Sunday, April 11, 2010

I Am The Law! Barack Obama Channels Judge Dread.

In a move that was only given the play it deserved on the left blogosphere, Barack Obama doubled down on George W. Bush’s expansion of executive power.  In a bold move he decided that he could be judge, jury and executioner of a U.S. Citizen.  Forget that quaint document called the Bill Of Rights, no need for that.  No need for the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of due process. No need for Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of a trial by jury. As a matter of fact why bother with the Constitution itself?  No need for Article Three of the Constitution setting up of a separate judiciary. No need for the limits placed on the president by Article Two of the Constitution.

After all we now live under the Unitary Executive. This all wise man (or woman) can listen into any all conversations we may have. He or she may indefinitely detain us if he or she thinks we might be some sort of terrorist or terrorist sympathizer. The president my use enhanced interrogation, what used to be called torture, to extract a confession of our wrongs. The president may indefinitely detain us, even when she or he knows we are innocent, for political convenience.  The president, with the craven support of the legislature, can set up the most ridiculous of Kangaroo Courts to obtain preordained convictions. Not satisfied with Civilian Kangaroo Courts the President can send people to Military Kangaroo Courts with even less protections for the accused. Or the President has the option of not even bothering with those pesky courts at all. She can just hold people indefinitely because, well just because.
The president does not have to offer any logic or even bother to listen to any voice of reason on this matter.  Barack Obama is now channeling Louis XIV, “L'tat, c'est moi” and no pesky legal mind like Dawn Johnsen is going to tell him different.  Now that he is Lord and Master over us Barack Obama has not merely walked away from his Civil Rights advocacy of the campaign, he has sprinted away at full-tilt.

Having taken on the mantel of the Divine Right of Kings, Obama has now determined that he has exclusive rights over matters of life and death. The only limit seems that he still is leery of using these powers inside the borders of the United States. These absolute powers seem only to apply in foreign lands where our Predator drones are allowed untrammeled access. Not much comfort for those unlucky people living in the free-fire zones of Afghanistan, Northern Pakistan or Iraq. You can get shredded by .50 caliber machine gun fire even if you are totally innocent Reuters’ reporter carrying nothing more dangerous than a camera bag.  If you are an Afghan civilian or a resident of Pakistan’s more lawless regions, there may be a missile strike in your future.

The regal priorities are not limited to blowing up rural innocents attending wedding parties, as Obama adds the duo of hubris and hegemony to the mix.  His dressing down of Karzai in a bit of midnight madness was another example of his following the Sun King’s example. His dressing down of the Afghan leader was egregious and counterproductive.  Other than totally humiliating a proud man and diminishing him in the eyes of his citizens, what was accomplished? Karzai returned the favor to Obama by blowing kisses to the Iranians and by paling around with the Chinese. Just what the campaign to win the hearts and minds of Afghan people needed: a foreign power tearing around the hinterland slaughtering civilians willy-nilly and a pissed-off leader whose support we need to effect the policy of pacification.

Instead of reevaluating the policy of using drones what Obama has now done is double down on this tactic.  As Dan Carlin points out this policy will eventually bite us on the butt and hard.  We are setting the groundwork. We are setting the acceptable uses of these weapons.  We are setting the bar for what is acceptable collateral damage. And we are being ridiculously careless about this. We are being careless because of our temporary monopoly on these weapons.  When the Chinese or the Russians or (god help us) the North Koreans get these weapons our protests will fall on deaf ears.  We won’t have a leg to stand on because we have been perfect Visigoths in our use of these weapons.  We have shown all the ethical consideration of a hoard of Mongol warriors sacking a medieval city.

Anwar al-Awlaki might be every inch the evil, vile, malevolent bastard the Administration thinks he is. He might be in the habit of kicking cute puppies, drowning adorable kittens and eating baked newborns every day for breakfast, but it is still wrong to assassinate him by remote control drone. If we have evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, then we should capture and try him in a real court of law. We have no right to act like Mafiosi putting out a contract to whack him.

And let’s be clear, that is all Barack Obama did the other day. He acted no better than a Mafia Don telling one of his Capos to “take care of that business with Awlaki.” It is only a matter of degree and, if one will pardon the pun, execution between sending out Luca Brasi and sending out a predator drone.  The only real difference is that Congresswoman Jane Harman would never try to defend Don Corleone lawless behavior but she will come to the defense of the President.