Summary: Impeachment is too gentle a punishment for some high crimes by a President. They deserve everlasting infamy. Like this recent act by a President, as yet unpunished. We need drastic action as a reminder to future generations that we must be ever vigilant in defense of the Republic
“Every nation has the government it deserves.”
— By Joseph de Maistre (lawyer, diplomat, philosopher). From Letter 76 dated 13 August 1811, published in Lettres et Opuscules. Once we were worthy of America. Is that true today?
To understand today, see how far we have come
The evolution of liberty took a large step forward in 1215 when King John signed Magna Carta. Much of what Britain and America are today came from that moment. Three provisions of Magna Carta remain in effect today in Britain, including clause 39.
“No Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseised of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will We not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the land.”
It took 450 more years to limit the English Monarchs’ right of arbitrary arrest and punishment, achieved in the English Civil War (1641-1651).
This accomplishment, unique in history until then, was embedded in the US Constitution. First, limiting Congress in Article I Section 9: “No bill of attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.” Second, limiting State governments in Article I, Section 10: “No state shall …pass any bill of attainder ….” A Bill of Attainder declares a person guilty – without trial – and orders capital punishment (see more about it).
To make this clearer, the Sixth Amendment says “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed …” See more about it.
These are fundamental laws of America. Violation of them deserves the most severe possible punishment. Remember, remorse for crimes is a mitigating factor.
The worst violation of the Constitution by a President
“Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
— Written by Benjamin Franklin for the Pennsylvania Assembly in its “Reply to the Governor” (11 November 1755).
On 8 November 2011, President Obama’s DoJ produced a “white paper” granting himself powers not seen in Anglo-American history since the Stuart Kings. Centuries of progress were erased overnight, without protest by Congress or the mass of the US public. Obama did not call out the army or arrest protestors. We accepted his usurpation of power like pleasant peasants.
To firmly entrench the precedent – and demonstrate our subservience – on his orders, US citizens Anwar Awlaki and Samir Khan were executed in September 2011 by drone strikes in Yemen. If this is not a High Crime, then what is? Now that this precedent has been successfully made, future presidents will again use it.
Barack Obama taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School for twelve years, He knew full what he was doing. He has never expressed remorse for his actions. Thus the course of a nation is shaped.
“Sooner or later, everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences.”
— Attributed to Robert Louis Stevenson.
Obama has escaped impeachment. But much could still be done. Trump has never officially repudiated the DoJ memo or Obama’s actions. He should immediately do so.
Congress has taken no official notice of Obama’s illegal actions. They have passed many bills about past events for symbolic reasons. They could pass a sense of Congress resolution declaring Obama’s actions – and any similar future actions – illegal and deserving of impeachment.
This would be smart for the Republicans, putting the Democrat’s charges against Trump in a better perspective. But they won’t do so, which reveals much about their priorities – loyal to the Deep State’s quest for more power over their own partisan interests (and, of course, over the Republic’s needs). The Democrats in the House probably will not do so (ditto).
This would a great story for journalists, although not as hot as it would have been in 2011. That they have ignored such hot stories shows their higher loyalty to the Deep State.
The legal and civil liberty groups have been relatively quiet, except for those attacking the Republic. Such as Eric Posner (Prof Law, U Chicago). See his “President Obama Can Do Anything He Wants To Fight Terrorism” at Slate on 5 February 2013 – “That’s the lesson of the leaked drone memo.” Remember that when reading Slate’s daily hysterical rants about Trump’s tyrannical actions.
Now, for the mystery: why have the American people ignored all this? Whatever the reason, it is bad news for the Republic.
Our ancestors spent oceans of blood, sweat, and tears between that day on a meadow at Runnymede and the Constitutional Convention in 1787 at Philadelphia. The liberties provided by the Constitution were won over 30 generations by peoples from the unruly Saxons and Normans of Medieval England to the Founders. They had in common a high regard for their liberties and a willingness to fight for them. Since 9-11 we’ve thoughtlessly thrown away political structures that took centuries to build.
The Constitution is just a “paper bullet of the brain”, with no power except to the degree it lives in our hearts. That love appears to have died. The ill results might take decades or generations to fully emerge. But we have taken the first essential steps to a new regime. Our descendants will not forgive us if we do not act soon. But we will do so with few friends among the great institutions of America.
For more information
Ideas! For holiday shopping ideas, see my recommended books and films at Amazon. Also, see a story about our future: “Ultra Violence: Tales from Venus.”
If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about the Constitution, about reforming America: steps to political change, and especially these…
- Conservatives tell us not to worry about the Constitution’s death.
- Origins of what may become the 3rd American Republic (a plutocracy).
- “Lawfare” – using the law to undermine the Constitution (a powerful tool in the quiet coup now in progress).
- We’ve worked through all 5 stages of grief for the Republic. Now, on to The New America!
- Important: A 4th of July reminder that America is ours to keep – or to lose! We’re losing it.
- Alert! Our institutions are hollow because we don’t love them.
- Important: A new, dark picture of America’s future.
