President Obama taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago, a premier law school in the Hyde Park area of Chicago. On “60 Minutes” on Sunday May 8, 2011, he gratuitously offered extraneous to a specific question the observation that those who criticised the home invasion and killing of Usama Bin Laden in his bedroom “should have their heads examined.”
The president believes those who disssent from this assassination are psychologically challenged and in need of therapy. I am struck by the transition of a Harvard-trained lawyer, a community organiser and a law professor into this type of legal debauchery. The Constitution of the United States requires that legal processes be enacted prior to the determination of guilt. Since we cast our “city on a hill” as a paragon of planetary morality, we should apply our own judicial principles in a more universalist manner. The presumption of innocence, while somewhat unique to American law, is nevertheless an overriding principle. If Usama Bin Laden were guilty of the crimes committed in New York on September 11, 2001, he should be allowed the right of counsel and the full panoply of America’s legal system. No individual regardless of their alleged crimes or global status should be excluded by the rule of law particularly when under U.S. control!
After World War II, we established the show trials at Nuremberg, Germany. They were seriously flawed and remarkably excluded the American and British war criminals who implemented strategic bombing and the use of atomic weapons for the purpose of genocide and specific geopolitical advantages through terror. While the Nuremberg show trials were ex post facto and invented law that did not exist prior to the actions of Germany during the war, nevertheless, they were intended to establish principles and a record of war crimes that would instruct and educate a global audience. The Obama administration’s decision to invade Pakistan and kill a man in his pajamas is an extra-judicial action that is contemptuous of the nation’s juridical traditions and intended to show the world America will get you and hunt you down. What a nation, what a level of criminal violence we have embraced!
Why would one need “to have their head examined” for dissenting from this barbarism? Why is it irrational to demand that America be truly strong, vital and trustworthy of its own institutions. The law of the jungle may get votes and another four years as president in a mansion far more luxurious that the semi-Bin Laden prison, but it won’t advance the cause of peace and justice. Rendering ture justice is NOT revenge killing with an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Justice means process, the rule of law and the determination of guilt or innocence based on evidentiary proceedings. Our contempt for the slow, plodding nature of the legal system and the desire to convict and sentence outside of juridical processes such as a trial is exactly what the lynchings under Jim Crow did. Have we advanced no further advanced than the Jim Crow era in our administration of justice?
President Obama is incapable of resisting those within his adminstration that advocated such an act as the vigilante raid in Abbottabad. He has in a relatively brief period of two and a half years become coopted by the imperial, nationalistic ethos of the beltway. Recall that by nature this is the most progressive president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and he is already adopting a Bill Clinton Democratic roadmap of militant-centrism without ethical compass. Shame on him and his “60 Minutes” interview where all he could opine when asked his feelings after seeing an image of a human being shot dead by American thugs in front of his wife in their bedroom: “It was him.”