Senate Wants Secret Obama Assassination Court

In the arguments over Barack Obama’s kill list and the arrogance of his administration to openly state that they can assassinate American citizens that they determine are terrorists with drone strikes, United States Senators are now wanting a piece of the action. That’s right. They are not demanding that he follow the United States Constitution, specifically the Sixth Amendment, but rather be judge, jury and executioner with them as advisors.

U.S. Senators were floating the idea of an assassination court as an attempt to rein in their drone program, but we all know what will really happen when the Senate gets its hands on it; it will expand.

Fox News reports,

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The idea was bandied about during Thursday’s confirmation hearing for CIA director nominee John Brennan, who fueled the talk by saying he thinks the concept is “worthy of discussion.” The nominee, as a vocal supporter of the targeted-killing program, has come under scrutiny for what some lawmakers see as the administration’s unchecked power to kill, even if the target is an American citizen.

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Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said as part of an effort to regulate the killing, she wants to review proposals to create something similar to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court — which reviews requests for wiretaps against suspected foreign agents — for drone strikes.

Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, is pushing the idea the hardest.

According to his vision, the drone court would be an avenue for U.S. officials to argue in secret before a judge why an American citizen should be targeted for death. He said it would be like “going to a court for a warrant” and proving probable cause.

King said, “If you’re planning a strike over a matter of days, weeks or months, there is an opportunity to at least go to some outside-of-the-Executive Branch body like the FISA court in a confidential and top-secret way — make the case that this American citizen is an enemy combatant.”

Forgive me, but what business does the United States Senate, a part of the Legislative Branch, have to do with establishing itself as a member of the Judicial Branch? Do any of these people on Capitol Hill understand their place? Do any of them have any idea what they are supposed to be doing and not doing?

Jonathan Turley, professor at George Washington University said congressional action is “clearly unwarranted.”

“President Obama has become the president that Richard Nixon always wanted to be. In the face of an imperial president, it is Congress’ duty under the Constitution to do whatever it can to check such an abuse of power,” he wrote in an email.

Turley then clarified exactly what I was getting at above when he wrote that a new court would make “”legitimate the claim of inherent authority by the president to kill citizens without charge or judicial review.”

“A formal process, even if accepted by the White House, could be viewed as a concession that such power exists,” he wrote. “It would be a lethal version of FISA where constitutional provisions are set aside in favor of a largely meaningless process of review.”

While there is no doubt that the office of the President of the United States also takes on the role of Commander-in-chief and with that the ability during war to call the shots, the targeting of Americans for assassination is wrong.

King right says, “I understand you can’t have co-commanders in chief, but having the executive being the … prosecutor, the judge, the jury and the executioner all in one is very contrary to the traditions and the laws of this country.” However, it is a dangerous precedent to set by legitimizing Obama’s actions in this manner and do you really think you are going to get him to go along with it? I’m not going to hold my breath on that one.

Wendy Kamner, writing for The Atlantic pens:

The FISA court has a record of granting virtually all surveillance applications. A TAP court would probably prove equally obedient. Even if its judges wanted to provide due process, they’d be practically incapable of doing so. An alleged or allegedly aspiring terrorist targeted for killing would never appear before them or be afforded any meaningful representation in absentia.

What’s the alternative to a rubber stamp (or velvet glove) court? Political pressure, and perhaps the willingness of the federal judiciary to accept after-the-fact challenges to the legality of targeted killings. Maybe a court reviewing an assassination would find that, under the circumstances, it was a necessary and legitimate executive action. Maybe not. But at least a judicial finding that a killing was justified would follow an adversarial proceeding based on a particular set of facts.

She then went on to draw the conclusion we all are thinking and screaming at our computer monitor now:

Are targeted killings, like the torture of terror suspects, reactive “improvisations” necessitated by “unpredictable” events? Administration officials would answer “no.” They characterize the killings as proactive deterrents to predictable events. They want us to trust them to make accurate predictions that particular people are planning particular attacks, although their broad definition of imminence doesn’t seem to require very particular evidence to back up their predictions. In fact, they appear to be improvising based on a fear of not accurately anticipating attacks.

That fear is understandable, but it’s not a fact that supports a claim of imminence or necessity. The president advances a right of preemptive self-defense to kill Americans. In essence, he argues that he and his appointees have inherent power to stand their ground in the face of perceived threats. He wants us to trust him to perceive “imminent” threats accurately and to act against them without harming innocent people. “Trust us,” the Administration would whisper to a special assassinations court, and, in this case, it’s not hard to predict the court’s reply.

These are dangerous times, almost Orwellian. When did you think that in the United States of America there would be open talk of assassination and further yet, that members of Congress would be going along with it?

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