“If the President Does It, It is Legal”
June 10, 2012
“Last week, the Times published an expose detailing how President Obama personally orders the execution of American citizens and foreigners that he labels “terrorists.” According to the Times, this program deems “all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants”; allows the president to be judge, jury and executioner; and operates wholly outside of the law. Indeed, the Times reports that the administration justifies such dictatorial power by insisting that the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of due process can now “be satisfied by internal deliberations in the executive branch.”
“However, the memo laying out this utterly preposterous legal theory is secret—and, of course, hasn’t been ratified by any court.
“In terms of size, scope and long-term effects, this program makes the Watergate scandal look altogether quaint. You would therefore think that at minimum, even the most flaccid, rubber-stamp Congress might ask a few questions about the president’s “kill list” and the dangerous precedents it sets.
“But evidently, you would be wrong.
“As the Times noted in that subsequent follow-up story, Congress is focused not on shutting down—or even overseeing—the assassination program. It is instead focused on making sure those who blew the whistle on it are punished. Why? Because that will ensure that other such unauthorized programs can continue.”
These passages come from In These Times and are relevant to my last post on how the Republicans and Democrats collude – without literally doing so – to control our debate. Here is another aspect of the actions and agenda of the ruling class: Ensuring that those who rule are beyond the reach of the law or what are called “checks and balances.” The impeachment process and power has been rendered impotent over the past four plus decades, beginning with the aborted impeachment and trial of Richard Nixon and continuing through the Reagan and Clinton administrations. Some, like Bruce Fein and John Nichols – one a conservative and the other a liberal – try to hold the line on impeachments and their necessary and beneficial affects on our political system and especially on the presidency, but by and large such arguments are scorned by the ruling class who have convinced almost everyone that impeachments constitute “constitutional crises” rather than constitutional necessities and even solutions. And here we have another part of the ruling class’ attempt to undermine accountability in government: Taking down, rendering suspect and illegitimate, “whistle blowers.” And this too has been part of the ruling class’ agenda at least since the Nixon administration and its treatment Ernest Fitzgerald, a cost accountant for the Air Force who was fired for, well, for “cost accounting.” What gave the game away is that Fitzgerald was fired by the LBJ administration but it was the Nixon administration that pilloried him! And people say there is no “establishment.”