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Old Sep 30th 2011, 09:19 PM
The_Dot The_Dot is offline
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Default Obama admin executes two US citizens in Yemen

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/worl...-us-yemen.html

No charges, no trial, just a death sentence by presidential decree. These guys were not on a battlefield.

I'm not mourning their loss, in and of itself. But I am having a hard time figuring how this wasn't a major violation of US law...
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Old Sep 30th 2011, 10:24 PM
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Default Re: Obama admin executes two US citizens in Yeme

Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Dot View Post
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/worl...-us-yemen.html

No charges, no trial, just a death sentence by presidential decree. These guys were not on a battlefield.

I'm not mourning their loss, in and of itself. But I am having a hard time figuring how this wasn't a major violation of US law...
Not sure that the legal issue at stake is their citizenship.

The drone strikes themselves are illegal. Who they are targeting are pretty irrelevant details. It's not like the US government has the right to kill non-citizens inside the United States with impunity...
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Old Sep 30th 2011, 10:52 PM
MeMyselfAndI MeMyselfAndI is offline
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Default Re: Obama admin executes two US citizens in Yeme

They were your country's enemies, were they not? So, your government killed them. Good for your government. I do not see what the problem is.
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Old Oct 1st 2011, 10:28 AM
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Default Re: Obama admin executes two US citizens in Yeme

Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Dot View Post
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/worl...-us-yemen.html

No charges, no trial, just a death sentence by presidential decree. These guys were not on a battlefield.

I'm not mourning their loss, in and of itself. But I am having a hard time figuring how this wasn't a major violation of US law...
This particular issue is very, very complicated.

1. US constitutional law is rather unclear on this point, but it does appear that the President might actually have the legal power to order assassinations of US citizens (at least outside of US territory). This point was specifically addressed under the administration of GW Bush and the legal opinions given then were inconclusive (which by default, makes it technically legal since the illegality isn't clearly defined).

2. As Donkey noted, the actual drone strike used to carry out the assassination is certainly illegal by only by international law (not under US law), yet the US government has been engaging in this tactic on a routine basis for several decades now under multiple presidential administrations going back at least to Bush 41 (using cruise missiles instead of drone missiles).

3. The US citizenship status of the victim in this particular case is highly questionable. That is to say, any person who actually and formally defects from the USA to another country automatically loses their US citizenship. In this particular case, the US citizen victim has made every effort to defect from the USA (actually joining Al Queda) - the only thing that prevents the legal formality is the fact that Al Queda is not a nation-state that one can pledge allegience to. This appears to be a legal technicality or loophole. On the surface, or in the 'spirit of the law', the victim has clearly renounced his US citizenship in practice, which would negate the question of legality entirely.

4. This issue is remarkably different than the torture issue under GW Bush given that there is substantive legal opinions that hold that the ordering of assassinations outside of US territory is defacto legal, while the ordering of torture inside of US territory (or against a US citizen) is clearly illegal. No Bush Administration official has ever been charged with any wrongdoing in the many known cases of illegal torture (even when used against a US citizen apprehended inside the USA).

All in all, on the basis of the Bush Administration engaging in widespread torture policy, and the defacto legality this was given (despite its blatant illegality), I think it is a moot point that the Obama Administration is engaging in a similar, albeit less obnoxious and apparently lesser illegal act - particularly given that the victim was, in the 'spirit of the law' no longer a US citizen and that extra-territorial presidential assassination orders are defacto legal under US law.

In other words, I consider this act of the Obama Administration to have sufficient amount of legal fig leaves to cover it. The same cannot be said for the Bush Administration's usage of torture (specifically against a US citizen apprehended in the USA). If the Bush Administration crimes are deemed unworthy of criminal prosecution, then the Obama Administration crimes, since they are much smaller and a much less clear violation of law cannot be considered criminal acts without engaging in extreme partisan bias.
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Old Oct 1st 2011, 10:33 AM
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Default Re: Obama admin executes two US citizens in Yeme

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They were your country's enemies, were they not? So, your government killed them. Good for your government. I do not see what the problem is.
The rule of law.

