What Constitution?

What is happening to us? A Washington Post article today reveals that the Obama White House has adopted a former Bush Administration policy of keeping a secret “hit list” authorizing the assassination of American citizens living abroad, if strong evidence exists of their organizing or having organized attacks against the United States or U.S interests.

The Fifth Amendment states that “no person shall… be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

Some may claim, “They’re terrorists. They belong to Al-Qaeda. This is war.” Yes, we are at war with the world, and the entire globe is our battlefield. But these “terrorists” are not killed on a battlefield; they are usually murdered in their sleep, along with their wives and children. And will someone please show me the evidence that they are indeed terrorists or Al-Qaeda operatives? Have not dozens of our foreign detainees (so-called “terrorists,” apprehended on the flimsiest of evidence, held without charge and tortured for years outside our shores) been recently released for lack of any evidence that they were terrorists? How dare we execute American citizens without due process of law? Can’t we see how dangerous this is? Hello! Is there anybody home?!

Looking at history, from ancient Greece and Rome, down to the British Empire, we see that when a democracy (or republic) becomes an empire, it cannot do so without essentially violating its own values, having one type of law or justice for its own citizens and another for the poor suckers who live under its iron boot. We saw that in our own nation’s early history. That is why we have a Bill of Rights (1st-10th Amendments. Have you read them recently? An amazing document.), without which the States would not have ratified the Constitution. They did not want to endure from a new government the violations of civil liberties that had been endured from the British Empire (unlawful searches and seizures, the quartering of troops in homes, censorship of the press, military justice instead of trial by jury for Colonists who were British subjects, etc.).

Here we have just another outgrowth of the U.S. “War on Terror” turned against its own citizens. If there is evidence, then let them be brought to trial and tried on the basis of that evidence by a jury of their peers. But do not murder U.S. citizens in their beds simply because there is “strong evidence” that they may be Al-Qaeda operatives and you can get away with it in a foreign country. For the trigger-happy, the mere suspicion of guilt may be enough to warrant liquidation. But thank God we have a Constitution to protect us from such vigilante justice. At least, we used to.

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2 Comments

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  1. I, like you, am worried about where we are headed in this country, Steve. A growing number of people are showing an increasing contempt for our system of laws and justice. Civil liberties should apply to all.

  2. It's a natural byproduct of being in a perpetual state of war, without end, without clear purpose. The Framers of the Constitution foresaw the dangers inherent in this, which is why they invested the power to declare war in the Congress, a power it has let slip from its hands.

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