If you are wading through all the important words in the news today trying to divine if Herman will receive the Mark of Cain (and Clinton) for his alleged fleshly wins and losses, you might stumble across this back page filler:
Two of President Obama’s lawyers assert that not only may the president kill Americans he thinks have taken sides with the enemy, but his decision is not reviewable by the courts.
Before we measure the astronomic distance of presidential power which is unreviewable by other branches of government, let’s first compare the hypocrisy of media in their coverage of the temporary need to clear one’s throat caused by waterboarding with the finality of death caused by…well…killing. The latter at least on its face appears more consequential.
Whether George Bush could waterboard a foreign terrorist put the 4th Estate and the left (redundancy intended) into a civil rights frenzy. They demanded for foreign terrorists everything from full civilian trials to holding cells with something better than an ocean view.
Having an opinion on the legality of waterboarding was like having a pet rock – for awhile there, everyone had to have one. Yet one can scour the legions of opinions proffered by politicians, reporters, pundits, scholars, students and Internet illuminati and find nary one of them who actually set forth the text of the law they were relying upon to come to their decision of “legal” or “illegal” for waterboarding.
Oddly, there is a giant, gaping hole in the world of opinionati as to whether the President can target and kill an American citizen with no judicial determination of fault, which of course President Obama has already done.
That brings us then to CIA counsel Stephen Preston and Pentagon counsel Jeh Johnson, who were the administration lawyers who made today’s statement.
Their assertion that the President may “legally” target and kill an American references no law upon which they rely for “legality,” making their opinion about as reliable as your average Facebook posting about waterboarding.
Assume for a moment that somewhere in the growing morass of American law there is to be found a stated proclamation of Presidential power to target and kill an American citizen (Mussolini stands jealous). Assume the power is even desirable. What does it mean that the power is also not reviewable?
Unreviewable power is limitless. In law there is no review after the Supreme Court. Be they morally right or wrong, having the last word means the Supreme Court can’t ever be legally wrong. It works the same as Papal Infallibility in the Catholic Church - the highest authority can never be wrong, and change can only come from changing the highest authority.
If the President’s power to declare an American marked for extermination is unreviewable, the citizenry is then unable to declare the use of that power wrong no matter how it is used (or abused).
Measure the distance of that power – if the President were to come to New Jersey and shoot me dead, he need only declare me a terrorist supporter to move the matter from the State jurisdiction containing murder laws to the currently unseen jurisdiction of the unseen law book of presidential powers upon which the President’s men relied today.
Caution me not about “good kings” who never will abuse that power. I caution you first about the eroding and corrupting seduction of limitless power eventually leading to flawed men who someday may try.