Mixed signals: Five ‘high risk’ terrorists go free while Obama claims authority to assassinate Americans

Let’s get this straight. President Barack Obama can “legally” kill an American citizen who is merely suspected of terrorist activity, ignoring the constitutional rights of due process and trial by jury, while at the same time trade five terrorists for an American soldier who deserted his unit?

That’s not necessarily how President Obama or any of his apologists would put it, but that’s exactly the message his administration has sent.

The Justice Department penned a memo for the White House in 2010 making the legal case for the targeted assassination of American citizens accused of terrorist ties. Anwar al-Awlaki is the only American citizen to have been specifically targeted, but three others have been killed, including al-Awlaki’s innocent, 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman.

The U.S. Senate recently confirmed the author of that memo, David Barron, to serve on the First District Court of Appeals.

The release of five senior Taliban officials in return for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, an American soldier who reportedly wrote in an email to his parents that he was “ashamed” to be an American and is accused of deserting his unit, is somewhat odd when looking at the extraordinary, extrajudicial actions President Obama has taken over the last few years.

To make it even more puzzling, President Obama acknowledged this morning that the Taliban officials the administration handed over to Qatar could return to terrorism after a year-long stay.

“In terms of potential threats, the release of the Taliban who were being held in Guantanamo was conditioned on the Qataris keeping eyes on them and creating a structure in which we can monitor their activities,” President Obama told reporters. ”We’ll be keeping eyes on them.”

“Is there the possibility of some of them trying to return to activities that are detrimental to us? Absolutely. That’s been true of all prisoners that were released from Guantanamo Bay. There is a certain recidivism rate that takes place,” he added.

Well, that’s comforting.

It’s even more comforting when you learn more about who these five officials are. Two of them — Mohammad Fazl and Norullah Noori — are wanted by the United Nations for war crimes. All five were labeled as “high risk,” meaning that they’re “likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests and allies.”

The merits of closing the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay and trying these terrorists in civilian courts are worth debating, perhaps even preferable, given that the prison is become a recruiting tool for terrorists.

But it just seems incoherent that the administration collateralized five Taliban officials whom we know have helped al-Qaeda, killed innocent people, and are deemed “high risk” to the US while claiming the unconstitutional authority to kill Americans.

The worst of the worst from the Taliban will be released, but Americans accused of terrorism will be executed via a drone strike. No due process. No trial. No jury. Like the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland — “Sentence first! Verdict afterwards”

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