Saturday, April 5, 2014

YES WE CAN—Kill Whomever, Whenever We Choose

      Friday’s court decision in federal court by Judge Rosemary Collyer sends a chilling message to ordinary citizens of the United States. At issue was the rights of American citizens to due process and civil liberties under the First, Fourth and Fifth amendments. The judge tasked with defending the concept of the rights of the citizen against the rights of the state fell back and punted.
     Citing that “The same reasoning applies here. The powers granted to the Executive and Congress to wage war and provide for national security does not give them carte blanche to deprive a U.S. citizen of his life without due process and without any judicial review.” And “Plaintiffs further admit the inapplicability of Fourth Amendment principles by asserting that the United States killed the three men with missiles from unmanned drones. Unmanned drones are functionally incapable of “seizing” a person; they are designed to kill, not capture. As the decedents were not “seized,” Plaintiffs have not stated a Fourth Amendment claim.” and “The Constitution does not guarantee due care on the part of state officials; liability for negligently inflicted harm is categorically beneath the threshold of constitutional due process.” On the matter of Abdulrahman Alawki, Judge Collyer basically said that if the US government kills you in the attempt to wage its “war on terror” then they are not responsible for their accidents. The lawsuit was brought by the father of Anwar Alawki, who while admittedly becoming a citizen “at odds and arms against the US Government” was otherwise in no way charged with any crime, but due to his role as Al Qaeda propagandist (and even Osama Bin Laden didn’t take him as seriously in that as did Barack Obama, apparently) had been droned to death without charges or trial during the great “War on Terror” initiated by the Bush administration and carried on to this time by the Obama one. In my mind this case was less about that of Anwar (although having the ability to posthumously state one’s own Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights at law seems pretty tenuous) but more to do with the killing of his innocent son, who had no connection at all to the jihadi ideology of his father.
     It’s hard to wrap one’s head around this decision dismissing Mr. Nasser Alawki’s case. Here is a man who brought his grievance through the federal judicial system seeking justice for the “accidental” killing of his grandson. His personal faith in American justice was so laughably naive  that he actually thought the Constitution  provided him some means of redressing it. But instead, Judge Collyer worked diligently to find the legal loopholes through which the Executive branch could shove the drone that killed his grandson. And, apparently, now, going forward into the bleak police-state future, any citizen whom they should choose to place on their target list for secret “national security” reasons. Because “the courts are not the place” for this to be decided, but by Congress and the Executive”. Boy howdy, we all know what paragons of wisdom they all are, don’t we.
     This is Hitler-type justice at work, in my opinion. Now, any future president has the right though the use of secret accusations to disappear any citizen they choose, indefinitely detain them without course to law and access to legal remedy. The president has said you must die, and of course, with all the powers of the state at his command, the president will assure that you shall. We went from terrorists being criminals to legitimized warriors - subject to military law and not civil legal penalties- and Judge Collyer made it clear that the propagandized war on terror, rooted in fear and insecurity over the 9/11 attacks, will continue with the “battlefield” now extended to every inch of the globe, including the United States of America. Of course Mr. Obama didn’t want to kill young  Abdulrahman. He was “just doing his job”.
Actually, contrary to Ms. Collyer's opinion, there is an applicable section of US law that pertains to this case. This is sections 241 and 242 of the US Criminal Code which read:
US CODE 241 & 242
§ 241. Conspiracy against rights
If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any inhabitant of any State, Territory, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same; or If two or more persons go in disguise on the highway, or on the premises of another, with intent to prevent or hinder his free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege so secured - They shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results, they shall be subject to imprisonment for any term of years or for life.

§ 242. Deprivation of rights under color of law
Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any inhabitant of any State, Territory, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or to different punishments, pains, or penalties, on account of such inhabitant being an alien, or by reason of his color, or race, than are prescribed for the punishment of citizens, shall be fined not more than $1,000 or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if bodily injury results shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results shall be subject to imprisonment for any term of years or for life.
"For the purpose of Section 242, acts under "color of law" include acts not only done by federal, state, or local officials within the their lawful authority, but also acts done beyond the bounds of that official's lawful authority if the acts are done while the official is purporting to or pretending to act in the performance of his/her official duties,. Persons acting under color of law within the meaning of this statute include police officers, prisons guards and other law enforcement officials, as well as judges, care providers in public health facilities, and others who are acting as public officials. It is not necessary that the crime be motivated by animus toward the race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status or national origin of the victim.

     So Ms. Collyer felt herself incapable of judging these officials in a similar manner to the criteria used upon judgment of Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg. It’s not surprising, given the hubris of America’s leaders and appointed officials, at this time, that there should be a cringing from acceptance of any personal responsibility in this, and that the judiciary, which was actually our last hope against tyrannical powers assumed by the Presidency, could and would actually step in to uphold the rights of citizens. Nowhere in her decision does Ms. Collyer recognize the existence or relevance of this statute regarding ‘color of authority.’
     Never mind any attempt to actually arrest and bring to heel these criminals to our way of life, now, the expediency of a drone can conveniently discorporate them from a distance, and collateral damage- being the wrong person in the right place at the wrong time- can get you killed, and our leaders do not have to say “oops, sorry” any longer. They wouldn’t anyway, but that is beside the point. Once the slippery slope was defined to include Muslims or any other future out-group of Americans it can now be redefined by any US President under his “Commander in Chief” powers, subject to the decision. Your government is always right, and even with the judge herself saying it “raised serious constitutional questions” she decided she was not the person, and “the courts are not the place,”  for making the judgment in favor of a citizen over the long arm of the state. It is a truly cowardly position for a judge to take, but she has taken it, and now the Executive branch can decide just who lives and who dies. And go scot free when they make “a mistake.” We’re living under an official military dictatorship now.  Madison and Jefferson must be tossing by turns and throwing fits from their graves.

yes, call us old-fashioned, but some of us still believe in due process and the rule of law:

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