Reddhedd at Firedoglake has a bit a problem with this revelation (as do I).
Steven Bradbury, acting head of the department's Office of Legal Counsel, went to a closed-door Senate intelligence committee meeting last week to defend President George W. Bush's surveillance program. During the briefing, said administration and Capitol Hill officials (who declined to be identified because the session was private), California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein asked Bradbury questions about the extent of presidential powers to fight Al Qaeda; could Bush, for instance, order the killing of a Qaeda suspect known to be on U.S. soil? Bradbury replied that he believed Bush could indeed do this, at least in certain circumstances.
Interesting. Does that include assassinating US citizens -- without a trial, without properly ascertaining whether or not they are innocent or guilty, without anything other than the say of the Preznit? Do you trust this Administration to make these sorts of choices without messing up?Apparently the answer to that is "Yes". Now to be fair, I can somewhat understand this as being reasonable under the "ticking time bomb" scenario, just as people can and often are shot, wounded and killed by police in the normal course of their duties - particularly if they're holding hostages or have the finger on the trigger. Police on U.S. streets don't usually put a HIT out on someone, sneak up on them in the middle of the night and take them out with a filet knife.
Would you bet your life on it?
Sure, there are options for dealing with suspects who pose an immediate physical threat -- say holding controls for an explosive device or an AK-47 in a crowded shopping mall. But a Presidential ordered assassination without any particular showing of exigent circumstances and immediate need? That's a Constitution of a different color altogether.
Given what has happened with Jose Padilla, is anything truly beyond imagination from this Administration in terms of trampling on liberty without any adequate oversight or notification? Who would stop them if they were about to kill an innocent citizen -- and who would call them on it, even if they did?
Jeff Sessions (R-AL) said on today's Face the Nation that "[w]hen you authorize our military to use force, they can kill the enemy without a Miranda warning." Well, that may be true on the battlefield -- but what about on the streets of the United States?
Oh, and did I mention that Assasinations are illegal [although President Clinton had a standing order to haveing Osama Bin Laden killed in Afghanistan, and made several attempts to do so].
Here's another one for Diane Feinsteins list of "If the President can do this, what else can he do?"