After a lot of feigned hand-wringing about the legality of assassinating American citizens without any judicial oversight, the next of us to go is now just a matter of time, and remains totally up to President Obama.
Officials confirm that Obama and “various commanders in the US military” are having discussions about an as-yet-unnamed American citizen who may or may not be summarily executed at some point in the near future.
We don’t know who he is, or where he is, but we do know the excuse that he’s “involved with al-Qaeda,” an allegation that will never actually need to be defended in court.
Pentagon officials say the question is pretty much an academic one at this point, and comes down to whether the president deems killing him as worth the “potential domestic fallout” of yet another extrajudicial killing of an American citizen.
The administration made a big deal of building up a putative secret case against Anwar al-Awlaqi, or at least repeating the same allegations often enough that his assassination wasn’t met with a huge backlash, though in the wake of his death the administration killed two other Americans, including Awlaqi’s son, in such a haphazard way it seemed killing Americans at will was just the “new normal.”
The Justice Department will no doubt argue that it is the new normal from a legal perspective, but having dispensed with the legal questions surrounding killing people without any court involvement, officials still apparently fear there will be some backlash if they start making a habit of it.