‘Extrajudicial Killing’

by Shannen W. Coffin

Kevin, I am puzzled by your position. The president has the authority, granted by Congress in 10 U.S.C. sections 331–335, to use the military to suppress armed insurrection and domestic violence that impairs public order. This obviously is an authority that any president is loath to exercise, but implicit (or perhaps explicit) in the authority is the power to kill Americans who have taken up arms against their country on American soil. No hearings, no Miranda, but suppression of the insurrection by military force. I would hope that we all can agree that this is a proper use of American force, on American soil, and one which George Washington, who presided over the troops at Valley Forge, claimed in suppressing the Whiskey Rebellion (which fortunately, did not end in violence). 

What is the difference between this and an American on foreign soil who incites terrorist acts against his country? Not one who simply preaches violences, but coordinates and schemes against his country? What am I missing here in your position? Surely you can’t suggest that it is unpatriotic or un-American to suggest that the use of force against those who conspire to attack the homeland is improper, simply because someone claims American citizenship? If that is the case, the president lacks all authority to protect against armed insurrection. (I see in your comment some distinction based on violence, but I’m not sure I get it.)

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