By Dave Lindorff
If the Constitution is to have any relevance, and if America is to remain a free society, then there is really no alternative: there must be a bill of impeachment drawn up and submitted in the House, and there must at least be a hearing on that bill in the House Judiciary Committee.
The disclosure, by NBC, of a so-called "white paper" by the White House offering the legal justification for the executing of American citizens solely on the authority of the executive branch and the president exposes a White House so blatantly in violation of the Constitution that it simply demands such a hearing.
As Juan Cole explains clearly in an essay in Informed Comment , there are five ways that the white paper authorizing executive execution of Americans violates the Constitution. These, he explains, are:
- There has to be an actual crime for there to be a punishment, and this paper authorizes execution without any crime.
- If, as the letter suggests, the president's authority to order executions without trial derives from the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed by the Congress, that would constitute a so-called bill of attainder, which he explains is a declaration that a certain person or class of people (i.e. terrorists in this case) are prima facie guilty of a crime. But as he notes, the Constitution specifically outlaws bills of attainder, saying in Article 1, Section 9, "No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law will be passed..."
- The letter violates the separation of powers, according the president the powers of executive, legislature and judiciary.
- The letter violates the Sixth Amendment in the Constitution's Bill of Rights, which guarantees everyone the right to a "speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense." Needless to say, an execution ordered by the president skips all of this.
- Reliance on the AUMF for presidential executions such as that of American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son means that President Obama, like President Bush before him, is claiming that the whole world (including the US) is a battlefield, and that he therefore has the absolute authority as Commander in Chief, to kill anyone, anywhere in the world, that he deems to be an enemy or a threat...
For the rest of this article by DAVE LINDORFF in ThisCantBeHappening!, the new independent Project Censored Award-winning online alternative newspaper, please go to: www.thiscantbehappening.