Is the ACLU right about “targeted killings?”

 

I did my usual snorting and scoffing when I heard about the ACLU’s latest lawsuit to enjoin the killing of terror suspects abroad. But is it possible that they’re on to something?

According to the complaint, the CIA and JSOC (Joint Special Operations Committee) maintain a “kill list” of individuals whom the US can kill anywhere, anytime. The list includes US citizens. The ACLU appears to concede that the US can kill its enemies in war zones, such as Iraq and Afghanistan. But what authorizes the government to summarily kill US citizens on suspicion that they’re plotting terror activity? Even if the targets are guilty of treason, the Constitution requires the testimony of two witnesses or a confession in open court.

The ACLU also objects to killing foreign nationals outside of war zones; however, that argument is much weaker. But US citizens? Like my fellow Ricocheterians over here, I have my qualms about the ease with which the government can now send a drone to do its dirty work.

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[Ed.: link fixed at 7:47 am]

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There are 11 comments.

  1. Jimmy Carter Member

    Your link doesn’t work.

    • #1
    • September 1, 2010, at 7:00 AM PDT
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  2. Profile Photo Member

    I know the ACLU is not popular among the Ricochet set, but I really do sleep better and night knowing they are such dogged S.O.B.s in second-guessing the government in everything. Though their definition of civil liberties is at odds with that of most conservatives, in many instances — possibly this one — they get it exactly right. I wish the mainstream press was as skeptical of government. I hope it’s not true, but I have no problem with making the government prove it’s not true.

    • #2
    • September 1, 2010, at 7:03 AM PDT
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  3. Adam Freedman Contributor
    Adam Freedman Post author
    Like my fellow Ricocheterians over here, I have my qualms about the ease with which the government can now send a drone to do its dirty work. ·

    Sorry the link didn’t work (thanks Jimmy) — I’m referring to some of the comments to Rob’s recent “Grab This” post: https://ricochet.com/conversations/Grab-This

    • #3
    • September 1, 2010, at 7:44 AM PDT
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  4. Ottoman Umpire Inactive

    “Even a broken clock is right twice a day.”

    • #4
    • September 1, 2010, at 7:44 AM PDT
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  5. Adam Freedman Contributor
    Adam Freedman Post author
    Ottoman Umpire: “Even a broken clock is right twice a day.” · Sep 1 at 7:44am

    How funny — that was exactly the phrase that went through my mind when I read the ACLU’s complaint. But maybe Trace is right, maybe in some crazy way we need the ACLU around.

    • #5
    • September 1, 2010, at 7:48 AM PDT
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  6. River Inactive

    You’re right Adam, this is exactly the kind of Executive power we must keep in check. Rob Long’s Grab This shows us exactly why. The world of science fiction and RoboCop law enforcement is right around the corner, and we’ll see it in our lifetime.

    Kudos to the ACLU. Surprise, surprise. They don’t usually live up to their name and wield the sword of justice blindly, without ‘progressive’ bias, If they did, I’d be one of their staunchest supporters.

    • #6
    • September 1, 2010, at 9:07 AM PDT
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  7. Aaron Miller Member

    If the war took place on our own soil, the American citizen could beg the benefit of the doubt. When you travel overseas to be with the enemy… not so much.

    The ACLU might be right on this issue, but I’m not sure. Whether or not the war occurs here or overseas does seem to matter. Obviously, authority for executions without trials would be dangerous domestically. It would also be a danger if it could be applied willy-nilly to anyone overseas. But to an American who joins our enemy’s company in a war zone? Where’s the room for abuse?

    • #7
    • September 1, 2010, at 9:22 AM PDT
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  8. Adam Freedman Contributor
    Adam Freedman Post author
    Aaron Miller: But to an American who joins our enemy’s company in a war zone? Where’s the room for abuse? · Sep 1 at 9:22am

    Aaron, the ACLU is exempting war zones. They’re talking about, among other things, predator strikes against US citizens in places like Yemen, far from the field of combat. The abuse is to the Constitution. Even assuming the CIA intelligence is correct, at worst these guys are guilty of treason (which includes “levying war” against the US, “adhering to” our enemies, or giving them “aid and comfort”). And the Constitution has specific procedural requirements before a person can be convicted of treason.

    The individuals who have been targeted thus far may well be dangerous, but shouldn’t all citizens get the benefit of the Constitution? Membership has its rewards and all that.

    • #8
    • September 2, 2010, at 1:00 AM PDT
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  9. Aaron Miller Member
    Adam Freedman: The ACLU appears to concede that the US can kill its enemies in war zones…

    Yes, I see it in plain English now. My mistake. The ACLU does seem to be right.

    I can remember one other time that happened, though I can’t recall what it was. I’m told Greenpeace was once a sane organization, too.

    • #9
    • September 2, 2010, at 1:09 AM PDT
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  10. Profile Photo Member

    ACLU is right on this one.

    But could we make an exception for Lady GaGa?

    • #10
    • September 2, 2010, at 12:24 PM PDT
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  11. Duane Oyen Member
    Adam Freedman
    Ottoman Umpire: “Even a broken clock is right twice a day.” · Sep 1 at 7:44am
    How funny — that was exactly the phrase that went through my mind when I read the ACLU’s complaint. But maybe Trace is right, maybe in some crazy way we need the ACLU around. · Sep 1 at 7:48am

    We don’t necessarily need this ACLU, we very definitely need an ACLU- a more sensible one, however, addressing libertarian and constitutional questions rather than applying reflexive anti-American/pacifist/leftist criteria.

    That said, this is the kind of policy that works in war-time, but should only be implemented in the case of US citizens by a top-level (SecDef, etc) determination and finding describing the circumstances.

    • #11
    • September 2, 2010, at 12:47 PM PDT
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