Glenn Greenwald is outraged that President Obama can kill suspected American terrorists along with suspected foreign terrorists and anybody else in the general vicinity:

Remember when many Democrats were horrified (or at least when they purported to be) at the idea that Bush was merely eavesdropping on American citizens without judicial approval? Shouldn’t we be at least as concerned about the President’s being able to assassinate Americans without judicial oversight?

More, later:

Amazingly, the Bush administration’s policy of merely imprisoning foreign nationals (along with a couple of American citizens) without charges — based solely on the President’s claim that they were Terrorists — produced intense controversy for years.  That, one will recall, was a grave assault on the Constitution.  Shouldn’t Obama’s policy of ordering American citizens assassinated without any due process or checks of any kind — not imprisoned, but killed — produce at least as much controversy?

There are approximately infinity more paragraphs like this, if you are into that sort of thing.  Note:

  • We’ve actively been doing this as part of the War On Whateveritis since 2002, at least;
  • Police in this country can kill a fleeing suspect if “it is necessary to prevent the escape and the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.”  This came from the Supreme Court; no involvement from the President is needed; doesn’t matter who issued your passport; and
  • In Florida, anybody can kill anybody for any reason, provided the victim is not a blastula.  Maybe this is off-topic, but it’s crazy enough to mention.

There exist places in the world, and situations anywhere, where it is not possible to arrest someone who is a declared enemy of the United States working to kill Americans.  The choices you have are A) do nothing, or B) kill them.  If you don’t pick A, you pick B; if you don’t pick B, you have picked A.  It’s not a very satisfying list of options, but life is often unsatisfying.  Whether choosing B (or reserving the option to choose B) is more or less awful than illegally wiretapping x thousand or million Americans is a fine topic for debate, but in the second situation there was a legal, fully above-the-board way to do it.  Whether choosing B is more evil than imprisoning people without charges is a good question, too; but, again, once you’ve rendered someone harmless by imprisoning them, you’ve got access to a legal system which we consider adequate to handle every other sort of criminal.  The difference is the access to civilized recourse, which is the major reason why property values are higher in grimy, overcrowded New York City than in lovely As’craqq, NWFP, Pakistan.

Frankly, I’d be happy to let the President blow up terrorists of all nations if he would agree that any potential “collateral damage” would require a note signed by at least two Popes.  I’d be even happier if someone could proffer a convincing argument that, “right” or “wrong”, this policy actually does anything to stop the spread of anti-American terrorist groups, which seem to have proliferated since, well, around about the time we started doing this sort of thing, now that I think of it.  But sometimes policy takes you to places where red in tooth and claw is the fashion, so when in Rome and all that.  There is a lot of that going around, as we’ve spent the last 8 years getting ourselves balls-deep in some of the most God-forsaken hellholes any god could ever hope to forsake.  Reason #2,933 to get the fuck out.

… y cant greenwald reed?

… and so it begins.