Thursday, September 16, 2010

With Presidential Drones, Who Needs Judges?

by Nat Hentoff

Cato Institute
September 15, 2010

President Barack Obama, CIA Director Leon Panetta and Defense Secretary Robert Gates are now defendants in a historic lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Washington, by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights. The case is brought on behalf of American citizen Nasser al-Awlaki.

The complaint in the case starkly and accurately lays out the constitutional issue at stake: "This case concerns the executive's asserted authority to carry out 'targeted killings' of U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism far from any field of armed conflict."

As I and other reporters have confirmed, the complaint continues: "the (U.S.) government maintains lists of suspects — 'kill lists' — against whom lethal force can be used without charge, trial or conviction."

That is an utterly clear description of how to deny the Fifth Amendment's command that "no person shall be ... deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law."