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House Dems Attack President Obama's Extrajudicial Assassination Powers

Finally, a coalition of Democrats are asking about the authorities under which the president has granted himself the power to secretly target Americans for assassination.

Photo illustration of a US Predator in Afghanistan. The US media has turned a spotlight on itself after three news organizations admitted keeping the location of a drone base in Saudi Arabia secret at the request of the US administration.

Since the participation of Rand Paul in the civil liberties debate seems to make it doubly controversial and more difficult than it already is, perhaps the liberal base, at least, will be persuaded by the stalwart progressive House Democrats who sent this letter to President Obama today

Here's the crux of their issue:



Unlike everyone else they seem to have managed to see the forest for the trees on this and aren't obsessing of the use of drones, as if that's the real problem* with all this. They are asking about the authorities under which the president has granted himself the power to secretly target Americans for assassination. 

It's signed by Lee, Ellison, Conyers, Grijalva, Edwards and Honda. Not a libertarian or right winger anywhere to be found. And as Emptywheel points out there are others as well, like Dianne Feinstein and Susan Collins, Jerry Nadler and Pat Leahy among others. This is beyond ideology or partisanship. Or at least it should be.

*Yes, drones present problems for modern warfare for a number of reasons, which we've discussed before. But this is about something more than the technological capability. It's about whether the president has the constitutional or statutory authority to carry out a covert assassination program against American citizens on the new "global battlefield." (And again, that's not to say that carrying out such a program against non-citizens is moral or legal either, but it's a different set of rules and norms.)

Digby is the proprietor of Hullabaloo.
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