Until you can instinctively understand that this was, and should be, an extremely reprehensible illegal act, Russia cannot be ruled as a democracy and requires the heavy hand of Czar Putin.

(Note: I'm referring to the fact that you are an educated middle class Russian citizen with characteristic Russian viewpoints - if your viewpoint is popular in Russia and I suspect it is, that shows how far Russia is from the actual rule of law and democracy).

In a democracy, the integrity of the rule of law is far more important than any given criminal act. It is better to let a criminal go free than to violate the principles of the proper rules of law.
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Old Oct 3rd 2011, 09:55 AM
The_Dot The_Dot is offline
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Default Re: Obama admin executes two US citizens in Yeme

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Originally Posted by Michael View Post
In other words, I consider this act of the Obama Administration to have sufficient amount of legal fig leaves to cover it. The same cannot be said for the Bush Administration's usage of torture (specifically against a US citizen apprehended in the USA). If the Bush Administration crimes are deemed unworthy of criminal prosecution, then the Obama Administration crimes, since they are much smaller and a much less clear violation of law cannot be considered criminal acts without engaging in extreme partisan bias.
I'm not sure I follow you on a couple points here.

First, the idea that just because X was not prosecuted means Y cannot be prosecuted doesn't really work. It also ignores the fact that one can believe that both X and Y merit prosecution.

More importantly, how is killing someone a "smaller" violation of law than torture? This seems contrary to Western jurisprudence in general which seems to hold murder up as the gravest possible criminal act.
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Old Oct 3rd 2011, 09:57 AM
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Default Re: Obama admin executes two US citizens in Yeme

The precedent is quite unnerving.

But I'm not sure I know what alternatives exist. Arresting Awlaki and bringing him back for trial before a jury of his peers didn't seem like it was going to present itself as an option in the foreseeable future.

Could/should he have been first tried in absentia?
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Old Oct 3rd 2011, 05:52 PM
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Default Re: Obama admin executes two US citizens in Yeme

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Originally Posted by The_Dot View Post
I'm not sure I follow you on a couple points here.

First, the idea that just because X was not prosecuted means Y cannot be prosecuted doesn't really work. It also ignores the fact that one can believe that both X and Y merit prosecution.
You are completely missing the point that I made.

(no doubt because I said bad words about GW Bush - that always seems to get your goat!)

1. Torture is a clear-cut illegal act according to US law. Perpetrators who engaged in it received nothing - no investigation, no charges, not even a slap on the wrist or even an acknowledgement that an illegal act was committed.

2. Extraterritorial assassinations of a US citizen in a war-zone is anything but clear-cut illegal. Indeed, many legal scholars will assert (and I believe they are correct) that the US Executive has this legal authority. That is to say, it is almost impossible to substantively assert that an actually illegal act took place. You'd need a SCOTUS decision on the validity of the crime even before you could investigate it, let alone lay charges.

Thus, there is a huge difference between these two events. My key point being that if the first case drew no investigation, no charges and not even an acknowledgement that an illegal act took place (even though lots of physical evidence is readily available - no one denies it), I'm suggesting that it is quite unlikely that an investigation or charges would follow from an act that is comparatively more complicated and less clearly illegal.

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Originally Posted by The_Dot View Post
More importantly, how is killing someone a "smaller" violation of law than torture? This seems contrary to Western jurisprudence in general which seems to hold murder up as the gravest possible criminal act.
I don't play games with moral equivilence bullshit. I'm talking about law here.

Under US law, torture is illegal. There just isn't any wriggle room there.

Under US law, Presidential orders of extra-territorial assassinations of US citizens in a war-zone is decidedly unclear and very complicated, with the benefit of the doubt falling on the side of legality.

Big difference in law.
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Old Oct 4th 2011, 08:42 AM
Tom Palven Tom Palven is offline
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Default Re: Obama admin executes two US citizens in Yeme

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Originally Posted by Michael View Post
The rule of law.

