Dispatches from the Creation Wars

The Obama administration is arguing for dismissal of another new lawsuit based on the state secrets privilege, this one a case challenging the government’s authority to assassinate American citizens abroad. This is the third time it has done so in cases filed since it took office, on top of all the Bush-era cases where it has continued to do so.

In fact, the government, under both Bush and Obama, have invoked the SSP in every single challenge filed against any aspect of the “war on terror.” So much for that promise that it would only invoke the privilege when it was absolutely necessary. Glenn Greenwald responds:

But what’s most notable here is that one of the arguments the Obama DOJ raises to demand dismissal of this lawsuit is “state secrets”: in other words, not only does the President have the right to sentence Americans to death with no due process or charges of any kind, but his decisions as to who will be killed and why he wants them dead are “state secrets,” and thus no court may adjudicate their legality.

A very intense case of food poisoning in New York on Thursday, combined with my traveling home all night last night, prevents me from writing much about this until tomorrow (and it’s what rendered the blog uncharacteristically silent for the last two days). But I would hope that nobody needs me or anyone else to explain why this assertion of power is so pernicious — at least as pernicious as any power asserted during the Bush/Cheney years. If the President has the power to order American citizens killed with no due process, and to do so in such complete secrecy that no courts can even review his decisions, then what doesn’t he have the power to do?

Virtually nothing.