Yesterday I wrote of murders and FBI agents how they are alleged to have participated in murders and have intentionally taken actions that have led to people being murdered. They continue to bring murderers into their boat to investigate others. I wonder whether FBI agents can be authorized to kill people on behalf of the government.
Our executive, which is led by the president, has the right to empower our military and civilian agencies to kill people. This is an inherent right in the ability to seek a declaration of war from Congress or to protect us when our country is under threat of attack. We’ve seen the power extended to include wars that have not been declared but in which our military becomes involved.
We see it today in the continual use of drones where we kill persons believed to be our enemies in the War on Terror, namely members of Al Qaeda and their associate organizations. The justification for these ongoing killings is put best by quoting Maud Gonne, the great Irish nationalist, who said: “I have always hated war and am by nature and philosophy a pacifist, but it is the English who are forcing war on us, and the first principle of war is to kill the enemy.”
We accept this because the executive has an obligation to defend the Constitution of the United States. A nation has a right to repel a threat to itself in the form of a deadly attack against it. This right is also given to the individual. It’s called justifiable homicide or self-defense.
This right of the military to kill is accepted during declared wars such as WWII, during semi-declared war as under the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and the Resolution against Al Qaeda, even to presidential decisions as we saw in Operation Urgent Fury. Non military assets such as the CIA have been used to arrange that people be killed. The CIA was used in the fifties in Iran to overthrow the Iranian government and install the Shah. It was used to overthrow the government of Guatemala. Under President Kennedy it was used to set up the Bay of Pigs invasion.
Evidence also shows that Kennedy authorized the coup which led to the 1963 murder of Ngo Dinh Diem in Vietnam. One advisor admitted to the Iran (he said Iraq) and South American coups by saying during a discussion of the coup against Diem: “I mean, it’s different from a coup in the Iraq or South American country; we are so intimately involved in this…” As to the CIA involvement, “The CIA also provided $42,000 in immediate support money to the plotters the morning of the coup” well before the Gulf of Tonkin resolution.
It is hard to justify the CIA’s actions in Iran, South America, and Vietnam as coming under the self-defense rationale. These were taken to advance what were believed to be American goals in the world.
The wars against drugs and Mafia very much involve the use of police forces. There have been killings in these wars and strange things have been done such as in Fast and Furious where high powerful guns were given to drug cartels which were used in killings.
The justification for giving the president the right to allow these things outside Congressional approval is set out in our Constitution under Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution: “The President … shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.” The right to pardon for crimes is the right to put some people above the law and allow people to commit crimes.
Alexander Hamilton, writing in Federalist No. 74, spoke to this power saying. “It is not to be doubted, that a single man of prudence and good sense is better fitted, in delicate conjunctures, to balance the motives which may plead for and against the remission of the punishment, than any numerous body [Congress] whatever, . . .”
Pardons forgive criminals of their offenses even if no charges have been brought as we saw in the case of Richard Nixon or even if the person was of the most disreputable character as Marc Rich or the pardons were purchased through in-laws of President Clinton such as those of Glen Braswell and Carlos Vignali.
President Obama allowed those who came before him in the Bush administration to be above the law with his pronouncement “we need to look forward and not back” effectively pardoning those prior actions.
The FBI in its COINTELPRO set the groundwork for many to be killed. At that time it was battling against the Communist Party, the New Left and persons considered black extremists. It ran from 1956 until it was discovered shortly before Hoover’s death. Although officially terminated, some allege it still continues. A federal jury found in 2002 the FBI violated the civil rights of Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney and awarded 4.4 million dollars in damage in a COINTELPRO type operation that took place in May, 1990. There was little national news coverage of this verdict. The Los Angeles Times spoke of it just this year 22 years later.
The FBI operates as part of the executive. The history of its actions and the lack of prosecution of FBI agents suggests that they operate under the president’s imprimatur which covers any untoward results such as murders that come about as part of the actions of the agents while doing the job they have been assigned to them. I’d have to believe they can be authorized to kill people.