What the Drone Memo Means
By R. Tamara de Silva
February 7, 2013
[W]e are heirs to a tradition given voice 800 years ago by Magna Carta, which, on the barons’ insistence, confined executive power by “the law of the land.” Justice Souter and Justice Ginsburg, Hamdi v.
Rumsfeld 542 U.S. 507 (2004)
On February 5, 2013, a Department of Justice memo (“Drone Memo”) was released to NBC justifying the President’s killing of Americans by lethal force, such as by drones. The targeted killing of Americans as justified in this memo gives the Executive Branch a power over American lives that is at once unprecedented and terrifying in scope. The idea of a government unilaterally assassinating its citizenry is fundamentally at war with America’s Constitutional legacy,
which was established with separate and equal branches of power specifically to limit the possibility of an abuse of government power or outright tyranny. The issues presented in the memo have Constitutional implications that cease due process rights based upon what may be unsubstantiated accusations and go against traditions of justice dating back to the Magna Carta. Americans need to understand what is at stake.
The Drone Memo justifies the assassination of Americans by the Executive Branch based on the equating of terror (a term and concept that is not defined in the memo) with war and making Americans into enemy combatants without any due process of legal proceedings for actions and associations that are similarly ill-defined. This memo does outline an enlargement of Executive power over due process that is without historical precedent in American history.
It bears note, that the Drone Memo asserts for the first time in American history, the power of a President to assassinate Americans, unchecked and unanswerable to anyone, including the Judiciary and the Legislature. Continue reading