Holder to Americans: We Can Kill You Without Trial

Attorney General Eric Holder recently gave a speech in which he said the U.S. military can execute American citizens without trial, because “‘[d]ue process’ and ‘judicial process’ are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security.” Holder added, “[t]he Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process.”

Holder additionally said, “The Constitution’s guarantee of due process is ironclad, and it is essential – but, as a recent court decision makes clear, it does not require judicial approval before the President may use force abroad against a senior operational leader of a foreign terrorist organization with which the United States is at war – even if that individual happens to be a U.S. citizen.”

The Attorney General laid out the conditions that allow for an execution without trial:

“First, the U.S. government has determined, after a thorough and careful review, that the individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States; second, capture is not feasible; and third, the operation would be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles.”

The first two criteria assume the target is, in fact, guilty and relies solely on the input of the Executive Branch, without judicial or Congressional oversight, and it is impossible for the operation to be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable laws of war. Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention says that willful killing and willfully depriving a person of the rights of fair and regular trial are grave breaches of the Convention and thus war crimes.

Holder does not explain how due process is ensured absent the use of a judicial court. To put it another way: How can anyone defend themselves against accusations of being a terrorist without the ability to face their accusers in court?

  1. Targeted assassination is largely a counterproductive policy that has been debunked with solid evidence (unless the goal is to increase terrorism, which wouldn’t surprise me).

    In one example, assassinations of leaders in Iraq actually led to more IEDs in the same areas and will likely lead to similar results on U.S. soil if adopted fully:

    So, now that assassination is an official tool of U.S. foreign policy, along with trade embargoes and overseas aid, it is surely time for an open debate on whether it is indeed effective. Surprisingly for some, evidence based on hard numbers demonstrates unequivocally that the answer is No.

    The numbers are derived from a study conducted in Iraq during the “surge” campaign of 2007-08 that enabled the U.S. to declare victory and wind down the war. Key to the surge was an intensive and ruthless hunt for key individuals in the “IED networks” that were organizing homemade bomb attacks against U.S. troops. Cause and effect — more dead network leaders leading to fewer bombs — seemed so self-evidently obvious that nobody bothered to check.

    Early in 2008, however, Rex Rivolo, an analyst at the Counter-IED Operations/Intelligence Center attached to U.S. headquarters in Baghdad, briefed his superiors on some hard realities of the campaign. With access to any and all information relating to U.S military operations in Iraq, he had identified about 200 successful missions in which key IED network individuals had been eliminated. Then he looked at the reports of subsequent bomb attacks in the late insurgent leader’s area of operation. The results were clear: IED attacks went up, immediately and sharply. One week after the hit, on average, incidents within about three miles of the dead leader’s home base had risen 20 per cent.

    Again, increases in violent activity being the outcome, and this is publicly available data (I assume Holder is aware of it). Draw your own conclusions on the implications.

    source: http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/11/04/assassination-blowback/

  2. United States president Barack ObamaBarack Obama said, while running for president in 2007, he would support the death penalty for Osama bin Laden, for the Sep. 11, 2001 attacks.
    “The first thing I’d support is his capture, which is something this administration has proved incapable of achieving,” Obama said. “I would then, as president, order a trial that observed international standards of due process. At that point, do I think that somebody who killed 3,000 Americans qualifies as someone who has perpetrated heinous crimes, and would qualify for the death penalty. Then yes.”

  3. Al-Awlaki was killed for the same reason bin Laden and Hussein were–he knew too much.  Most people don’t realize he was the poster child for American and Muslim relations after 9/11.  He was a CIA asset and a frequent guest at the White House for several years before he turned on us.   

  4. We can all agree Holder is a first class Moron…..In fact the idiot who conjured up this abomination called law is in the same category as Holder….Moron.  Now read this statement carefully:  “The President may use force abroad against a senior operational leader of a foreign terrorist organization with which the United States is at war – even if that individual happens to be a U.S. citizen.” If a U. S. Citizen is leading a terrorist organization against the United States he isn’t a U. S. Citizen. He lost his rights as a citizen when he turned a weapon on his country. Now he’s an enemy combatant. Shoot his ass!! That’s due process in a nutshell. He has the same rights as any other enemy of this great country…..The right to die for his country…….