The New York Times and Washington Post reported yesterday that the Obama administration has given the CIA authorization to kill an American citizen without trial or due process. Greenwald’s analysis of the assassination program is spot-on, so be sure to check that out. It’s a disturbing idea, that Obama has proclaimed he has the power to order US citizens to be killed far away from a battlefield, and without any chance to dispute the charges against them.
Yesterday, while reading about the civil rights riots of the 1960s, I came across a passage that hit a little too close to home.
Rick Perlstein, writing in Nixonland, describes the 1965 race riots in Cleveland in the following way (p.112):
The police chief was quoted calling for capital punishment “to keep the negroes in line.” Witnesses told the story of a judge who convicted civil rights demonstrators without a trial, proclaiming, “They are all guilty because I saw it on TV,” … of black applicants to the police force turned down if they belonged to civil rights groups. [emphasis added.]
The story of the odious judge speaks for itself, and it would be difficult to find a better description of the way the public has condemned suspected terrorists than, “they are guilty because I saw it on TV.” In many ways, that phrase encapulates the Bush-era understanding of justice that progressives so despised, and that Barack Obama is now continuing.
Regardless of whatever evidence the judge in the above passage had, no one would defend his behavior today. And he simply imprisoned subversives. Imagine if he had just wanted to kill civil rights activists because he knew they were guilty even without the bothersome procedure of a trial. That is exactly the understanding of justice Barack Obama has now codified.