They Just Want Us To Trust Them And Not Ask Any Annoying Questions
This exchange between White House Press Secretary Jay Carney and ABC’s Jake Tapper lays out pretty starkly the Administration’s position on the President’s authority to order assassinations of American citizens without due process of law:
There’s something fundamentally wrong here, I think. Even if you accept the idea that al-Awlaki was, in the end, an acceptable target, the idea that a President can make this kind of determination without having to justify it flies in the face of the entire idea that we live under a government of limited powers. The Administration’s position is that the American people just need to trust that they’re doing the right thing, but it’s precisely when the government starts saying that when you need to make them prove their case.
Glenn Greenwald gets it exactly right when he says:
That is the mindset of the U.S. Government and its followers expressed as vividly as can be: we can spy on, imprison, or even kill anyone we want — including citizens — without any due process or any evidence shown, simply because we will tell you they are Bad People, and you will trust us and believe us. That was absolutely the principal justification offered by Bush followers for everything their Leader did — I know they’re Terrorists because My President said so, so no courts or evidence is required – and that is now exactly the mindset of Obama loyalists to justify what he does (back in December, 2005, I described that defense as the ”Very Bad People” justification for lawless, due-process-free acts).
That mentality — he’s a Terrorist because my Government said he’s one and I therefore don’t need evidence or trials to subject that evidence to scrutiny — also happens to be the purest definition of an authoritarian mentality, the exact opposite of the dynamic that was supposed drive how the country functioned (Thomas Jefferson: “In questions of power, let no more be heard of confidence in men, but bind him down from mischief with the chains of the Constitution“). I trust My President and don’t need to see evidence or have due process is the slavish mentality against which Jefferson warned; it’s also one of the most pervasive ones in much of the American citizenry, which explains a lot.
This kind of blind faith in government is precisely what gets us into trouble time and again. The Bush Administration should have been forced to justify its actions, but it wasn’t. The Obama Administration should be forced to justify its actions, and it won’t be.
H/T: Robert Murphy