Yikes. The Washington Post reports on a Justice Department document that lays out an incredibly broad and vague power for our government officials to order the killing of Americans abroad without any involvement of our court system. From the article (click here to read the whole thing):
The United States can lawfully kill a U.S. citizen overseas if it determines the target is a “senior, operational leader” of al-Qaeda or an associated group and poses an imminent threat to the United States, according to a Justice Department document published late Monday by NBC News.
The document defines “imminent threat” expansively, saying it does not have to be based on intelligence about a specific attack since such actions are being “continually” planned by al-Qaeda. “In this context,” it says, “imminence must incorporate considerations of the relevant window of opportunity” as well as possible collateral damage to civilians.
It says that such determinations can be made by an “informed, high-level official of the U.S. government.”
This is a frightening claim. "Informed, high level official"? "Poses and imminent threat"? "Relevant window of opportunity"? Vagueness expands power, and this document is about as vague as it gets. What an incredible testament to the political theory that executive power will continually seek to expand! President Obama came into office campaigning against the executive power abuses of President Bush. Not only has he not lived up to his promises to reverse some of the former President's expansions - he's claimed far more power.
I'm uncomfortable with this expansion as a conservative - given that the expansion is in the arena of civil liberties, I would think liberals would be absolutely apoplectic. The fact that they aren't calling for impeachment should come as a surprise. The reality that they rarely voice a whimper of opposition is pathetic.