Fox News’ Shannon Bream interviewed Judge Andrew Napolitano about the White Paper released by the Department of Justice and Obama saying drone strikes against American citizens are legal. The assumption is that an American citizen can be murdered by their government through any means, not just drone strikes – without a trial – without due process. Press Kid Jay Carney today was questioned about the authority behind ignoring the Fifth Amendment. His mouth was moving but he had no valid point to make. As Obama told us when campaigning in 2008, “words matter.” We’ve learned that only his words matter, U.S. laws do not. Here’s a very loose transcript of the video you can view here.
SHANNON BREAM: Questions about whether or not the administration has created the power to kill terrorists suspects, even if they are not involved in an active plot to attack the U.S. or kill American citizens. (A clip plays of Jay Carney’s briefing today)
JAY CARNEY: This President takes his responsibilities very seriously, and first and foremost, that’s his responsibility to protect the United States and American citizens. He also takes his responsibility in conducting the war against al-Qaeda, as authorized by Congress, in a way that is consistent with our Constitution and all the applicable laws. [readers, you must understand, that’s a lie, an bold and terrible lie, that is no way “consistent” with the Consitution]
JUDGE NAPOLITANO: This one is carrying things to an extreme that most Americans won’t recognize…a fair interpretation of this 16-page document and of Jay Carney, the President’s Press Secretary, or Jay’s interpretation of it, is that the President or “a high-ranking U.S. Government official, I’m quoting from the document, can kill anyone he wants, NO MATTER WHAT THE LAWS SAY, NO MATTER WHAT THE CONSTITUTION SAYS, no matter what this President himself has said…that is nowhere justifiable under the Constitution, nowhere justifiable under Federal law. In fact Federal law and the Constitution are to the opposite. Unless you are actually pulling a trigger, within moments of pulling the trigger or dropping a bomb – the government has an obligation to do its best to arrest you, charge you with a crime and prosecute you before it can indiscriminately kill you.
In the case at hand, the three people killed were Americans. One was Anwar al-Awlaki, admittedly an anti-American cleric who the government says participated in plots against us. The other one was his 16-year-old son and his son’s friend – neither of whom had remotely anything to do with the reason the drones were sent there.
This power used today against an unpopular target might be used in the future against another President against a person the President doesn’t like but as to whom for there is no moral justification for pursuing whatsoever.
Another concern is, this 16-page White Paper is written so vaguely that the logic of it could be extrapolated to permit the President to kill Americans here in the United States.
The third concern that Congress should have is that they are upset that they didn’t know about this, because there is another federal statute that the President violated when he did this without telling them. The President ramps up the War on Terror, decides to move into another area or use the CIA to engage people, whether to arrest them or kill them, he’s required to tell the Senate and House Intelligence Committees ahead of time and get their consent. He apparently didn’t do that, and so they are burned by this.
SHANNON BREAM: There are other memos out there, you’ve seen them, I’ve seen them, that suggest extreme religious views, people who are pro-life – some of those people could be considered to be domestic terrorists, their names could be on watch lists, they could be monitored by the Government – how far can this be taken?
JUDGE NAPOLITANO: Early in this administration, Janet Napolitano (no relation), the Secretary of Homeland Security, issued a memorandum. I remember discussing it with Bill O’Reilly in a whimsical way, but it’s really terrifying. The memorandum said people who are pro-life, people who believe in the right to keep and bear arms, returning veterans, people who think the government is too big and the IRS is too powerful, could be characterized as domestic terrorists. Well, that group of people could characterize two-thirds of our country, and this language, this frivolous use of this language by this administration, and then claiming they have the right to use force to stop dead in their tracks the people who fit into these categories violates the principles of the Declaration of Independence and violates the supremecy of the Constitution which they have taken an oath to uphold. This is all very dangerous stuff. The government gets it’s powers from the consent of the governed. Do you know anybody who consented to the government doing this?
Shannon asked the Judge if now that this is so public, does he think the administration will go forward with this policy.
NAPOLITANO: No, the administration is going to run into a brick wall on this.
