You'll Never Guess Who Wrote the Secret al-Awlaki Memo
I finally got around to reading the New York Times story about the secret legal memorandum the Justice Department drafted that asserts the White House had the authority to take out American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki. This being the Times, here's how they put it:
The secret document provided the justification for acting despite an executive order banning assassinations, a federal law against murder, protections in the Bill of Rights and various strictures of the international laws of war, according to people familiar with the analysis. The memo, however, was narrowly drawn to the specifics of Mr. Awlaki’s case and did not establish a broad new legal doctrine to permit the targeted killing of any Americans believed to pose a terrorist threat.
And how do we know these things? Well, it's hard to say since the memo is ... secret.
In any case, what I found fascinating about the whole story is who the authors of the memo were:
It was principally drafted by David Barron and Martin Lederman ...
Now, if those names seem familiar, it's likely because they were vehement critics of -- wait for it -- the war powers that President George W. Bush claimed. You can read their articles in the Harvard Law Review here.
Now, as someone who is generally leery of the war powers that presidents claim, I would just love to find out why everything from wiretapping to waterboarding an enemy combatant is an abomination unto mankind while assassinating an American citizen using secret legal justifications is awesome.
Can anyone help me out?