Michael Tomasky: …. I’ve now read the DoJ white paper that justifies the killing of US citizens. It’s certainly not something that makes the breast swell with pride. But it does make me wonder what I would do in this situation, and I can’t honestly come up with easy answers. While I don’t condone what the Obama administration is doing here, I’m also suspicious of high-horse denunciations, because I think the question of whether an American forfeits his due process rights when he joins an enemy army is a complicated one.
…. There’s no doubt that a sentence like “the president has the power to order the assassination of American citizens” sounds positively despotic. However, these are people who have gone off and joined Al Qaeda. If an American citizen of German descent had gone back to heimat Germany in 1934 and joined the Nazi Party and worked his way up such that he was involved in the plotting of attacks against American soldiers, and Roosevelt had order him killed, no one would have batted an eye in 1940s America…..
… I’ve never been a hard-line civil libertarian. My civic-republican instincts cut against that, because I feel that citizenship confers not just rights but responsibilities….. There’s always the possibility of the case where we might find out too late, and a large number of Americans could die. Presidents live with that responsibility every day. If that responsibility were mine, I can’t honestly say what I’d do, and I don’t think anyone can.