- America isn’t falling like the Roman Empire. It’s worse.
- America’s foes reveal themselves. They are many & strong.
A professor explains our post-Constitutional regime – be happy!
Eric Posner (Prof Law, U Chicago; bio here) and Adrian Vermeule (Prof Law, Harvard; bio here) have written a book explaining the Republic had died. Their explains that this is just fine: The Executive Unbound: After the Madisonian Republic. You can download the first chapter at Amazon, which reads like a stage hypnosis act: it’s necessary, it’s inevitable, it’s necessary, it’s inevitable.
Here is Posner’s brief summary (from the Volokh Conspiracy). Don’t worry. Be happy!
“The book argues that the Madisonian system of separation of powers has eroded beyond recognition and been replaced with a system of executive primacy (which others have called the “imperial presidency”) in which Congress and the courts play only a marginal role. Most scholars who have recognized this development have called for a return to the Madisonian system, but we believe that the rise of the executive has resulted from a recognition among political elites that only a powerful executive can address the economic and security challenges of modern times.”
27 thoughts on “Impeachment is too gentle a punishment for this crime”
Actually Obama’s worst was the signing AND defense of the “indefinite detention” provisions under the 2012 NDAA. A true crime of infamy
I use the usual hierarchy (which is, of course, subjective) that death is worse than jail. But you are correct that the NDAA is a similar rip in the Constitution – and also breaks legal precedents going back to Magna Carta. I wanted to keep this short, simple, and sharp – and so focused the illegal execution.
For more about the indefinite detention provisions of the NDAA (which apply even to US citizens), see this by the ALCU.
The Awlaki drone assassination and the NDAA indefinite detention provisions are why I did not support Obama for re-election in 2012. I’m not sure when I will ever vote for a Democratic or Republican presidential candidate again.
Voting is just the intro level of citizenship, like going into a restaurant and reviewing the menu. Citizenship occurs in the kitchen, as politically involved citizens determine what’s on the menu.
Maureen Dowd alluded to all of this in her column yesterday in the New York Times:
“Trump’s Bad. Sadly, He’s Not Alone.—-Another wild week for the president, but does it lead to rejection or re-election?”
I made the following comment:
Yes, all the more reason to elect Donald J. Trump for a second term. He has a special way of revealing manifest corruption in our government.
Thanks to the Democrats instead of impeaching Trump they highlighted their own projected evils and the corruption within the government itself. Such unattended service deserves at least a moment of silence.
My wife worries that I have turned into a Republican because I bring up Obama’s anti constitutional stances on many subjects. It is like “Well he got away with it”, then thinks Trump is worse, no matter how many times the charges turn out to be nonsense.
It appears that the idea of justice based on truth has been trampled as much or more than the constitution. YMMV.
It’s tribalism. Or, as the Founders called, factionalism. They feared it would destroy the Republic. We might prove them correct.
Just a comment that a true eye opener for those who want to understand how the military was transformed into a ‘drone machine’ is Jeremy Scahill’s “Dirty Wars”.
I’m convinced if most Americans had to read that, and were then asked to imagine not living under the protective umbrella of the US military/industrial state, they’d think more than twice about all our regime change exercises.
Thank you for the pointer to that book! These are always appreciated.
Another useful book about this is Terminator Planet: The First History of Drone Warfare, 2001-2050 by Nick Turse and Tom Engelhardt.
To learn about our next mad foreign wars, see Tomorrow’s Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa by Nick Turse.
Sadly, this tribalism does NOTHING for the members of either tribe other than Jack their BP and give them things to bytch about.
The spoils still concentrate in the hands of the few no matter who is in power.
You like movies Larry, so are we not living a slightly better version of “The Hunger Games”?
Not sure how killing foreign nationals in Yemen has anything to do with constitutional protections for American citizens. You don’t really explain much about who these people were so I don’t see the offense you think is so terrible.
The ‘foreign nationals’ were US Citizens on foreign soil accused (not tried let alone convicted) of being terrorists (in another illegal foreign war). They were droned to death.
In fact, I believe under Obama well over 1000 pp were killed by drones, the vast majority of which were ‘collateral damage’.
But then the press that loved to report every body bag of a US serviceman under Bush suddenly fell completely silent about that, as well as mass drone killings, and extrajudicial assassinations under Obama.
Funny how that worked, no?
Ok. Now that makes a difference. Good article.
Great follow-up comment, of a kind rarely seen.
Again, thanks for catching that missing detail. I finished this at 1 am. It crossed my mind to add that info, but I was too tired and lost the thought.
“killing foreign nationals in Yemen”
They were US citizens, executed while driving in a vehicle.
“You don’t really explain much about who these people”
Good point. I thought everybody knew the story, but I forgot that the far-Right lie like rugs about these matters. I’ll add some details.
Thanks for another interesting article.
I recall that the Supreme Court ruled that US citizens who associated themselves with an enemy military force may be considered hostile belligerents. Can a citizen be considered a “hostile belligerent” and still be protected by the Fourth or Fifth Amendments? If so, how is such protection exercised?
