Is it legal for a president to issue extrajudicial "kill only" orders — that is, orders to kill but not capture a suspect, even if that suspect surrenders?"Extrajudicial." "A suspect." Osama bin Laden - who planned and executed the attacks on 9/11 and many others targeting civilians after that, and bragged and claimed credit for them, is a "suspect." Sirota thinks that this is a criminal court proceeding, with the "suspect," bin Laden, who is to be presumed innocent. Therefore, I suppose, the President has no right to do anything except to tell his Justice Department to go to a court and get an arrest warrant, and tell his state department to look into extradition agreements with other countries.
I suppose it's only a repetition to say this, but bin Laden was an enemy, not a suspect, and the operation that killed him was part of a war, not criminal proceedings. The order was to kill or capture - but yes, kill if the SEALs felt in any way that their life would be in jeopardy if they tried to capture him. Anyone who claims that this should have, or even could have, been like a police operation is completely clueless about military operations.
As for legality, yes, the President has the right to take out people who have and continue to target and kill innocent civilians here and abroad, especially when the targets are Americans. Don't take it from me. In Today's LA Times, Jed Rubenfeld, a law professor at Yale and former US Representative to the Council of Europe wrote:
An "extrajudicial execution," that's what many in the international community are now calling the killing of Osama bin Laden. [...]But as a liberal, you may not want to buy this from a Yale law professor who is not a known liberal. How about former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens?
These claims are absurd. Under any sane construction of the laws of war, the killing of Bin Laden was lawful regardless of whether he "raised his hands in surrender" or whether the American soldiers were under orders to shoot without giving him a chance to surrender. By suggesting otherwise, human rights lawyers only make international law look out of step with basic morality and common sense. [...]
A white flag makes a statement. It says, I'm giving up; I'm unarmed and pose no threat; I respect the laws of war under which this flag must never be used as a ruse, and I am not using it as a ruse to attack you. Even if we imagine Bin Laden actually waving a little white sock on a stick in Abbottabad, there would have been no reason for our soldiers to credit these statements. No soldier had a duty to take the slightest risk to his own life because Osama bin Laden promised to be good from now on.
Stevens said based on his knowledge of the facts, "I haven't the slightest doubt it was entirely appropriate for American forces to act" as they did. "It was not merely to do justice and avenge September 11."But the meme of bin Laden killing being some sort of an executive power grab - as absurd as may be - still continues:
Who is the president now prohibited from executing sans due process? At first glance, the answer might seem to be "anyone not named Osama bin Laden." Except, days after the bin Laden mission, Obama ordered the assassination of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, even though Awlaki hasn't been charged with — much less convicted of — a crime. If this is now acceptable, whom else can the president order killed without judicial review?I wrote about the al-Awlaki case last week (and why in this case being an American citizen does not afford him any extra protection), but suffice it to say in short that the rules of engaging the enemy is a bit different from arresting a criminal suspect. Al-Awlaki is a terrorist planner, recruiter and commander of a group that targets innocent American civilians. And as a matter of fact, al-Awlaki has been charged - in Yemen. He's being given a trial there too, where he refuses to show up. A federal judge has already thrown out a boneheaded legal challenge to the order to kill al-Awlaki. When an American citizen declares war against the United States, they no longer remain protected under the civil protections of the Constitution - they are treated just like any other enemy force.
But here comes the dumbest possible thing Sirota could write (although, as soon as he publishes his next diatribe on this, I will probably have to stand corrected):
Why were the Nazis entitled to due process, but accused terrorists aren't? Nazis killed millions of innocents and were convicted at the much-celebrated Nuremberg trials.This is a joke, right? Is Sirota seriously telling us that Americans did not kill any Nazis in the battlefield? That in World War II, American soldiers dutifully arrested Nazi solders and did not kill any of them? In fact, 113,000 in the Nazi army were dead during the invasion of Normandy. Oh, the extrajudicial killings! The horror!
In any case, all this boneheadedness, in my mind, raised more questions about David Sirota than it answered. Yes, we know that he has gone off the cliff in his zeal to bash Obama, just like the rest of his pals on the Professional Left. But the question still remains, is David Sirota really just clueless or does he simply play one on
Also, does David Sirota ever check to see if his "questions" have already been answered by legal experts and liberal former Supreme Court justices before he throws them out and feels real smart about himself?
Question numero tres, I know Sirota made a name for himself as a political strategist, but just how did he become an expert on Constitutional law, international law and the conduct of war? Corollary to numero tres, if he's not an expert, why doesn't he cite any credible sources backing up his accusations?
Next, did Barack Obama eat David Sirota's lunch in high school or something, which makes him so so mad at the President?
But perhaps most importantly, and finally, David, can you please show us on the doll (pretend it's your ego) where President Obama touched and hurt your ego? Thanks!