The Justice Department Memo: Some Non-Hysterical Balance

Michael Tomasky:  …. I’ve now read the DoJ white paper that justifies the killing of US citizens. It’s certainly not something that makes the breast swell with pride. But it does make me wonder what I would do in this situation, and I can’t honestly come up with easy answers. While I don’t condone what the Obama administration is doing here, I’m also suspicious of high-horse denunciations, because I think the question of whether an American forfeits his due process rights when he joins an enemy army is a complicated one.

…. There’s no doubt that a sentence like “the president has the power to order the assassination of American citizens” sounds positively despotic. However, these are people who have gone off and joined Al Qaeda. If an American citizen of German descent had gone back to heimat Germany in 1934 and joined the Nazi Party and worked his way up such that he was involved in the plotting of attacks against American soldiers, and Roosevelt had order him killed, no one would have batted an eye in 1940s America…..

…  I’ve never been a hard-line civil libertarian. My civic-republican instincts cut against that, because I feel that citizenship confers not just rights but responsibilities….. There’s always the possibility of the case where we might find out too late, and a large number of Americans could die. Presidents live with that responsibility every day. If that responsibility were mine, I can’t honestly say what I’d do, and I don’t think anyone can.

Read the full post here

35 Responses to “The Justice Department Memo: Some Non-Hysterical Balance”

    • 2 carolmaewy
      February 6, 2013 at 1:03 pm

      Don’t go, you just got first! Congrats. I’m back to last thread and other things around the house. 🙂

      • 3 Pamella
        February 6, 2013 at 2:17 pm

        Amazing story, but it will have to wait! Am working today, home in the afternoon. Y’all be good okay! 😉

    • 4 Roberta in MN
      February 6, 2013 at 1:29 pm

      Congrats Pamela, you weren’t up there when I posted, so I got JER wrong, sorry. 2nd, will do.

  1. 5 JER
    February 6, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    Where’s everybody?

  2. 8 Roberta in MN
    February 6, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    Good Morning or should I say afternoon Chips and TOD family.

  3. February 6, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    Will just repeat what I posted late yesterday evening …

    #TrustBarack The World is not a nice place and people who align themselves with terrorist and plot to kill Americans are simply evil and have forfeited the rights millions have fought and died to defend.

    • 10 Roberta in MN
      February 6, 2013 at 1:32 pm

      Thanks Bob, I am really in a quandary about the shit storm this has a caused, shaking my head and wondering where are all of these people when you need them to actually make some sound judgements. The Cycle really got me pissed yesterday. Bash the President all day yesterday including Bashire, glad I don’t have cable anymore. Just using on line and that is enough for me. 🙂

      • 11 Virginia
        February 6, 2013 at 4:58 pm

        I think we are uncomfortable with this because we are always uncomfortable with war. But the difference for me in this case is that I trust the President to do the right thing. I don’t think he would do this frivolously or without deep thought and deliberation. The people that have been targetted must pose an imminent threat to this country, or they wouldn’t have been targetted.

        In fact, an American who is collaborating with a foreign, terrorist organization is MORE of a threat to us, because they grew up here. How do you think the 9/11 conspirators found out about American customs, how to get around in certain parts of the country, how to rent a car, how to use our credit cards, how to speak our language so as not to cause suspicion, what food to eat, and what clothes to wear so they BLEND IN in this country, etc. etc.

        They learn those things from AMERICANS.

        So, in my humble opinion, I think a turncoat American is FAR MORE dangerous to us than a newly arrived terrorist from the hills of Afghanistan, no matter how sophisticated their schooling was in their own country.

        For some reason I am reminded of an old movie, Stalag 17, when a Nazi who attended college in America was responsible for the deaths of several American soldiers in a prison camp before he was found out. He lived in the barracks with the U.S. prisoners and they had actually put him in charge of their security.

  4. 12 yardarm756
    February 6, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    Did I make top 10?

  5. 14 LB4Obama
    February 6, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    Rusty v Rove: What happens when an immovable asshole meets an unstoppable turd?

    Saw this on the comment thread over at MediaMatters for America. So true and too funny!

    Boehner vs. Rove = an intringent asshole meets intractable turd……….

    Depends upon which way the turd is moving. You either get explosive diarrhea, or forceful constipation.
    Neither is pleasant.

    That has to be post of the day, Imbecile! Thanks for the laugh!

  6. February 6, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    Really loved this article. To be honest, I expected Tomasky to be PL-ish on this, so it was refreshing to see him look at it from ‘both sides’.

    This says it all: “…. If that responsibility were mine, I can’t honestly say what I’d do, and I don’t think anyone can.”