Until you can instinctively understand that this was, and should be, an extremely reprehensible illegal act, Russia cannot be ruled as a democracy and requires the heavy hand of Czar Putin.

(Note: I'm referring to the fact that you are an educated middle class Russian citizen with characteristic Russian viewpoints - if your viewpoint is popular in Russia and I suspect it is, that shows how far Russia is from the actual rule of law and democracy).

In a democracy, the integrity of the rule of law is far more important than any given criminal act. It is better to let a criminal go free than to violate the principles of the proper rules of law.
Here in the US the "rule of law" is whatever the Supreme Court says it is. For exanmple, it was once illegal for police to break and enter into a person's home without a warrrant according to the 4th amendment in the Bill of Rights, but the Nixon administration sponsored the No-Knock Laws, Teddy Kennedy co-sponsored them, and the Supreme Court upheld them in a tri-partisan effort depriving US citizens of one of the great tenets of old English common law that "A man's home is his castle."

When MeMySelfandI says "They were your country's enemies, were they not? So, your government killed them. Good for your government. I do not see what the problem is" what he is stating is pure utilitarianism such as that espoused by the late John Rawls, and currently by esteemed professor Jean Bethke Elshtain, who holds that torture, murder by drones, and anything slse the state does is acceptable, a view held by almost all philosophy professors in Western society. Utilitariasm is the ethical apology for statism which holds that whatever the state does is justified by its assumed good intentions. It holds the state as paramount, ethics which are directly opposite to the Golden Rule which speaks to the individual.

What MeMyslefand I fails to recognize is that a government is not the same as a country. A country consists of the land and the people on it. Governments come and go, but the mountains and plains remain. By his reckoning, since Jews and minorities were deemed to be enemies by the NAZi government of Germany, it was perfectly proper to kill them.

Last edited by Tom Palven; Oct 4th 2011 at 08:46 AM.
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Old Oct 4th 2011, 01:33 PM
The_Dot The_Dot is offline
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Default Re: Obama admin executes two US citizens in Yeme

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Originally Posted by Michael View Post
You are completely missing the point that I made.

(no doubt because I said bad words about GW Bush - that always seems to get your goat!)
Mostly in your imagination. I think GWB was like every other President (including the current one) - high points and low points. I have nothing but contempt for his shredding the Constitution when it comes to Habeas Corpus and the Fourth Amendment.

I don't know from where you've pulled the idea that I am some big GWB fan, but I can assure you you are solidly wrong.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael View Post
1. Torture is a clear-cut illegal act according to US law. Perpetrators who engaged in it received nothing - no investigation, no charges, not even a slap on the wrist or even an acknowledgement that an illegal act was committed.

2. Extraterritorial assassinations of a US citizen in a war-zone is anything but clear-cut illegal. Indeed, many legal scholars will assert (and I believe they are correct) that the US Executive has this legal authority. That is to say, it is almost impossible to substantively assert that an actually illegal act took place. You'd need a SCOTUS decision on the validity of the crime even before you could investigate it, let alone lay charges.

Thus, there is a huge difference between these two events. My key point being that if the first case drew no investigation, no charges and not even an acknowledgement that an illegal act took place (even though lots of physical evidence is readily available - no one denies it), I'm suggesting that it is quite unlikely that an investigation or charges would follow from an act that is comparatively more complicated and less clearly illegal.


I don't play games with moral equivilence bullshit. I'm talking about law here.

Under US law, torture is illegal. There just isn't any wriggle room there.

Under US law, Presidential orders of extra-territorial assassinations of US citizens in a war-zone is decidedly unclear and very complicated, with the benefit of the doubt falling on the side of legality.

Big difference in law.
I am afraid the benefit of the doubt does not fall on the side of legality here. There are serious Constitutional issues at play, and I believe that a solid case can be made that this action was a direct violation of the target's Sixth Amendment rights.

Quote:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy 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 defence.
It appears there is a case to be made that this action violates every single provision of the Sixth Amendment.
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