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Glenn Greenwald on Obama's power to kill

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We recently wrote about the president's new ability to kill Americans by executive order.

(It still shocks me to write that — it's so stark — but that's a fair description. It also shocks me that my concern about this power is surrounded by a cone of silence from my countrymen and women.)

Our earlier article quoted lawyer Jonathan Turley at length on the subject. Here's Salon's Glenn Greenwald discussing the same topic with Sam Seder on

This is a great walk-through by Glenn. He starts with the beginning of the practice by Obama, the comparison with Bush II legal opinion, and the implications of AG Holder's speech. An extremely clear, focused interview. (Don't miss the comparison to Bush II at about 17:00 — the key point, Obama can get away with stuff that Bush could never do. Guess why.)

More generally, think about "targeted killing" — executive assassination — for a minute.

1. This power-grab has implications for our "reasonable positions" discussion about voting in 2012, but I'll save that for later.

2. If Julian Assange were traveling in a country where the collateral damage, extra dead bodies, would be brown people ("Unpeople" like Afghans for example), would Obama order a drone strike to kill him?

After all, Bradley Manning is being held without trial, and because WikiLeaks is "known bad," it's all good with our freedom-loving fellow citizens. Manning's an invisible man.

3. How long before this power starts being used for political takedowns? (They call that "feature creep" in the tech biz; you start with code that adds two numbers, and end up with code that measures the distance to the sun.)

4. In particular, how long before the next Scott Walker, as president, jumps in with both feet and just uses it to the full? Republicans use every ounce of power they get; always.

This really is a kingly power, you know. But hey, isn't there a game on? (Maybe if Civil Liberties had a basketball team, people would care.)


(To follow on Twitter: @Gaius_Publius)

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