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Obama and the Targeted Killing Program: What Would the Godfather Say?

 
 
Miller
 
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2013 02:55 am
What Would the Godfather Say?
Alice Ristroph

Alice Ristroph is a professor of constitutional and criminal law at Seton Hall University School of Law.
February 5, 2013


A classic scene from "The Godfather" has Michael Corleone describing his mafia don father as “no different from other powerful man, any man who’s responsible for other people, like a senator, or a president.” Michael’s girlfriend Kay tells Michael that he is naïve – “senators and presidents don’t have men killed.”

Kay is wrong, of course, but that doesn’t mean Michael is right. We’d like to believe that an execution ordered by the president is very different from one ordered by a mafia don. The president occupies a unique position of public authority, and his decisions are governed by law. What’s unsettling, though, is seeing those laws up close and in operation.

Laws that govern the use of lethal force come from several sources, but they typically emphasize similar terms, such as necessity, proportionality and imminence. Additionally, the Constitution promises that citizens will not be deprived of life without due process of law.

The more we learn about the Obama administration’s internal justifications for its targeted killing program, the more obvious it is that words like “imminence” or “due process” can and will be stretched beyond normal usage to accommodate whatever uses of force the president chooses. For example, the Justice Department memo appears to suggest that if an executive official “cannot be confident” that a suspected terrorist is not about to attack, the requirement of an “imminent” threat may be satisfied. And while due process had previously been interpreted to require judicial hearings and other mechanisms to address the risk of government error, the Justice Department’s discussion subordinates concerns about erroneous killing with a vague invocation of “the realities of combat.” In other words, in this memo uncertainty is grounds for violence rather than a reason for deliberation or caution. At worst, this memo evinces the same embrace of executive power that characterized the infamous Bush administration “torture memos.” At best, it reveals a different kind of naiveté – a view of a world in which the great responsibilities of a president necessitate unlimited discretion to do violence.
NYTimes.com 2/5/13
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Type: Discussion • Score: 12 • Views: 4,846 • Replies: 113

 
revelette
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2013 09:04 am
I am really disapointed in this administration in this regard. I know that Romney would have done no better, much less McCain, still, there is no justification that i can see that justifies this policy.
H2O MAN
 
  0  
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2013 09:15 am
@revelette,
revelette wrote:

I am really disapointed in this administration in this regard.



How could you not know Obama would disappoint you?

0 Replies
 
RABEL222
 
  2  
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2013 12:47 pm
Do you realize Gods gift to government, Bush started this in 2004. Now the conservatives are crying in their beer. Where were all you good christian conservative people in 2004?
Lustig Andrei
 
  3  
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2013 02:45 pm
Yeah, I know. And Obama's responsible for all that rain we got last night, too, curse him.

There is nothing new about any of this. Targeted killings have been a viable part of the m.o. of the US government since at least the end of WW II and the start of the so-called Cold War. Nobody objected or raised it as an issue as long as the targets were those damn' Commies and com-symps. When it was learned that the CIA had made a number of efforts to get Fidel Castro assassinated, the only American reaction was disappointment that the efforts had been unsuccessful. Nobody pointed fingers and said, "How dare they?" But, of course, Obama wasn't the prexy then. Makes a difference, doesn't it?
0 Replies
 
Berty McJock
 
  3  
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2013 02:58 pm
i think the worst thing about it is obama promised to be different, more open (where have we heard THAT a million times before???), and he was convincing, almost like jfkII.

yet he's shrouded it in even more secrecy than bush did, by classifying the legislation which apparently legalises it, ultimately giving him free reign to hunt anyone down who he accuses of being a threat to america, and to kill them, regardless of whether capture is feasible. and he gets away with it because the legality of it isnt even questionable in court. its legality is top secret.

the mind boggles.
Berty McJock
 
  2  
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2013 03:07 pm
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/feb/05/obama-kill-list-doj-memo?intcmp=239

Quote:
But when it comes to Obama's assassination power, this is exactly what his administration has done. It has repeatedly refused to disclose the principal legal memoranda prepared by Obama OLC lawyers that justified his kill list. It is, right now, vigorously resisting lawsuits from the New York Times and the ACLU to obtain that OLC memorandum. In sum, Obama not only claims he has the power to order US citizens killed with no transparency, but that even the documents explaining the legal rationale for this power are to be concealed. He's maintaining secret law on the most extremist power he can assert.


*edit: just remembered im in UK and you lot probably knew all that already, but we're just finding out over here.
0 Replies
 
Lustig Andrei
 
  3  
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2013 03:08 pm
@Berty McJock,
But who is it that Obama has ordered killed that didn't deserve it? Osama binLaden? Previous administrations have targeted other world leaders. Except for the demise of Muammar Qadaffi of Lybia, in which we weren't even really involved, what other leaders of nations have we targeted? It's easy to pick on Obama because he was a disappointment to so many who expected all kinds of miracles to occur. The man is a professional politician, fakrissake, and a pretty damn' good one. He is not a saint nor a miracle worker but a politician doing the best he can as head of state.
H2O MAN
 
  0  
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2013 03:09 pm
@Miller,
Miller wrote:

What Would the Godfather Say?


