awlaki, in order to fulfill our obligation to future generations of Americans. It's not murder, it's self-defense.