The hullabaloo over a (finally !) leaked DOJ white paper, describing an OLC memo, which mangles language to justify usurping judicial principles in favor of swift death from above for our enemies, is palpable at the moment. I am relatively isolated from it as I don’t watch cable news, but I am none the less eyeballs deep in knowledgeable opinion about it online.
This week also encompassed the grilling of Obama’s new appointment for the head of the CIA, John Brennan, former “drone czar”. Those proceedings led to a topic for discussion which I should be very interested in as it develops: what would oversight of targeted drone killing look like ? (who decides who the president has the authority to kill) and should oversight be our only goal ? Of course we want to know more, of course we want accountability and transparency, we also want justice, not just for us, but also the dronee.
Shane’s article opens with a description of the FISA court and this comparison is literally scary, President Bush sidestepped FISA to illegally wiretap domestic communications. As a result, we’ve ended up with a National Counter Terrorism Center which monitors all of us. This is the norm now, the government can have any information it wants about you, but we have to fight for information on its activities, leaks are punished and many war crimes go unpunished.
A FISA model for adjudicating lethal strikes, as Shane’s article suggests is probably not one to be agreed upon. I find the legalease used in defining a court to be puzzling also, as it is simply a judge. There is no other voice, a dissenting one, present in the court. For the “signing of death warrants” as Judge Robertson puts it, and not just signing permission to wiretap, there should be more than a single judge present, as the article suggests, a whole new judicial body.
Are we skirting an issue ? we’re killing people without indictment, if we want a court for overseeing drone strikes and assassinations, why not actually present evidence to a jury and have an actual trial ? trial in absentia is not a new concept (As Al-Aulaqui was by the Yemeni gvt., not by ours.) and it would be more of a believable “due process” than the one afforded to suspected terrorists and militants now targeted by “signature” strikes, US citizens or nay.
I fear this is where my argument is headed into the absolutely ugly realization that we don’t want to go down this rabbit hole. Many of the American people really don’t want to know about this stuff and those in power know this; once you open up extra-judicial killing to oversight what have we created ?
We will have created a system for a simple thumbs up or thumbs down. Even if based on (possibly embellished/doctored, or worse fabricated) evidence presented at a trial, a real one, in a real court (we can all hope?) What ever judicial body is created it would bear a striking resemblance to a throng of Roman aristocrats deciding the fate of Christians who defy the emperor and his subjects.
Because the pretext for the trial, or appearance before the court is elimination, swift, devastating and collateral damage generating elimination. This is reductionist justice. This is not about right or wrong, it is simply 100% about domination. (Including overriding other countries and their justice systems)
Peace through superior fire power, and easily corruptible Department(s) of Justice.
There is no “punishment to fit the crime” in this model, the only punishment is death. Far from a balanced punishment, of course just inciting hatred can result in DFA, for those “too hard” to capture.
This is why we must quit before we go any further, we must quit the jingoism and the fear mongering, the banging of the war drum, the arguments about who qualifies for due process and who doesn’t. We must stop.
We, America, must retain what is left of the moral high ground, because its a steep slide down.
“We are a government of laws, not men” – John Adams Laws don’t get scared, covet power or harbor resentment.