Obama ducks a drone hearing!

(a video from the Bureau For Investigative Journalism’s ‘Naming the Dead‘ project )

Thanks to the Huffington Post, we’ve learned that officials from the Obama Administration decided to skip Tuesday’s Senate hearing on the Drone Strike program and targeted killing.

“I am disappointed that the administration declined to provide witnesses to testify at today’s hearings,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill) said at the hearing, held before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights.

Senator Durbin–Obama didn’t need to go to the hearing. As a Harvard Law Review guy who studied Constitutional issues, he knows that the drone program is illegal under international law and therefore an impeachable offense. In the early years of our ‘war on terror’, W and (during the first term) Obama got a by from the United Nations even though attacks on civilians in a country we aren’t at war with are a violation of numerous parts of the UN Charter (along with other treaties we’ve signed). The UN was willing to accept the idea that stateless terrorists were not entitled to the same protections as ordinary residents. But as more news is uncovered about the targets and their increasingly tenuous connections to terror groups, the legality is coming into question.

And as for Rand Paul’s concerns about use of drones on American soil, that is settled law. The Supreme Court ruled in Hamdi Vs Rumsfeld that US Citizens–even those identified as ‘enemy combatants’–were entitled to due process. Somebody’s going to bring such a case back to the Supremes again, and my suspicion is that it won’t turn out well for the administration.

I don’t know how this will turn out. If the UN determines the drones to be illegal, Obama has violated the Supremacy clause by abrogating ratified treaties–an impeachable offense. And one US group, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, has already issued a war crimes indictment based on the applicable laws. It’s not a good sign that Peter Maurer, the head of the International Committee for the Red Cross, met with Obama last week to discuss the Red Cross’ concerns about the drones.

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