Tuesday, May 09, 2006
The invaluable Dana Priest has an article in today's Wasington Post, "Experts See a Strategy Behind CIA Shuffle: General May Help Intelligence Chief Rein In Rumsfeld and His Military Spy Plans."
since surely the US would not tolerate a President who would even think of turning us into an up-market version of Argentina, Chile, and El Salvador and their own domestic "disappearances" and "death squads."
Alas, I think that a majority of Americans would approve of "killing terrorists in foreign countries," which is how it would be framed. Cf. the remarkably successful Republican spin on the NSA's spying on American citizens within the U.S.
’I hope that this is simply a paranoid posting, […]’
Anybody heard of one John Yoo? Anybody think that his memos at the Department of Justice have any connection with what happened/happens at Abu Graib, Guantanamo and the whole “unitary executive” doctrine that presides these days?
If you’ve answered affirmatively to both questions, please recall what was said in this September 12, 2005, Wall Street Journal front-page piece (“Young Lawyer proposes assassinating more suspected terrorists”):
‘Some of those memos have become public, but not all of them. Asked after his AEI talk whether there is a classified Justice Department opinion justifying assassinations, Mr. Yoo hinted that he'd written one himself. "You would think they — the administration — would have had an opinion about it, given all the other opinions, wouldn't you?" he said, adding, "And you know who would have done the work."
The *theory* is summarized by its author in a September 18, 2005 San Francisco Chronicle op-ed (“Assassination or war?”):
Prof. Levinson, I hate to say this but, I’m afraid that your posting isn’t paranoid.
You raise valid points. There is though a much more likely explanation (spin?). If America knows that in Iran close the Iran/Iraq border, there are IED manufacturors who build their weapons, drive over the Iran/Iraq border to deliver them, then drive back to the safe haven of Iran. Would it not be appropriate to send in a special forces team to kill them?
I believe that is the main thrust of that line from the Post's article. Granted, that line from the article is ambiguous and could be used as support for your position, but you do think you are needlessly overreacting (at least in this case).
1. The Federal Government is empowered to repress domestic rebellions.
2. Assassination of enemy military leaders is permitted under the laws of war.
3. The President is commander in chief of the Armed Forces in time of war
4. Under the Constitution, the President is empowered to order the assassination of rebel leaders in the event of civil war.
Nor is tehre any US law forbidding the Uuse of assassuination by US military forces in furtherance of their lawful military objectives. There is the Ford executive order forbidding the US government from engaging in assassination, but presumably a specific order from a subsequent President would supersede the Ford order.
So the bottom line: could death squads be used lawfully against domestic enemies of the government? Of course? Have they been so used? Since as far as I know the fate of some of the captured German WWII sabateurs has never been released (somethign I just learned from Nachester's 1970's US history), it is not unlikely.
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