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They say, we print…

Here’s another reason the 5th Amendment crushing assassination of an American matters:

Underwear-bomb maker believed dead in Yemen strike

CAIRO – A Saudi militant believed killed in the U.S. drone strike in Yemen constructed the bombs for the al-Qaida branch’s most notorious attempted attacks — including the underwear-borne explosives intended to a down a U.S. aircraft, and a bomb carried by his own brother intended to assassinate a Saudi prince.

The death of Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri would make the Friday drone strikes on a convoy in the central deserts of Yemen one of the most effective single blows in the U.S. campaign to take out al-Qaida’s top figures.

Yes, this doesn’t say “suspected of constructing the bombs for the al-Qaida” but rather states as a simple fact he “constructed the bombs for the al-Qaida branch’s most notorious attempted attacks”.

You have to continue a bit further than the average reader will probably read to start getting to the “proof” (and most probably don’t get much past the title):

His fingerprint was found on the bomb hidden in the underwear of a Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253 over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, according to U.S. counterterrorism officials.

I am not saying that this isn’t true, nor that if it is true, I much care that we killed him (again, I’m not much for killing period, I think at a basic level killing is wrong period, but I’m not going to lose sleep over it). And I’m certainly not saying, provided it’s all true, that I want this bastard left out there making bombs.

Still, the point is here we have a news report that most will take as gospel that is essentially based entirely on the hearsay of government sources. In fact there’s nothing much anyone can do but take the government’s word on it – first of all it’s beyond most news organizations to directly source this kind of stuff and second, the vast majority of material is “secret” and will remain so indefinitely.

So we’re forced, Star Chamber-esque, to take their word for it. However they’ve been wrong in pretty spectacular ways before:

In his final word, the CIA’s top weapons inspector in Iraq said Monday that the hunt for weapons of mass destruction has “gone as far as feasible” and has found nothing, closing an investigation into the purported programs of Saddam Hussein that were used to justify the 2003 invasion.

And it’s not like public officials don’t lie:

Monica Lewinsky says former President Bill Clinton lied under oath when he described their relationship during an impeachment trial, a new book claims.

And it’s not like, even with “due process”, we’ve haven’t wrongly convicted:

The Innocent and the Death Penalty

Seventeen people have been proven innocent and exonerated by DNA testing in the United States after serving time on death row. They were convicted in 11 states and served a combined 209 years in prison – including 187 years on death row – for crimes they didn’t commit.

Our forefathers took this very seriously – to the point that they amended the Constitution to guarantee extremely strong protections. To quote Mason:

That in all capital or criminal prosecutions a man hath a right to demand the cause and nature of his accusation

This is what “habeas corpus” is all about – the right to have ones case seen before a court to judge its legality, something which drone killings obviously don’t allow.

However it’s the “longer view” that I’m concerned about – combining an increasingly parroting unquestioning press (and even public) with and an ever growing secrecy/security state, we risk a future where the government can effectively claim anything without substantiation and then execute with impunity. Said executions being done with no checks and balances, no public oversight, and certainly not even a simulacrum of “due process”.

Maybe our leaders are generally getting it right, but if governments weren’t getting it wrong regularly, then our forefathers wouldn’t have inserted the significant inoculation of the 5th Amendment. In fact it was so important they went back and shoved basically the same thing in the 14th Amendment:

No State shall … deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law

These laws were made by leaders who knew first hand what tyranny was about and sought to protect their nascent nation from ever facing it again.

So, while I get that Americans don’t give a shit if some brown foreigner sees “due process” (that alone is sad statement on the morality of the country), however these are Americans. Granted, brown Islamic (and in this case, probably “ass hole”) Americans, but still Americans.

Which brings me to a final quote (which I’m admit, I’m abusing the use of, but I think it gets the point across):

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.


We certainly know that bad countries get it wrong:

Syrian security forces killed 27 anti-government protesters and carried out wide-scale arrests as demonstrators took to the streets after Friday prayers to demand that President Bashar al-Assad step down

(though I should note, from a report that also similarly lacks “secondary sources” to substantiate its statements).

And people insist on keeping their guns because they are fearful of our government going “bad”, or to quote Scalia, the 2nd Amendment “right to bear arms”:

“was understood across the political spectrum that the right helped to secure the ideal of a citizen militia, which might be necessary to oppose an oppressive military force if the constitutional order broke down”

(OMG! I’m actually quoting Scalia!)

So, if it’s so probable that the government is going to go to pot that we have to hold on to our guns, we sure as hell need to hold on to “due process”.

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