    • 16 Eveingeorgia
      February 6, 2013 at 1:18 pm

      When I read this, I thought of you and SMARTYPANTS, Chips. Tomasky’s article is the most cogent reaction and analysis that I have read to date. I read one at either Balloon Juice or Booman’s that was similar in tone.

      The quote you referenced is how I imagine our President must struggle. It’s one hell of a decision to have to make. I imagine it’s a constant strain on his mind and heart, but the bottom line is protecting the American People. He’s going to do that to the best of his ability. Of that I am sure. It’s just that there is no exactly right way to do it.

      • February 6, 2013 at 1:42 pm

        Hiya Eve, that’s why I loved this post so much, someone on the left acknowledging what a horrible situation it is for a (decent) President to be in, something the PL couldn’t possibly understand:

        “….. There’s always the possibility of the case where we might find out too late, and a large number of Americans could die. Presidents live with that responsibility every day. If that responsibility were mine, I can’t honestly say what I’d do, and I don’t think anyone can.”

    • 18 COS
      February 6, 2013 at 1:24 pm

      Chips, thanks for posting this Tomasky article. I absolutely love Michael Tomasky. As my mother would say, he is always “level headed”. I was listening to Hal Sparks this morning on Stephanie Miller and I liked his explanation also.

  7. 20 LB4Obama
    February 6, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    OOPS! Did not mean to copy and post the entie comment section,only the first two. Chips, can you fix it? Sorry 😦

  8. 22 pugeretto
    February 6, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    Morning happy folks, just the normal lurking here. Thank you Chips/TODS for keeping this place going! Congrats Pamela & don’t work too hard. :-))

  9. 23 57andfemale
    February 6, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    ” My civic-republican instincts cut against that, because I feel that citizenship confers not just rights but responsibilities”

    That’s it. That’s the entire argument. That’s the argument for gun reform and a number of things.

  10. 24 57andfemale
    February 6, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    I have a question for members of the TOD family, who are far more sage than I am:

    Should we have a constitutional amendment for the right to vote? An 11th ‘right’ to the Bill of Rights.

    Part of the mischief in Bush v. Gore was that the evildoers could say it was nothing more than some kind of contract dispute (terminology may be wrong, as is my aging memory) with ‘harm’ being done to Bush if the votes were like, actually, counted.

    The mischief they’re cooking up now to keep Democrats from voting — God only knows.

    So should we try for a constitutional amendment — a right to vote. The spectre of RWNJ state houses voting against such an amendment would be hilarious.

  11. 25 Linda
    February 6, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    10yrs ago today, WaPo ran editorial on Colin Powell’s evidence at the UN. Headline: “IRREFUTABLE”

    Dave Weigel

    • 26 57andfemale
      February 6, 2013 at 1:50 pm

      None of them have no shame. They are all certifiable, and that includes Colin Powell. Sure, I’m thankful for his support of PBO, but he still won’t say that PBO’s policies are centric enough to please what used to be ‘moderate’ Republicans.

      John McCain should have resigned his Senate seat after the Klondike Barbie debacle, and instead he’s doubled down on teh crazy.

      No shame. Not one God damned one of them.

  12. 27 utaustinliberal
    February 6, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this Chips and thanks to Michael Tomasky for providing a clear minded take on the situation.

    War is not a joke. Drone strikes are no joke and yet the PL and emoprogs act like Pres. Obama and those in his administration sit down and pick out targets for shits and giggles. They don’t and the image being projected that they do is insulting. Drone strikes are done when we cannot send our men and women in uniform into extreme harms way. Drone strikes – as chilling as they are – are preferable than ending up with hundreds of dead soldiers whatever nationality they hail from. Drone strikes are not new. They’ve been around since 2007 and for the left to act like we are not at war is naive to say the least. War is not pretty and no one on the left has given a credible solid alternative to drone strikes.

    Tomasky points out that a president’s responsibilities are weighty and it reminded me of the memo provided to the Bush administration about the forthcoming the 9/11 attack. If something had been done to avert that before chaos and untold tragedy struck, we might be in a different place now. Alas, that’s not the case. The left sometimes likes to pretend that there aren’t depraved people out there who would kill thousands heck millions of innocent lives due to their warped beliefs and pretends that we just have to sit across a table from them and talk it out. In some cases, that might work but do they really expect a president sworn to protect his people to take that chance? If the drone program was retired and heaven forbid, another 9/11 was to occur, the left would be the first to raise hell and drag Pres. Obama’s character through the mud. They would eschew all their previous proclamations and paint him as weak, a traitor, and the enemy.

