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Neither citizenship nor place matter

March 19, 2013

There are many who, either through ignorance or politics, misunderstand the Constitutional issues surrounding drone killings. Greenwald takes Krauthammer to task for wrongly claiming “outside American soil, the Constitution does not rule.”

It is worth stating two basic facts:

1. The Constitution applies to the US government acting outside US territory. As Greenwald makes clear in his article, this is black letter law.

2. Most of the Constitution’s limits on what the government can do to people apply to non-citizens. If the government wants to try a Mexican national for murder, it must allow for the same rights to jury trial, adequate defense, and access to witnesses as if trying an American citizen. The fifth amendment begins “No person,” not “No citizen.” (Immigration has its own rules.)

So how is it the government is able to kill people without trial? War is the answer. When and where the government Constitutionally is prosecuting war, it can kill or capture the enemy. Here, as well at there. American citizens, as well as foreign. As Greenwald puts it:

Does anyone remember the Jose Padilla case: in which the Bush administration, in 2002, detained this US citizen, on US soil; declared him to be an “enemy combatant”; and then proceeded to imprison him for the next 3 1/2 years without charges or trial — all with little public resistance and, ultimately, endorsement from a right-wing court?

Which is why, regarding drone killings, the right focus of civil liberty efforts is on the Constitutional and other legal limits to the prosecution of war. Read the Greenwald article.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Laura permalink
    March 19, 2013 9:53 am

    Most Americans believe that if it doesn’t affect them personally, it is not their problem. That’s why Rand Paul focused on the “killing of Americans on American soil” for 13 hours, instead of the “killing of people anywhere”. Because otherwise he wouldn’t have gathered as many fans.

    In any case, I think Americans should think and think hard that if China had a constitution just like ours, and a population just like ours (blessed and all,) they could kill innocent bystanders in San Francisco with a drone, in pursuit of a “terrorist”. And would we stand up to defend and excuse their actions like we defend and excuse the Obama and Bush’s administration actions? I think not.

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