We had years of intelligence on Anwar al-Awlaki. Many in government and in the FBI thought he was involved in the September 11, 2001 attacks. He was arrested for questioning in the attacks. Arrested a couple of times more for prostitution and passport fraud, yet we did nothing. He could have been tried and stripped of his citizenship.
Navy SEAL Adm. Eric T. Olson, speaking at the Aspen Security Forum, discussed the threat posed by Awlaki. “He’s a dual-passport holder who has lived in the United States,” Olson said, “so he understands us much better than we understand him.”
In reality, Awlaki has given us a shocking abundance of material with which we can judge and understand him. He has recorded more than 100 hours of audio lectures, more than bin Laden, almost all of them in colloquial English. He has also figured in a long trail of investigations, including FBI and 9/11 Commission documents that are available to the public. Taken together, these sources reveal a portrait of a conflicted man whose path to radicalization started in the 1990s and steadily progressed to his present-day status as a terrorist icon.
Awlaki is not difficult to know, as Olson suggests, and he is not a two-dimensional talking point, as Greenwald would have us believe. He is a man, complicated and at times confounding, but accessible through his words and actions.
Awlaki was born in the United States, but spent his formative teen years in Yemen, during the height of the jihad against the Soviets. He reportedly grew up watching videos of the mujahideen as entertainment, in much the same way his American contemporaries watched Knight Rider.
He returned to the United States to study engineering at Colorado State University. According to his roommate, Awlaki spent one summer at a jihadi training camp in Afghanistan during the early 1990s, though that claim has not been independently corroborated. When he returned from Afghanistan, he was more interested in religion than engineering, and he began a career as an imam, or Muslim preacher.
Preaching in Colorado during the mid-1990s, Awlaki’s stirring sermons on jihad reportedly moved a Saudi student to drop out of college and join jihadists in Bosnia and later Chechnya, eventually meeting death in battle.
When Awlaki moved to a bigger congregation in San Diego in the late 1990s, he inspired ever greater devotion in public, while failing his Islamic principles in private with arrests for soliciting prostitutes and hanging around a schoolyard, according to 9/11 Commission records. He also met with an al Qaeda facilitator named Ziyad Khaleel. The nature of their relationship remains unknown, but the FBI subsequently opened an investigation into Awlaki. Source: Foreign Policy
Due Process – The Fifth Amendment of the U.S Constitution:
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, withoutdue process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Some believe this White Paper appeared because Obama had already blown away al-Awlaki, an American, his son, an American and Samir Kahn an American, and so had to get something on the record, just in case someone decided to do something about his ongoing lawlessness. Even Democrat Bob Beckel said today on The Five “this is murder without any evidence behind it.” We did have evidence, we just didn’t use it. Other thoughts are that the administration doesn’t want to deal with Muslims in Gitmo, the trials, the photographs – after being so fervently against it. Obama promised to close Gitmo as one of his first acts as President in 2009. He couldn’t do it. We knew he couldn’t.
A quick note on Samir Kahn who was killed in the same drone strike when Anwar al-Alwaki received his 72 virgins, which Muhammed would surely not deny him even though he abandoned his “Islamic principles” at times. As we know, school children are fresh meat for many Islamic males. Kahn was about 25 years old on the day he and al-Awlaki met death by drone. Kahn was not a cleric, he was an internet guru, born in Saudi Arabia, grew up in Queens and Westbury, New York, was a high school cheerleader, a member of the glee club and worked on the school newsletter. His family moved to Charlotte, North Carolina in 2004 and Kahn left the U.S. for Yemen in 2009. He was the publisher of Inspire, an English language jihadi newletter that made a lot of noise when it went live on the Internet. Inspire solicited young America Muslims to leave the U.S. and come to Yemen for training in jihad.
It’s difficult to see the deaths of these two men in any light other than thankfully no longer able to menace U.S. citizens, but we do have the Fifth Amendment and there should be no way around it for a President, an Attorney General or Congress.
We have the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which allows the government to detain U.S. citizens, militarily, without a trial, and indefinitely. Much of Congress says this cannot happen under the NDAA, but it can. The ACLU (don’t agree with often, this time I do) says the White Paper is “chilling.” Judge Napolitano says the Department of Homeland Security policies are “terrifying,” and Obama’s White Paper “dangerous.