The death rattle of American democracy

From The World Socialist Web Site:

Joseph Kishore
7 February 2013

The Obama administration’s recently-leaked “white paper” on the assassination of US citizens, and the actions carried out on the basis of the arguments it advances, must be taken as a dire warning to the working class in the United States and around the world. The democratic rights of the people are in grave peril. The American ruling class, steeped in lawlessness and violence, is moving toward dictatorship.

The administration’s frontal assault on democratic rights and constitutional protections—asserting the “right” of the president to unilaterally and secretly order the state murder of American citizens—is undeniably grounds for impeachment. The crimes of Richard Nixon, who nearly 40 years ago resigned the presidency rather than face impeachment and removal from office, pale in comparison to Obama’s assertion of unconstrained executive powers.

The pseudo-legal arguments of the Justice Department memo, recalling the Bush administration’s infamous torture memoranda, boil down to the following:

The president and the military-intelligence apparatus, based solely on their own internal deliberations, have the power to assassinate any US citizen who they decide is a leading member of Al Qaeda or its “associated forces.” This power has no geographic boundaries. Nor can it be limited by any form of congressional or judicial oversight. The White House and its military/intelligence advisers are judge, jury and executioner.

The entire document is an exercise in doubletalk and sophistry. While it asserts, for example, that those selected for elimination have to pose an “imminent threat of violent attack,” it proceeds to define “imminent” to mean its opposite. The government needs no proof that any specific action is planned or that something is to take place in the immediate future.

In the end, nothing remains of core democratic rights. The principle of due process—with roots going back to the 13th Century and enshrined in the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution’s assertion that no individual can be “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”—is dispensed with.

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