Friday, October 07, 2011

An actual death panel

The committee meets in secret, and keeps no records. It operates by no fixed rules, only a mandate: decide which citizens outside the country are enemies of the state. When they make such a decision, the President is informed, and if he agrees, the victim is targeted for assassination.

No, its not the Soviet Union, or some totalitarian dystopia. It's the United States of America under Barack Obama:

American militants like Anwar al-Awlaki are placed on a kill or capture list by a secretive panel of senior government officials, which then informs the president of its decisions, according to officials.

There is no public record of the operations or decisions of the panel, which is a subset of the White House's National Security Council, several current and former officials said. Neither is there any law establishing its existence or setting out the rules by which it is supposed to operate.

The panel was behind the decision to add Awlaki, a U.S.-born militant preacher with alleged al Qaeda connections, to the target list. He was killed by a CIA drone strike in Yemen late last month.

This is, of course, completely unconstitutional - the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution prohibits individuals from being "deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law". Which is presumably why they don't keep records - they would be evidence of conspiracy to murder.

Sadly, this being the modern US, the chances of anyone being held to account for this are around zero. In the US, laws apply to poor black people, not to presidents and their cronies. We saw that with Bush and his torturers, and we will see it with Obama and his assassination squad.