A few days ago, I watched an interview of Michele Bachmann conducted by Mike Wallace. He played a clip of one of her speeches, in which she used the term “gangster government” to describe President Obama’s White House. Wallace wanted to know exactly what she meant by that phrase. Bachmann explained that we have a president who ignores the rule of law, She then supported her claim by discussing how GM and Chrysler bondholder contracts were illegally broken by this administration in favor of the unions. She had a point.
And this point was reinforced again in the context of the killing of Osama bin Laden. I won’t belabor the details of the Navy SEAL operation in Pakistan. If you’ve been paying attention, this story has been retold on countless news programs and Internet stories. In fact, A Hollywood Republican has articles by Tim Ross, Ira Schwartz, Shannon Ivey and Frank DeMartini all covering the subject. And for the most part, everyone seems thankful to Obama. I even received a text message last night from a friend of mine. It read simply “the man is simply awesome !!!!”, presumably referring to our current Command-in-Chief. I think that sums up the popular consensus in America, at least for the moment.
So it’s interesting that Shannon’s article entitled “Would Jesus Have Killed Osama Bin Laden” is one of the few dissenting voices arguing upon moral high ground. As a Christian, I understand. And I find myself in her camp on this subject, albeit from a different perspective. That perspective would be the rule of law. It’s something that a gangster government ignores, preferring instead to take any action that serves their political agenda.
You may recall that in 2008, Barack Obama proclaimed that bin Laden should be brought to trial, similar to the Nuremberg trials of World War II. He believed then that Nuremberg was “an inspiration” because it advanced “universal principles and set a tone for the creation of an international order.” So much for universal principles. The president gave the order Sunday night to have bin Laden killed. Congress was not consulted, nor was the government of Pakistan, the UN, our allies or the American people. He simply gave the order and bin Laden was executed in about 40 minutes time as the president watched the secured satellite feed. You might consider that the ultimate reality television. The outcome was favorable, and predictably, so was public approval. After all, it took 3,519 days since September 11, 2001 to bring this to closure. And of course, bin Laden truly was a monster. You must have seen his resume, so again, I won’t belabor it here.
But there’s still that pesky “rule of law” to contend with. And it was eloquently argued by Judge Andrew Napolitano last night on his program “Freedom Watch”. So please allow me to provide you with the transcript. He articulated everything I was thinking…
“Does the government work for us or do we work for the government? Can the president kill whoever he wants so long as the target is monstrous and the public approves?”
Napolitano goes on to describe how Ronald Reagan began the policy of financing “freedom fighters” in order to defeat the Russians. Those freedom fighters included Osama bin Laden.
“(After 9/11) we find two presidential candidates, insisting that they can find him dead or alive, believing that removing him from the scene will strike a serious blow to Al Qaeda, whether he still in charge of it are not. And promising to remove him will win votes……. the demise of this monster has brought great joy and unity (in America). I hope not too much joy and unity, because the same president that ordered the killing of bin Laden, also wants to borrow trillions of dollars that your children and grandchildren will need to repay so as to finance his welfare and warfare state. This same president also authorized missiles and drones that killed Libyan dictator Qaddafi’s infant grandchildren last weekend. The same president that thinks he can fight any war he wants to fight without congressional authorization. This is the same president that has put the Feds in charge of your health care. But last night, a little before midnight here on the East Coast, President Obama, with an eye on his lagging poll numbers and the sickening economy over which he presides, announced that in a quick 40 minutes of time, 40 of America’s best and Navy SEALs found bin Laden, asked him to surrender and when he declined, blew his brains out. And then he told us that after bin Laden’s remains were identified, and they were dumped at sea, in accordance with Muslim tradition. No photos, no testimony from eyewitnesses, just the president’s word that he is dead. And to repeat a famous phrase, “now sleeps with the fishes”. Of course, the burial at sea is new to most Americans. It is new to many Muslims as well. Bin Laden belonged to a Muslim sect that believes in anonymous burial in the earth.”
“Beyond the issue of whether or not the government is telling us the truth or pulling a fast one to save Obama’s lousy presidency, is the issue of the lawful power of the president to order someone killed, no matter how monstrous, how dangerous or how unpopular.”
“Here is the law. It comes from the Constitution, from the treaties to which the United States is a party, from federal statutes written by the Congress and from interpretations of the Constitution, treaties and statutes by the courts. Killing by the federal government is a crime, except in self-defense, in war on the battlefield or after the verdict from the jury for the death penalty. Self-defense means that the person, the group or country is just about to attack the US. War means that Congress has declared war on a person, group or country. And a jury verdict means that there was a trial. None of those conditions existed with bin Laden. Surely, he was wanted for one of the most horrific crimes in history, and surely he should have been brought to justice, but justice must be according to law, not according to the president or even the happy throngs in the streets. The emotional and patriotic sites if they rejoice that this monster is dead and my fellow Americans feel a sense of closure. I wept, right here in New York, with the victims of the families of 9/11. I understand fully their rejoicing today, but the moral and legal sides of me are compelled to warn that this business of the president deciding to kill people is very dangerous and very unlawful.”
“Put aside that governmental assassination is a violation of the Constitution. Put aside that this killing was not in self-defense and was without a declaration of war. Put aside the law that the president may never order the killing of civilians period. And put aside that governmental killing violates at least four treaties and three federal statutes.”
“This particular “popular” killing can and will be used as precedent by this president and his successors to kill on a whim. Where will it stop? Who will Pres. Obama kill next? Can the president now send the Seals to kill Qaddafi? Pres. Asad? Mr. Putin? Fidel Castro? Hugo Chavez or Kim Jong-Il? Can he kill whoever is an obstacle to his purposes? Can he kill Bradley Manning or Julian Assage? Or Khalid Sheikh Mohammed? Could he kill Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh or me? Can the president kill anyone who was once a friend but became our enemy? Suppose France or Great Britain turn on us tomorrow and their leaders get in our way? Well, the answer to these questions are obvious. And that’s why we have laws to govern killing by the government. What the president has already killed, unfortunately, is the rule of law. The rule of law is the last refuge of civilized people. It protects us from arbitrary government decisions to take lives, liberty or property. The president took an oath to uphold the rule of law, and he’s violated that oath.”
“Without the rule of law, the president becomes a King. And that is more fearful and potentially fatal to our freedoms than bin Laden ever was.”
Napolitano is correct. Obama has always thought of himself as more of a king than a president. It explains his contempt for the Constitution. It’s demonstrated by his flagrant abuse of executive orders as a way to circumvent Congress. And this is the mentality that’s on the record as stating his intentions to “reward our friends and punish our enemies” when referring to the American people. This is a mentality that has rammed countless liberal agendas down our throats while bankrupting this country with spiraling deficits and out-of-control spending. It’s classic Chicago “gangster” politics. Now the guy sitting behind the Oval Office desk can issue assassination orders in lieu of declaring war. Sorry, but I don’t want to see Osama bin Laden dead if it also means the death of American rule of law.
I don’t believe in presidential power to kill an individual and immediately dump the body, regardless of circumstance. I don’t believe in The Gangster White House.