Feedback 3/13

March 13, 2013

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Dealing with


In your column about the president's counterterrorism efforts (Urban Journal, "Obama's Second Term"), you said you are concerned that one individual – the executive – could decide which targets would be attacked without any form of oversight, even if the target were a US citizen. And, as you observed by quoting Senator King, that might lead to "deprivation of life, liberty, or property without due process of law."

The problem is that today we confront individuals and groups whose sole intent is to do harm to US citizens or US interests and who do not abide by any rules. Neither are they interested in compromise or any form of reasoned debate on the issues that divide us.

Are we to play by the rules of the Marquis of Queensbury while those who wish us ill play by no rules?

How then are we to respond to this very real threat within the framework of our agreed upon standards and Constitutional commitments?

Unfortunately, much as we would like to find one, there is no textbook answer to this dilemma. Ideally we would send our military and intelligence people out to uncover plots and gather information. The advantage of this approach is that it usually leads to hard information. The disadvantages are that it takes time, is expensive, and is subject to international jealousies and boundaries. And it leads to the risk of abuses in the form of torture.

The other approach involves the use of limited personnel on the ground, extensive employment of information gathering technology and ultimately, employing drones. This approach can achieve results in less time, tends to be accomplished outside of the public view, and results in minimal loss of life. The greatest drawback of this approach is that the targets are usually killed which means that useful information is lost with the target.

I don't have the answer you are seeking. I agree with you that some additional public discussion of how we are to combat the very real threat of terrorism is warranted. However, I do not think we need another commission to study the issue. The press in the form of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal and your paper are doing a good job of raising the issue before the public. What we need is for political leaders to raise the issue outside of the political context so that the public will focus on it.

And we need other community leaders and editors to talk about the problem so that the public will become aware of the danger and understand that it may be necessary to respond to this threat in new and untried ways.


In writing about our war on terror, Mary Anna Towler states "those who wage that battle cannot ignore the US Constitution." Well, the president is ignoring and disobeying the Constitution. The Constitution states that "powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution... are reserved to the states respectively or to the people."

A federal appeals court ruled that some of Obama's recess appointments were unconstitutional because the Senate wasn't in recess. Those appointees are still in their positions, and his owning or running private entities like auto companies, banks, and financial institutions is unconstitutional.

We have been Obama-sized.



Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Sam Palermo - Some day some Rightist will have to explain whether there is ANY action which Obama has taken which they don't claim to be unconstitutional.

But luckily for America, the Framers left that determination up to the courts and not in the hands of panderin g politicians or uneducated members of the public. The Obama administration is appealing the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit relating to his recess appointments . Until that appeal process is completed and a final decision rendered by the Supreme Court (or the lower court decision allowed to stand by the SC refusing to hear an appeal) Obama is not required to remove his appointees.

The rule of law is alive and well in America !

report 4 likes, 11 dislikes   
Posted by MJN on 03/13/2013 at 4:16 PM

@MJN, don't you remember Sam Palermo's and the right wing's outrage at the Reagan, Bush I and Bush II recess appointments? Or just 10 years ago, the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Rice/Powell lying to us getting us into a ruinous war? Or their other war criminal behavior thereafter? Me, neither.

report 3 likes, 7 dislikes   
Posted by Troll Whisperer on 03/14/2013 at 7:21 AM

Troll Whisperer - But we all know that when you point out that the Republicans are being hypocrites you get two responses:

1) Things were different when the GOP did it, or

2) pointing out that the GOP did the same thing is just an attempt to justify what the Democrats did.

I also find it amusing that so far 5 people have indicated a "dislike" to my statement that it's the role of the courts to determine constitutionality. Looks like some people don't really believe in THAT particular aspect of our constitutional process.

report 3 likes, 6 dislikes   
Posted by MJN on 03/14/2013 at 12:07 PM
Showing 1-3 of 3

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