A steady, welcome rain subdues the morning light as I write this, but my memory is stuck on the moon: a thin, golden crescent illuminating the dark whole, sinking down into a bed of clouds atop Waialeale last evening as a sky choked with stars looked on.
It looks like the U.S. has sunk to another low in the “war on terror” with the reported assassinations by drone strike of two Americans who were never even charged with any crimes. Like all the bad, corrupt leaders we’ve supposedly been trying to topple, our President now has his own secret security force that can take out anyone he deems a threat. In this case, that included U.S-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who anonymous officials say is “believed” to have inspired and plotted attacks on the U.S., and Samir Khan, whose “crime” was apparently publishing a magazine that included advice on how to make bombs and use weapons.
How, really, is this any different than the death squads employed by dictators? How has a nation founded on the rule of law gotten to the place where we can justify assassinations of citizens based on unsubstantiated reports released by unidentified persons? And how can “inspiration,” whether for good or evil, be considered a crime?
I’m not the only one asking such questions as the U.S. uses the convenient excuse of terrorism to adopt its own lawless ways. The Guardian report included condemnatory comments from Ron Paul and a U.S. Constitutional law expert, as well as a link to the statement issued by the ACLU:
The targeted killing program violates both U.S. and international law. As we've seen today, this is a program under which American citizens far from any battlefield can be executed by their own government without judicial process, and on the basis of standards and evidence that are kept secret not just from the public but from the courts.
"If the Constitution means anything, it surely means that the President does not have unreviewable authority to summarily execute any American whom he concludes is an enemy of the state."
The ACLU previously had filed a lawsuit against Obama on behalf on Awlaki's father to stop the assassination. U.S. District Judge John Bates threw out the lawsuit, saying the father did not have standing and a judge does not have authority to review the president's military decisions. According to an AP report:
But Bates also seemed troubled by the facts of the case, which he wrote raised vital considerations of national security and for military and foreign affairs. For instance, the judge questioned why courts have authority to approve surveillance of Americans overseas but not their killing and whether the president could order an assassination of a citizen without "any form of judicial process whatsoever."
Still, seeing as how Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the others got away with torture, what is the likelihood that Obama will be held accountable for his crimes?
While we’re on the topic of accountability, Councilman Mel Rapozo has filed a complaint with the county’s Board of Ethics. He’s asking for an advisory opinion on whether there’s a conflict of interest in the relationship between the Salary Commission, Boards and Commission’s Administrator John Isobe and Mayor Bernard Carvalho’s administration.
At issue is whether it was proper for Salary Commission Chair Charlie King to direct Isobe to draft a resolution — apparently without concurrence or prior guidance of other commissioners — that reflected the mayor’s “salary-setting objectives,” rather than “independently establishing the basis of its salary-setting decisions in public meetings.”
The complaint states that the Commission’s action creates the appearance that it “is functioning as an ‘arm’ of the Mayor’s Administration” rather than as an independent entity.
Rapozo’s complaint also raises the question of whether it was proper for Isobe to include a pay increase for himself — indeed, he would be the only person to get a raise — in the resolution he drafted for the Salary Commission. The complaint says this creates “the appearance of a conflict of interest in the relationship” between the Salary Commission and the Office of Boards and Commissions.
The complaint is set to be reviewed by the Board at its Oct. 14 meeting.