On Feb. 4, a leaked white paper from President Obama’s Department of Justice detailed many of the legal arguments authorizing the federal government to assassinate U.S. citizens in targeted killings.
The memo was leaked to NBC News and even specified the legal framework by which President Obama can order the execution of a U.S. citizen on foreign soil - without any right to due process in the courts - if that person is identified to be a terrorist or associated with a group such as al-Qa’ida.
The revelation about the Department of Justice legal authorization has immediately sparked outrage and disbelief across the political spectrum, with unlikely supporters and opponents of President Barack Obama’s drone policy arrayed in both political parties and throughout the media.
At the daily press briefing on Feb. 5, White House press secretary Jay Carney passionately defended the Obama Administration’s drone policy and executive authority to order assassinations of terror suspects by saying:
“These strikes are legal, they are ethical and they are wise.”
Interestingly, some of President Barack Obama’s most vocal supporters are also among his critics of his drone warfare policy to combat terrorism.
On Feb. 4, Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon authored a letter co-signed by seven other senate Democrats and three Republicans that was critical of President Obama’s lack of transparency on his drone policy and asked for clarification of its legal authorization.
Liberal Democrats who are more wedded to ideology than partisan political tactics are emerging as even harsher adversaries in dissenting from President Obama’s drone assassination policy.
On Feb. 5, progressive-liberal columnist Glenn Greenwald penned a scathing critique in The Guardian of President Obama’s drone policy by writing:
“And we have the current president asserting the power not merely to imprison or eavesdrop on US citizens without charges or trial, but to order them executed - and to do so in total secrecy, with no checks or oversight. If you believe the president has the power to order US citizens executed far from any battlefield with no charges or trial, then it's truly hard to conceive of any asserted power you would find objectionable.”
Most of these ideologically-driven liberal-progressives fully understand that although they may currently view President Obama as a benevolent force – a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, no less – there will come a day when a future conservative president is able to command this same power to order the assassination of suspected terrorists.
When that day comes, those who remained silent or supported President Obama’s drone policy will have no moral high ground to stand on.