The ACLU Demands “Killing Warrants”

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When I first proposed the idea of a “torture warrant,” many civil libertarians were appalled.  Some thought that I actually favored torture—which I don’t.  Others thought that requiring a warrant would legitimate an unlawful and illegitimate practice.  My point was a simple one:  Although I personally oppose the use of torture on moral grounds, I know that it will be used by every democracy facing ticking bomb terrorist situations.  That is simply a fact, which history clearly confirms.  No democratic leader would want to be responsible for failing to prevent the deaths of hundreds or thousands of his or her citizens, if the only way of doing so required the use of nonlethal torture that might lead authorities to the ticking bomb terrorist.  Since torture would in fact be used in such a situation, my proposal was designed to ensure that there would be accountability for its use and visibility, so that the public could judge whether its use was warranted in a particular situation.

Now the American Civil Liberties Union is making a similar point in relation to the targeted killing of an American citizen in Yemen.  That citizen’s name is Anwar Al-Aulaqui.  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.  But he won’t be captured, because, like Osama Bin Laden, he is being protected by groups and perhaps nations that seek to do us harm.  There are only two realistic alternatives:  to allow him to remain free to continue to plan terrorist attacks against American citizens; or to target him as a combatant.  The Obama administration has chosen the latter course.

The ACLU has now brought a lawsuit on behalf of Al-Aulaqui’s father demanding that before Al-Aulaqui can be targeted for military action, the government must “disclose the criteria that are used in determining whether the government will carry out the targeted killing of a US citizen.”  It is also demanding that the government present evidence of “concrete, specific and imminent threats to life or physical safety, and there are no means, other than legal force, that could reasonably be employed to neutralize the threats.”

Think about this!  What the ACLU is now seeking is, in effect, a “killing warrant.”  It is demanding, as a precondition to targeted killing, essentially the same mechanism that I have sought as a precondition to the imposition of nonlethal torture.  Killing an American citizen is, of course, a more serious sanction than inflicting nonlethal torture on a non-American citizen.  To be sure, torture is illegal under both domestic American law and international law, whereas the killing of combatants is lawful, at least under certain circumstances.  The ACLU wants to be sure that these circumstances exist before Al-Aulaqui is targeted for killing.

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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.