No labels the President (or Congress) puts on a citizen overrides his or her Constitutional rights. Doing so would make the President above the Constitution.
Also, the information for Obama’s “kill list” came from military and intelligence agencies. There is name for regimes that allow such agencies to determine guilt: tyranny.
It is our choice. Every generation gets to remake America. One break in the chain of generations and the Republic dies.
Haven’t we been down this road before?
Here’s an interesting and related article, which being a layman and not a lawyer I could somewhat parse.
“Thus we see that the rule of necessity overrides all other law, and, in fact, allows one to do that which would normally be against the law. So it is reasonable to assume that the wording of the enabling portion of the Act of March 9, 1933, is an indication that what follows is something which will probably be against the law. It will probably be against the Constitution of the United States, or it would not require that the rule of necessity be invoked to enact it”
The citizenry didn’t march on Washington then, why would they do so now, when they’ve been sold essentially the same ‘bill of goods’?
Wow. That was one tenacious article. Despite his flood of words, there is nothing in it allowing US citizens to be executed – or even jailed – without writ or trial.
Considering foreign exchange transactions and limits on trading with other nations to be the same as jailing or executing people is nuts. Nor does anything in that declare that citizens doing those activities could be executed or jailed without trial.
“Haven’t we been down this road before?”
No, we have not. The closest is Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus at various times in some areas of the USA beginning in April 1861. This was a power reserved to Congress under the Constitution. Congress eventually did so on 3 March 1863, and Lincoln formally acted on 15 September 1863. See the Wikipedia entry for details.
This was a war on US soil for the survival of the Union. However, even so Lincoln did not – as Obama did – in effect issue a Bill of Attainder. Nobody was executed.
Yeah,it was a slog to attempt to read it. Ok, so not the same.
Let’s expand out to a bigger picture. How many have died ( American and non-American ) at the command of our “imperial” presidents? How many illegal ( lacking congressional declaration )wars and “minor actions” have resulted in untold deaths of both Americans and non-Americans(including huge numbers of innocents). We take these for granted, they have become so commonplace. And yet, because two Americans in particular were targeted for execution, we have now have a constitutional crisis or some such? I guess we just see the world through different prisms on this issue. I’m not saying your wrong to be upset (if that’s the right word) about this, just saying that some others can view this in a somewhat different light, recognizing that it’s wrong yet taken in context it fits a longstanding pattern of illegal,unconstitutional, and morally reprehensible behavior by our supreme leaders, which appears likely to continue unchecked. Boiled down, I don’t believe 2011 marked a watershed.
What a wonderful demo of contempt for the Constitution and the rights we have under it. I wonder if when they’re gone, will you be among those that are cheering – or whining?
Perhaps you should read the Constitution. You appear to either have forgotten what it says, or perhaps were always ignorant of it.
“How many illegal ( lacking congressional declaration )wars and “minor actions” have resulted in untold deaths of both Americans and non-Americans (including huge numbers of innocents).”
Since the early days of the Republic, explicit Congressional approval has never been considered necessary for small wars. Presidents have cited Congressional authorization for large ones – such as Vietnam and the WOT.
The Constitution is a set of procedures for the government, not a moral code.
“Boiled down, I don’t believe 2011 marked a watershed.”
You have not said anything that indicates that you even read this post. Or given a reason why violating an 8 century old precedent isn’t a “watershed.”
You’re looking at this as two trees in the forest. The forest is every American. If the POTUS can simply designate a US Citizen as worth killing (and/or indefinitely detaining) have we not destroyed our Constitution and in effect created an Emperor/Monarchy? Once you start picking and choosing which Constitutional Rights are still in effect as the ruler do deems, where does it stop? Can the POTUS choose to kill everyone in Utah because he believes they are a seditious lot? Can he kill me because I disagree with him and therefore I might be a terrorist?
Sounds like hyperbole? What if one day it isn’t? One need only look at the detention of the Japanese-Americans during WWII (most of which never financially recovered) to see how power can run amok.
Another example: erasing the right to property ownership unless taken by eminent domain with fair compensation. We were told that allowing the government to just seize property would be used only against very very bad guys. Now cops routinely seize money or goods, kept for the use of their team – secure in the knowledge that it is seldom worthwhile to pay an attorney thousands or tens of thousands to fight to get it back in court.
Now it’s routine. Precedents are used and grow.
Government will always attempt to intrude on the rights of citizens because (as I mainly believe) so many in it are attracted to power and enjoy wielding it.
Fortunately there are groups good at fighting back. Sadly, what can be passed in minutes can take years and much money to correct.
Here’s an EXCELLENT resource and one well worth donating to if you believe in your rights.
In this case I linked to their page on… asset forfeiture.
The history of this country is so loaded with all kinds of “less than perfect” people that what we get excited about now seems silly. Think of all the things done by Lincoln, Roosevelt and others versus what we get excited about now as “unconstitutional” or abuse of power.
What Obama did was clearly abusive.
Thanks for the post.
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