05 June 2012

"Due process just means there's a process that you do"

The above quote was comedian Stephen Colbert's take on the U.S. Administration's latest definition of due process. The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel prepared a memo justifying the murder of American citizens abroad, saying the U.S. Constitution's Fifth Amendment guarantee of due process applied, but it could be satisfied by internal deliberations in the executive branch. In other words, due process is little more than what the President says it is. In Colbert's words, "The current process is apparently, first the President meets with his advisers and decides who he can kill. Then he kills them."

This must be one of the most asinine legal opinions ever expressed. If due process requires no more than a conversation in the President's office, it has no real meaning at all. Furthermore, if the President believes he can kill a fellow citizen with impunity, he has abandoned the rule of law.

The rule of law states that we are all equal under the law, the mighty and the humble alike. Its importance lies precisely in its insistence that justice is blind to privilege—it no more allows a president to kill with impunity than it does the meanest citizen of the land.

One wonders if there is anything White House lawyers can't provide legal justification for. George W. Bush's lawyers provided legal justification for torture, now Obama's provide it for murder. The U.S. Constitution provides little pause for these guys.

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