On June 5, 1975, the New York Times quoted approvingly the late Senator Frank Church’s condemnation of state assassinations. ‘I don’t care who may have ordered it. Murder is murder. The United States is not a wicked country and we cannot abide a wicked government.’ Thirty-seven years later, the Times does not have any principled objection to assassinations. It only desires that murders be carried out in accordance with a set of bureaucratically administered rules.
The “rule of law” and state killings by Bill Van Auken and David North
The authors are referring to the Nov. 29th column by the editorial board of the New York Times, “Rules for Targeted Killing”.
The more fundamental conception … is that “formal guidelines”—elsewhere the editorial stresses that “rules for killing…need to be rigorous and formalized”—somehow legitimize what is unquestionably the most heinous crime that a government can commit—taking human life without due process of law.
To speak of some set of “rules” or “guidelines” adopted by the executive branch to govern these killings being “based on the rule of law” is both legally fraudulent and morally obscene. The entire program of drone assassinations represents a repudiation in practice of the bedrock principles of law, ranging from habeas corpus to the right to confront one’s accusers and the right to receive a trial by a jury of one’s peers.
An inherently criminal practice cannot be made legal, let alone constitutional, by cloaking it in a set of procedures and regulations drawn up in secret and implemented by high-ranking state officials.
… If the US government is empowered to carry out the extrajudicial execution of US citizens and noncitizens alike overseas, it is only a matter of time before a president orders an assassination within the United States.
No biggie, as long as they follow the “rules”!