shouldn't [Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick] Leahy ask his own legion of lawyers, who are at least as competent as those in the executive branch, to assess the state of the law for him?
Here, in a nutshell, is what they would probably find: First, the Supreme Court has not ruled (yet) that the due-process clause of the Constitution prohibits the executive branch, without judicial review, from targeting and killing an American outside a war zone. Second, there are no statutes on the books that prevent the president from ordering such an action. Third, any executive orders or other policy statements that might be interpreted to preclude such a killing do not bind the president. Finally, it may be that the justification of self-defense is sufficiently strong to answer the moral and ethical questions, (although we do not know the details of the administration's position).
So, Sen. Leahy, now you can stop asking for memos that you neither need nor are likely to obtain, and get to work...
...Leahy should redirect his attention from asking for memorandums from the Justice Department to focus his committee's energy on the real issue facing Congress: Should the president of the United States be able to order the killing of an American citizen with no review outside his own executive branch advisors? Even if Leahy trusts this president to tread cautiously with such enormous, unchecked power, what about the next one, or the one after that?
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