Congress vs Obama on Targeted Killings

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Ben Cohen
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Finally, some significant developments on Obama's highly contentious and unconstitutional targeted kill policy. From Mother Jones:

Congress is finally standing up to President Barack Obama on targeted killing. Almost a year after three American citizens were killed in US drone strikes, legislators are pushing the administration to explain why it believes it's legal to kill American terror suspects overseas.

Congress is considering two measures that would compel the Obama administration to show members of Congress what Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) calls Obama's "license to kill": internal memos outlining the legal justification for killing Americans overseas without charge or trial. Legislators have been asking administration officials to release the documents for nearly a year, raising the issue multiple times in hearings and letters. But the new proposals, including one from Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) first flagged by blogger Marcy Wheeler and another in a separate intelligence bill, aren't requests—they would mandate disclosure. That shift shows both Republicans and Democrats are growing impatient with the lack of transparency on targeted killings.

However, writes Glenn Greenwald:

This push is coming from Republican Senators, while leading Democrats such as Dianne Feinstein are attempting to impede these efforts to bring basic accountability and transparency to this most radical power. Note the debate here: not whether the President should have the power to order Americans executed without due process, but simply whether he should have to account to Congress for what he does and what the legal framework is that he believes authorizes this.

On a side note, Greenwald's article is worth reading in full as he goes into significant detail on the worrying normalization of extremism in America. While the tone is typically lecturing, Greenwald makes some interesting points. Take his example on torture:

After Dick Cheney criticized John McCain this weekend for having chosen Sarah Palin as his running mate, this was McCain’s retort:

"Look, I respect the vice president. He and I had strong disagreements as to whether we should torture people or not. I don’t think we should have."

Isn’t it amazing that the first sentence there (“I respect the vice president”) can precede the next one (“He and I had strong disagreements as to whether we should torture people or not”) without any notice or controversy?...... “Torture” has been permanently transformed from an unspeakable taboo into a garden-variety political controversy, where it shall long remain.

I don't think this train of logic is completely valid as pro-lifers use the exact same logic when denouncing pro-choice politicians. Many Christians in America will never vote for a Democrat because they believe they are explicitly condoning and funding the murder of unborn fetuses (I personally believe you can disagree with someone's policy position vehemently but still respect them for their other principles/beliefs). However, Greenwald's still has a point - extreme positions in the US political spectrum are increasingly accepted as normal, and once everyone starts to refer to them amicably, it gives them a validity that can pollute dialogue and make issues like torture mainstream - which it clearly should not be.

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