Jim Webb: We Are Endorsing Assassination of Leaders of Countries We Recognize

I’m watching the Senate Foreign Relation Committee’s grilling of Harold Koh–either bmaz or I will post on that later.

But Jim Webb just made a really important point. He noted that we have suspended, but not severed, our relations with Libya. After cornering Koh on that issue (and finally getting Koh to acknowledge that point), Webb then asked “What is the constitutional limitation on the assassination of a head of state?” Koh replied that the ban on assassinations is an Executive Order, not a law (a point I make all the time, given that it means the ban can be pixie dusted at will by Presidents).

Webb then said that Nobody up here wants Qaddafi to remain. But moral standard we set is one we should expect.

In other words, Webb notes, if we actively work to assassinate the leader of a country we recognize, we are implicitly endorsing such actions against us.

Silly Webb doesn’t get yet that the US operates under one giant double standard, I guess.

23 replies
  1. harpie says:

    Yes, such a naive Senator!

    Webb’s questioning of Koh was very good, imo.

    I’m looking forward to hearing Louis Fisher, later.

  2. klynn says:

    Silly Webb doesn’t get yet that the US operates under one giant double standard, I guess.

    That double standard is as much created by Congressional failures as it is EO pixie dust. And Repugs pretty much handed Bush all kinds of options to operate under this double standard which have been past on to O. I make no excuses for O. Both the Exec and Congress are at fault here.

    They should have called Richard F. Grimmett. He is the historical expert on the Congressional-Exec controversies IRT WPR which spans over 30 years of Congress-Exec controversies with a great deal of evidence of Congress dropping the ball.

  3. JohnLopresti says:

    Thanx for link to Elsea and Grimmett, Congressional Research Service, history of declarations of war, and authorizations to use military force, as well as other permutations of executive-legislative conjoint resolutions to engage in hostilities or to be prepared to do that. The passage about the morphing of Reagan*s Beirut deployment and congress* interest in invoking the War Powers Resolution in that matter, was interesting, eventuating in a context which, I believe, might resemble the current state of thinking about the Nato pact. The Beirut material may be seen @p.16 ibid. Interestingly, the CRS document*s discussion @p.40, concerning US statutory and international conventions protections for a **Chief of State or the political equivalent** putatively could be part of deliberations in a situation such as the ICC*s issuance yesterday of an arrest warrant for 3 notables connected to Libya. To me, the Elsea + Grimmett March 17, 2011 report (112pp in all) is fairly explicit about the segment of international law and US government warmaking to which it confines its study, footnoting out to other reference tomes for coverage of the political and rhetorical as contrasted with the documented legal part of US warmaking historically. Further confining the discussion in Elsea + Grimmett, in my view, are minutiae easily surfaced by a hasty wordsearch; E+G cover affairs like Vietnam, providing standard renditions of interactions in Tonkin, e.g., but looking for any occurrence of the words Laos, Cambodia, or even Laden, yields no mentions of those initiatives. I think that is the partisan ground upon which Webb trod, consciously, while grilling dean Koh. This nonfinding with a searchengine might be similar to the doublestandard concept empotywheel*s post invokes; yet, reading the succinct cameos in E+G helps clarify the tendency for warmaking to be an amorphous process rife with inaccuracies and subtleties. The linked Sky article about the arrest warrant formal document delves into such territory with respect to one of the named individuals.

  4. rmwarnick says:

    American Exceptionalism (neocon definition): The USA makes the rules, we don’t live by them– international law is for lesser countries.

    • marymccurnin says:

      American Exceptionalism (neocon definition): The USA makes the rules, we don’t live by them– international law is for lesser countries.

      Isn’t that the similar to IOKIYAR? Or “Its Ok If You Are A Right Wing Christian Cause Gawd Will Forgive You?” Or “Its Ok If You Are A Conservative State Supreme Court Justice”? I could go on.

  5. RAMA says:

    So what? We’ve already endorsed torture and murder of prisoners under our control, violating Constitutional restrictions on unreasonable searches and seizures, and illegally invading countries where we figure the leaders have looked at us cross-eyed. What’s one more atrocity?

  6. JamesJoyce says:

    Double standards go back a long way in America. “All Men are created equal?” Unless you are of a different skin color, you and considered property? Or a woman who could not vote or own property? Yes we know these double standards. The Bills of Rights is shit paper, to many of these folks who have plenty of money to mitigate, using the color of law, the supreme law of the land.

  7. 4cdave says:

    It would be simply unforgivable to assassinate a Leader that we take exception to. Instead, we should wage war against them, kill tens of thousands (whose lives mean nothing because they are not Leaders), and hope we can find the Leader hiding in a bunker and arrest him, give him a kangaroo military tribunal, and hang him. That would be all civilized.

  8. donbacon says:

    Bravo 4cdave.

    The purpose of a declaration of war is to recognize that because the country has been attacked, a state of war exists. That was the basic intent of the War Powers Resolutions also, to provide a remedy for a lack of time to respond to an attack.

    The purpose in any case is NOT to conduct an elective war on a country that has not attacked the U.S., and using a world organization controlled by the U.S. (UN & NATO) as a cover doesn’t magically make it constitutional or morally correct.

  9. donbacon says:

    Good for Senator Webb, but be cautious with him (as with any politician).

    Virginia Sen. Jim Webb on “Meet the Press ” Sunday:

    “. . .And most importantly, because this is something that does not get discussed, as we have focused for the last 10 years on this part of the world [ME], our situation in East Asia with respect to China and China’s expansionist military activities has deteriorated. We are at a point in the South China Sea right now where we are approaching a Munich moment with China, and it’s not being discussed.”

    He’s advocating war with China over the South China Sea, which SecState Clinton (family friend?) has declared is in our national interest?

    • CTuttle says:

      The Spratly Islands, which only has armed forces from a slew of countries, and has large confirmed amounts of Oil beneath them, China is really extending their ‘Territorial Waters’ rights, well beyond the 200 miles accorded under International laws…! PI has the most valid claim, with Vietnam, and others in the mix…! A real Tinderbox…! 8-(

  10. rjrnab says:

    Don’t forget Ngo Dinh Diem, JFK was so sad. And the Monks couldn’t have put it any better. That’s what we get for helping Michelin Tire in South Vietnam. Oh boo hoo, and who cares what John Adams really meant in the Monroe Doctrine when you train South American Leaders right in your own backyard to be little Eric Princes.

  11. dylanh says:

    I’m not understanding the difficulty of the distinction here. To argue that we ‘recognize’ Libya is absurd. We recognize that the Libyan people have (a) the right to self-determination and (b) fundamental human rights that no government can violate.

    The United States does not recognize the government of Libya. We have _obviously_ severed relations with Libya. It’s the Libyan people we haven’t severed relations with.

    Jim Webb is clearly stuck in the Cold War understanding of what sovereignty and the nation-state are. And to suggest that targeting Qaddafi is endorsing the targeting of Obama is as absurd as saying that blowing up al-Qaeda compounds is endorsing blowing up the White House.

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