    When an individual, yes, even an American citizen consciously chooses to join a terrorist organization, move up the food chain, actively recruit and plot to brutally murder innocents like Al-Awlaki did, said citizen has in effect given up his/her rights. The left likes to pretend that if Al-Awlaki had been left alone, life would be hunky-dory, everyone could sit back and eat a donut and Al-Awlaki would just say “it’s all good everyone, I’m no longer a terrorist. I no longer want to blow the crap out of the United States.” That’s naive and simple minded thinking.

    Life isn’t always black and white and we might not all agree about all aspects of the drone program, but we sit back here innocent of the horrors Pres. Obama is briefed about everyday. We sit back here and could never comprehend how many potential 9/11’s he’s averted. We sit back here and are hopefully thankful that we have a president who does not waver in his commitment to keep us safe from harm.

    Thanks again for the post Chips. Great food for thought.

    • February 6, 2013 at 1:54 pm

      UT, so sorry, I just posted a heads up – if you’d like to bring your comment over to the new post please do, couldn’t agree more.

    • 29 57andfemale
      February 6, 2013 at 1:55 pm

      What upsets me is that we can’t have a civilized, honest debate on this. Emoprog heads exploding, everywhere.

      I am a little troubled by these guidelines, but the nonsense from people like Norman Goldman yesterday — that the People are entitled to see all of the evidence — is just absurd. Let’s destroy all of our intelligence apparatus and the ability to keep Americans safe, in order to preserve legal review for someone who has denied everything his country stands for, and joined an enemy?

      I find the guidelines too vague for my taste but I so appreciate Tomasky today — giving voice to the reasoned debate we should be having. Instead, it’s all nonsense, yet again.

    • 30 nathkatun7
      February 6, 2013 at 3:44 pm

      Wonderful comment, UT! For a young person you are wise beyond your age. Michael Tomasky and Bobfr totally get it.

  13. February 6, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    What is the President to do, I mean I don’t want another decade long war where our men and women are killed or wounded. So what is the alternative I am being honest here I rather have drone strikes than another war/wars

  14. 33 Japa21
    February 6, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    I have to admit that this is one of those issues that I am very conflicted on. And I think it is important that we remove PBO from the equation because in 4 years he isn’t the one who will be making these decisions.

    There are several issues that need to be taken into account. The first is legal. The Constitution is clear about the need for due process. However, it does not really specify what due process is in detail. Can the President, in conjunction with some of his advisors, be considered due process? I am not a lawyer and am not about to pretend to say that I have the answers to this one.

    The second issue is the moral equation. This is a much more difficult and hazy area because, to some degree, we are talking about relativity. We can talk all we want about the saving of American lives, which is fine, but these strikes have tremendous collateral casualties, many innocent civilians. I realize that is part of war, but are we then not saying American lives have more value than foreigners? I don’t know the answer to that.

    The third is effectiveness. And here I am talking about drone strikes in general. Are we gaining more than we are losing strategically? Again, I don;t have the answer.

    Also, I think this is a debate about technology as well as everything else. In WWII we firebombed cities, unleashed atomic weaponry which caused massive casualties. Now technology allows us to narrow the window of devastation. The negative to that is that that advance in technology also makes it easier to utilize.

    Of course, the biggest issue currently udner discussion is the one of due process, specially as related to American citizens. Tomasky makes the point about what woudl have happened in WWII. And he is, of course, correct. At the same time, there is a difference between deciding somebody can be a target and actually doing the targeting. I am sure al Awaki, for example, was determined to be a legitimate target well prior to the actually sending of the drone against him.

    I wonder is a process cannot be put into place within our legal system to at least provide evidence of a person’s involvement in an organization that is plotting aqainst our country, thus putting that person into the targetable category. Evidence can be provided not only of the person’s involvement but of the unlikelihood of actually capturing said person.

    The reason I tool PBO out of the equation at the beginning is taht I do trust him to work throughb this and make decisions that have a true legitimacy. I am not sure I can say that about others, including some Dems.

    This is not meant to be an argument for or against, but is more of an attempt to sort things through and see all sides.

  15. 35 Mae who love our CIC
    February 9, 2013 at 8:05 am

    USPS Job Cuts Weigh Heavily on Minorities and Veterans

    Cuts to the U.S. Postal Service labor force have had distinct effects on many segments of the American workforce. The Postal Service is one of the largest employers of all minorities, led by African-Americans who make up 20 percent of postal workers and in some urban areas represent 75 to 80 percent of postal employees. For many minority groups the Postal Service offered jobs that provided security, decent pay and benefits that allowed workers to adequately provide for their families and build vibrant communities. The decimation of postal and other public sector jobs continues to effect other populations as well, such as veterans. Veterans make up 22 percent of the postal workforce and nearly a third of those are disabled. For groups like African-Americans, other minorities and veterans, instability at the Postal Service will continue to have negative consequences.

    For more on the effects of USPS job cuts and minorities and veterans, please click here.

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