The Godfather said:
The President Decides He Can Kill US Citizens Without Making a Case to a Judge
0 Replies
 
Berty McJock
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2013 03:21 pm
@Lustig Andrei,
Quote:
But who is it that Obama has ordered killed that didn't deserve it?


we'll never know as they weren't allowed a fair trial. all we know is what obama says. i'm pretty certain assasination is a bit much for a 16 year old though

Quote:
what other leaders of nations have we targeted?


well there's saddam, a thoroughly nasty piece of work, but at the time NOT a threat to the U.S.
but it goes beyond that...he can target "a US Citizen Who is a Senior Operational Leader of al-Qaida or An Associated Force." basically anyone he likes, including U.S citizens, without capture or trial. if he says you're dead, you're dead...even if he cocks up and gets an innocent man.
oralloy
 
  -1  
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2013 03:26 pm
@revelette,
revelette wrote:
I am really disapointed in this administration in this regard. I know that Romney would have done no better, much less McCain, still, there is no justification that i can see that justifies this policy.


Sure there is. We're at war. That means our military gets to go blow up the enemy.

That's also why it's OK to detain the enemy without charges at Guantanamo: captured enemy soldiers can be held as POWs until the end of the war.
Lustig Andrei
 
  2  
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2013 03:26 pm
@Berty McJock,
Saddam was executed by his own people after we caught him. That was not an assassination.
Berty McJock
 
  3  
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2013 03:28 pm
@oralloy,
Quote:
That's also why it's OK to detain the enemy without charges at Guantanamo: captured enemy soldiers can be held as POWs until the end of the war.


a war that can never be won, so thats life as a pow.
Berty McJock
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2013 03:30 pm
@Lustig Andrei,
ok fair point, but thats not what this is really about. it's the lack of transparancy, the lack of due process, and the fact he could just possibly make a mistake.

it's not just political leaders this is about. ANYONE obama see's as affiliated to al-quaeda in any way, whether they are or not, could be a target.

*late edit: you did originally say "targeted" not "assasinated"...saddam was always a target. in the end they managed to capture him, which looked much better.
Berty McJock
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2013 03:33 pm
we know there were and are innocent people at guantanamo, they could easily have been on the list.
oralloy
 
  0  
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2013 03:36 pm
@RABEL222,
RABEL222 wrote:
Do you realize Gods gift to government, Bush started this in 2004. Now the conservatives are crying in their beer. Where were all you good christian conservative people in 2004?


Hey wait a minute. I for one am delighted over every single dronestrike that Obama orders.

I'm pretty pissed off over something else the little bugger is doing (no need to derail this thread when there are a dozen others covering that topic already). But as far as I'm concerned, Obama can dronestrike the enemy all he wants.

I especially like the dronestrikes where they use thermobaric weapons. Pure awesomeness! (And it gets the terrorists extra crispy.)
0 Replies
 
izzythepush
 
  0  
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2013 03:48 pm
@Lustig Andrei,
Lustig Andrei wrote:

Saddam was executed by his own people after we caught him. That was not an assassination.


You're quibbling Andy, the whole war was illegal, and based on a false premise. I know we were involved, but unlike America the vast majority of the population were opposed to the war. I would like to think we were coerced, but that would be letting Blair off the hook.

The reason Bush was able to perpetrate an illegal war with public support is because so many decent Americans, well versed of matters, historical, scientific and domestic, are woefully ignorant of world affairs. You know that's true, you're guilty of it yourself.

The world should thank the Republicans for shining a light on shadowy goings on, it's a pity the Democrats didn't do the same during the Bush era. It would have saved a lot of lives.
oralloy
 
  0  
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2013 04:32 pm
@Berty McJock,
Berty McJock wrote:
oralloy wrote:
That's also why it's OK to detain the enemy without charges at Guantanamo: captured enemy soldiers can be held as POWs until the end of the war.


a war that can never be won, so thats life as a pow.


I disagree that the war cannot be won. But regardless, they should have thought about that before they came here and massacred thousands of civilians.
oralloy
 
  -1  
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2013 04:32 pm
@Berty McJock,
Berty McJock wrote:
ok fair point, but thats not what this is really about. it's the lack of transparancy, the lack of due process, and the fact he could just possibly make a mistake.

it's not just political leaders this is about. ANYONE obama see's as affiliated to al-quaeda in any way, whether they are or not, could be a target.


We're at war. He's our Commander in Chief.
0 Replies
 
oralloy
 
  -1  
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2013 04:32 pm
@Berty McJock,
Berty McJock wrote:
we know there were and are innocent people at guantanamo, they could easily have been on the list.


Aside from the Uyghurs who we are holding because China insists on it, I don't think we know of any innocents at Guantanamo.
0 Replies
 
 

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