The Rule of Law, Obama and Drones

As mentioned in an earlier post, Obama’s administration currently takes the position that it can essentially disappear U.S. citizens, not ever being under any legal obligation to admit, even after the deed is done, that it has assassinated anyone. The policy remains secret in most aspects, involves no judicial review, has resulted in the deaths of innocent civilians, has been employed far from any battlefield and has sparked deep anti-American resentment in countries where we can ill afford it.

The Obama administration’s policy regarding drones is problematic because it makes it acceptable for the government to refuse to acknowledge such an act. Where the government has the power to kill us in secret and not be accountable to anyone. Where the sovereign can refuse to own up to its actions.

The problem with such an approach is that once you make it known that the Rule of Law should not and cannot apply to everyone and that the government reserves the right to make such a determination at its own discretion without having to answer to anyone, you set in motion a dangerous set of events and policies.

If the Rule of Law, which is the “supremacy of regular power as opposed to arbitrary power” does not apply to everyone, then it might as well not apply to anyone.

For a free society society to be able to function as a free and just society, everyone has to be accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced and independently adjudicated, and which are consistent with international human rights norms and standards. It requires adherence to the principles of supremacy of law, equality before the law, accountability to the law, fairness in the application of the law, separation of powers, participation in decision-making, legal certainty, avoidance of arbitrariness and procedural and legal transparency.

The Obama administration is seeking to set a precedent for an authority no administration should ever have.

And I say that as a progressive who otherwise supports Obama.

Remember inherent in progressivism is the ability to be critical and evaluate issues based on their merits, instead of just  blindly holding on to dogmas and personalities of leaders in reverence and no questions asked.  If you are just going to side with someone regardless of the merits of the issue at hand, then you might as well just be a Republican or Conservative.


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