“The United States is abandoning its role as the global champion of human rights. Revelations that top officials are targeting people to be assassinated abroad, including American citizens, are only the most recent, disturbing proof of how far our nation’s violation of human rights has extended.”
– Jimmy Carter, “A Cruel and Unusual Record,” June 25, 2012
Former U.S. presidents seldom publicly criticize the current occupants of the White House. It is even more unusual for them to criticize a sitting president who belongs to their own party. But this did not prevent Jimmy Carter from criticizing Barack Obama’s policy asserting the president’s right to murder Americans at will without due process in an article he wrote for the New York Times.
Perhaps even more astonishingly, Obama’s assertion of a presidential right to assassinate Americans was also publicly criticized by Ta-Nehisi Coates, a senior editor at The Atlantic. Despite being an Obama supporter, he astutely observed that “from this point forward the presidency means the right to unilaterally declare American citizens to be American enemies, and then kill them.”
One would think this policy would be particularly troubling to Mitt Romney, seeing as how he is the primary obstacle now standing between Barack Obama and a second presidential term. Not only is there absolutely nothing to prevent Obama from legally declaring Romney an American enemy and ordering him killed, but the president need not even make such an action a matter of public record.
And yet, despite their claims to be defenders of the U.S. Constitution, neither Mitt Romney nor Paul Ryan has, to the best of my knowledge, said a single word to protest this incredible violation of the U.S. Constitution, due process of law and basic human rights. In fact, the only time Mitt Romney addressed the drone issue at all was to lambast Obama for not attacking Iran in order to destroy a droid that crashed there. It is a little alarming that Romney seems to genuinely believe Obama’s position on drones is “weak and timid.” Obama is assassinating whomever he wants, whenever he wants, and that isn’t enough?
While it would be unfair to assume that a failure to criticize Obama’s assassination policy necessarily means they share it, both Romney and Ryan should certainly be asked about whether they share it or not. Both the conservative and the mainstream media have failed in this regard throughout the nomination process, but now that the Republican ticket has been selected, the following questions should be asked of both the presidential and vice-presidential nominees.
1) Do you support Barack Obama’s assertion of a presidential right to unilaterally declare American citizens to be enemies and kill them?
2) If you do not support that presidential right and you are elected president, will you announce your refusal to make use of it and ask Congress to pass a law forbidding the assassination of American citizens?
3) If you do not support that presidential right, why haven’t you attacked Obama for his position on it? Don’t you think that “he says he has the right to kill you and I totally disagree with him about that” would make for a pretty effective campaign issue?
4) If you do support that presidential right, how many people do you intend to kill when you are elected president? Whom do you intend to kill first?
Americans should think twice before deciding to vote for anyone who insists that he has the right to murder them, at any time, for any reason, without any process of law. We already know Barack Obama’s position, but we do not know his opponents. So before you, as an American citizen, decide to vote for Mitt Romney, don’t you think it might be a really good idea to learn what his position on assassinating American citizens without trial is?