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The Law Has Become Whatever They Say It Is

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President Barack Obama

This mornings headline in the local newspaper read, "U.S. mulls strike on American, officials weigh new kill-list rules, citizenship of suspect in Pakistan. [1]

Apparently the Obama administration over the past few months has been mulling the idea of the military or the CIA taking out and killing an American citizen, (not exactly a new phenomenon) hiding in Pakistan "who allegedly has helped al Qaeda militants plan attacks against U.S. troops in neighboring Afghanistan and is plotting future strikes", this according to unnamed officials.

Reportedly the Justice Department is "reviewing the evidence" against the suspect whose identity wasn't disclosed.

In guidelines approved by President Obama last May, a potential threat must pose "a continuing imminent threat to U.S. persons" and if so determined the president can authorize the military or the CIA to capture or kill the suspect in a drone strike or missile attack. The suspect now in the cross hairs is supposedly well guarded and in a remote location.

But let's cut to the chase and get to the heart of this not so new "story" of an administration manhunt.

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Ever since it became known President Obama compiled a "kill list" which he alone decides who is to be targeted for assassination, including as we know American citizens as was done with the targeted killing of American Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen in 2011, which drew controversy mainly from the radical left, there is essentially nothing new here, no change in administration policy regarding the targeted assassination of a suspect. As for capturing a suspect, bringing him back to the U.S. to face charges and with due process; forget it, it's easier to kill him.

For all the hocus-pocus secret intrigue surrounding this man hunt, it still comes down to the administration conveying these words; Trust us.

As for the people, we don't know anything about the alleged suspect, don't know his identity, what he's being accused of or what evidence has been compiled against him. As for due process of the man: that's solely done in an internal review conducted in secret by the Justice Department.

In fact everything is done in secrecy but it's presented to the public as a wrenching, agonizing process somehow meant to convey an air of "legitimacy".

The truth seems to be the executive branch unilaterally determines what it does is legal and if there are questions of what it does, that's simply taken care of by Justice Department memos and kept secret for reasons of national security.

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As for that sticky little anachronistic document known as the Constitution it's just circumvented as some inconvenient impediment to work around.

And besides which branch of the government is going to hold the executive to account, the Congress, the courts? The former is gutless, too intimidated to take action. Though they took an oath to defend the Constitution, they'll do little to really challenge the Executive's abuse of power, particularly on any issue relating to national security.

As for the courts, if there is any precedent to go by, when the family of assassinated Anwar al-Awlaki tried to sue the government over his targeted killing in Yemen in Yemen in 2011, the court said they didn't have standing and it was dropped.

As for the targeted killing of Awlaki's son two weeks later in another drone strike, his killing has seemingly gone off the radar, even though he was aged 16 at the time, an American citizen and had done nothing wrong; apparently just a case of guilt by association i.e. he's Awlaki's son, just terminate him as well.

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