U.S. Relies On Law from Governments Which Don’t Even HAVE a Constitution to Justify Assassination of U.S. Citizens By Drone

U.S. Relies On Law of Non-Constitutional Countries

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says:

No person shall … be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law ….

So how did the legal memorandum “justifying” assassination of U.S. citizens by drone try to sidestep the Fifth Amendment?

It relied on reasoning from two countries that don’t have any constitution.

The New York Times reports:

One might have expected a thoughtful memo that carefully weighed the pros and cons and discussed how such a strike accords with international and Constitutional law.

Instead, the memo turns out to be a slapdash pastiche of legal theories — some based on obscure interpretations of British and Israeli law — that was clearly tailored to the desired result. Perhaps the administration held out so long to avoid exposing the thin foundation on which it based such a momentous decision.

Neither England nor Israel have a constitution.

Indeed, as the BBC notes, they are in a very small group of three:

In all but a handful of democracies in the world, the nation’s constitution can be found in a single document. The exceptions are Israel, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Nothing in the memo says that it only applies to U.S. citizens living abroad. Indeed, the government has claimed the right to assassinate or indefinitely detain any American citizen on U.S. citizen without any due process. And see this.

And – contrary to misleading statements to the contrary – the U.S. has never said that it won’t assassinate Americans living on U.S. soil.

Sadly, even though Americans have a constitution, we have lost virtually all of the rights contained in that document.

Postscript: While this article focuses on U.S. citizens,  assassinating non-citizens by drone has problems as well:

This entry was posted in Politics / World News. Bookmark the permalink.
  • Edwin Vieira

    Try to use the sharp end of the stick. The correct starting point for discussion of the unconstitutionality of the “official assassinations” program is the absolute prohibition on “bills of attainder”–which, of course, is part of “due process of law” (in the negative sense of a governmental disability).

    • not authorized

      Go deeper.

      Interesting. I thought the Uniform Code of Military Justice (Title 10 USC 801 / Title 10 USC Chapter 47) for our military applied… everywhere? It seems the writer of that memo forgot something.

      This chapter applies in all places.

      So much for the “other law” excuse.

      What is manslaughter, and murder?


      (a) Any person subject to this chapter who, with an intent to kill or inflict great bodily harm, unlawfully kills a human being in the heat of sudden passion caused by adequate provocation is guilty of voluntary manslaughter and shall be punished as a court- martial may direct.

      (b) Any person subject to this chapter who, without an intent to kill or inflict great bodily harm, unlawfully kills a human being–

      (1) by culpable negligence; or

      (2) while perpetrating or attempting to perpetrate an offense, other than those named in clause (4) of section 918 of this title (article 118), directly affecting the person;

      is guilty of involuntary manslaughter and shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

      918. ARTICLE 118. MURDER

      Any person subject to this chapter whom without justification or excuse, unlawfully kills a human being, when he- –

      (1) has a premeditated design to kill;

      (2) intends to kill or inflict great bodily harm;

      (3) is engaged in an act which is inherently dangerous to others and evinces a wanton disregard of human life; or

      (4) is engaged in the perpetration or attempted perpetration of burglary, sodomy, rape, robbery, or aggravated arson;

      is guilty of murder, and shall suffer such punishment as a court-martial may direct, except that if found guilty under clause (1) or (4), he shall suffer death or imprisonment for life as a court-martial may direct.

      We need court marshals and civil trials.

      • Edwin Vieira

        That analysis is less deep than it should be. The Uniform Code of Military Justice is only a statute. The UCMJ arises from the constitutional power of Congress “[t]o make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces” (art. I, sec. 8, cl. 14). That power is limited by the absolute constitutional disability that “No Bill of Attainder * * * shall be passed” (art. I, sec. 9, cl. 3). So of course the UCMJ does not provide for “official assassinations”. If it did it would be unconstitutional in that particular. The important point is that, insofar as the President’s authority to give orders to the Armed Forces can extend no further than the “Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces” which Congress promulgates, and insofar as those “Rules” cannot authorize or condone a “Bill of Attainder”, no possible legal theory allows for the Armed Forces to carry out assassinations from a “hit list” (the modern term for a “Bill of Attainder”) against anyone, even when the President himself orders or supervises such action.

        • not authorized

          Edwin, you missed the point. I am not talking about Bills of Attainder. It is a Statute that applies everywhere for anyone in the armed services. It is codified, under our legal code, under Title 10.

          The entire program is unlawful. The memo itself was in error.

          • Edwin Vieira

            The point I am trying to put across is that all “hit lists” for “official assassinations” are unconstitutional under Article I, Section 9, Clause 3, even if some purported “statute”, “executive order”, or military command supposedly authorizes them. And other nations’ laws–of course–do not override the Constitution. I should think that an absolute constitutional prohibition on these ‘hit lists” would be a stronger argument than some statute, especially when the constitutional prohibition applies to everyone, whether military or civilian.

          • not authorized

            I agree Edwin. Clearly we have the same mindset.

            Treason is hard to get a conviction on. But murder and manslaughter…. not so much.