The ACLU Demands “Killing Warrants”


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The ACLU is not clear as to whether it believes that the targeted killing of an American citizen in a non-war zone is legal.  Requiring a warrant as a precondition for such targeting would help frame that important issue for litigation and ultimate resolution by the Supreme Court or some international tribunal.  That is the virtue of a warrant requirement.

Although it is crystal clear that certain forms of torture are prohibited by law, it is not clear whether other extreme measures—including psychological pressures, physical discomfort and other tactics shorts of the infliction of physical pain—are always unlawful, even if deemed necessary to prevent ticking bomb terrorists from killing multiple victims.  The Supreme Court has left that issue open in cases such as Chavez v. Martinez (2003).  In the leading case on this issue, Leon v. Wainwright (1984), the 11th Circuit ruled that moderate physical torture—twisting the suspects arm behind his back and choking him until he disclosed the whereabouts of a kidnap victim—was not always a violation of the law.  This is what the judges said:  This was not an act of law enforcement agents “trying to obtain a confession.  This was instead of group of concerned officers acting in a reasonable manner to obtain information they needed in order to protect another individual from bodily harm or death.”  It was “motivated by the immediate necessity to find the victim and save his life.” If an appellate court would so regard the use of such “torture lite” in a case involving one kidnap victim, it is certainly possible that courts would approve of comparable measures in a situation in which hundreds of lives might hang in the balance.

The virtue of a “torture warrant,” like that of a “killing warrant,” is that it requires articulation of standards, visibility of actions and ultimate approval by democratic institutions.  The ACLU seems to understand this when it comes to “killing warrants.”  It should understand that when it comes to the inevitable use of torture in ticking bomb situations, there is also a virtue in visibility and accountability.

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  • jenny

    Why is it that leftists never need treason warrants?

    • Jimmy Cracker

      Why is it treasonous right wingers always assume they own the Constitution?

  • scum

    Correction: Dershowitz DOES favor torture. He has specifically said that he favors torture under certain circumstances. For every regime in the history of the world, that has been the justification for torture. The more one studies the Inquisition, the more similar it is to the CIA program.

  • Jimmiet

    I'm sure that if abortions can be found in the Constitution the ACLU will have no problem with assassination.

  • Morrismajor

    Killing warrants? We are slipping. Ironically the people who babble the most about "big government oppression" are the most ok with this.

  • Nondhimmicrat

    I expect Mr Baldwin's thinking at the time he started the Anti Christian Liberals Union, was
    a reaction against the seeming hoplessness of poorer people ever having opportunity
    to rise above their misery The members who still advocate totalitarian socialism do so because it gets them invited to lots of cool people's cocktail parties and
    helps those in academia to be able to date students even into their 80s. They believe islam will help them destroy Christianity then all the muslims will go back to their countrys and the Illiberals will be able to establish paradise here. Afrter all, it's never really been tried.

  • beezeebeez

    Call it a FATWAH

  • Reason_For_Life

    "He is undoubtedly a combatant who has declared war against the United States and would be subject to prosecution and execution for treason if he were to be captured. "

    Fine, then try him in absentia before a normal jury. If the jury finds him guilty then sentence him to die. That way it isn't an assassination, it's an execution.

    Will the evidence be sufficient to stand up in a court of law? There's only one way to find out.

    • Tom

      Sorry, in abstentia trials are prohibited by the Constitution, because it provides that the accused must be present to confront his witnesses. Just because other countries can do it doesn't mean we can.

      We are at war. He is a legitimate target. He can be killed by our military as such. Simple. This article is baloney.

  • Rifleman

    This nonsense is the result of blurring the lines of treason and illegal combatants to accommodate the commies’ use of fifth columnists, illegal combatants, and terror against the West in the last half of the 20th Century. Both of the latter and especially the last (being even lower than spies in the eyes of the law) traditionally give up legal niceties by the use of their tactics.

    When people who employ terror bring certain and swift catastrophic consequences for themselves and their cause, far fewer will be willing to employ it or tolerate those who do. It’s not rocket surgery, and it’s nothing new.

  • J.S.

    I think the comment "call it a Fatwa!" is hilarious (but, also, alas, accurate). A torture warrant, along with a "death or killing warrant" is abhorrent. (I can just imagine scenarios in which the "killing warrant" goes awry — ie, the CIA manage to kill the wrong people overseas — then what? More multi-million dollar lawsuits? yeah, or yet another "make work project" for lawyers in war zones — pftt — just what we don't need.)

  • Dobermite

    I know this is off topic, but I have to get this off my chest …

    I support Israel first because its the right thing to do, second because they are loyal allies, third because we share a common (evil) enemy (homicidal maniacs to the core), and forth because of American Jews like David Horowitz, Pam Gellar, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved, etc.

    These are some of my primary reasons for supporting Israel despite vicious Christian haters like Alan Dershowitz who has spent a lifetime demonizing Christians and promoting animosity between Christians and Jews.

    I'm not Vivian Schiller and I'm not about to suggest Dershowitz should not be publihsed at Frontpage, but I just want David to know that our Christian/Jewish alliance in the war on terror and elsewhere survives (and thrives) despite haters like Dershowitz.

    Short of the heartfelt apology he owes Christians for a lifetime of demonizing them, there is nothing this man has to say that I am remotely interested in hearing or reading.

  • Malcolm

    There would appear to be a simple solution: Mr Awlaki could give himself up. He would then receive all due process of law. Probably the ACLU would be happy to represent him.

  • Tom

    These ideas are crazy and unconstitutional. "No one may be deprived of life..without due process of law". There is only one legal exception and that is WAR. And, we are in a WAR right now! This crap is pushed by people who either don't want it to be a war [sorry folks, you are deluded] or who want war legally redefined to shackle the executive branch with unconstitutional judicial restraints.

  • Tom

    Aren't you saying that Congress can pass Bills of Attainder? Doesn't the Constitution state otherwise? How am I wrong?

    • Philosopherking

      "To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water"

      I believe this is the war powers that the federal government has. I assume letters of marque and reprisal is something like death warrants but I am guessing on this. I can't find any original sources backing me up.

      • Tom

        I figured you were going there ;-)

        Letters of Marque and Reprisal empower private citizens to own military equipment (anything not covered by the 2nd Amendment) and to use them in military operations as defined by the issued Letters. Still might not be a bad idea in some circumstances.

        However, I'm pretty sure that no such Letters have ever identified a particular individual as a target of such Letters. The Founders would have backed away from the idea – it has too much taint of the Bill of Attainder that was so hated by them.

        It IS interesting to contrast these ideas between the legal philosophies of today and two centuries ago. Back then Congress would have issued Letters of Marque and Reprisal to make war on terrorists, with no need to specify the fates of particular individuals, thus trusting in the good judgement of U.S. citizens. Today we invent new legal monstrosities because we cannot bring ourselves to trust anyone in our own country, from any President on down to the average air traveller or gun owner. How sad.

        • Philosopherking

          That sounds like a pretty good idea that should be used today for going after terrorist. We make a list and private citizens kill them. I would trust private citizens to the federal government because private citizens would be operating under the law which is more than what I can say for our own government.

  • CAROLE63

    I, for one, wouldn`t lose any sleep over his assassination!
    He is setting himself at war with the West and inciting others to do the same, therefore he is a legitimate target!

  • ALVINDCHIPMUNK

    ISSUE A KILLING WARRANT FOR THE ACLU. I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHY WE ARE TERRORIZED BE THESE PERVERTS. i F WE ARE AT WAR THEN kill THE ENEMY FOREIGN OR DOMESTIC.