Unconstitutional Killings

Andrew Napolitano criticizes President Biden for continuing the use of lethal military force in foreign affairs, arguing it violates constitutional prohibitions against taking life without due process. He admonishes the increasing precedent and political maneuvering that facilitates this, including actions by Presidents Bush and Obama.

By Andrew P. Napolitano


The Biden administration is killing people, openly in Ukraine and Gaza and secretly around the world. It has continued to use the killing machinery crafted by President George W. Bush, expanded by President Barack Obama and employed by President Donald Trump. These presidents have used drones and other unmanned projectiles to target persons in foreign countries with which the United States is not at war.

They have done this notwithstanding the prohibition against taking life, liberty or property from any person — not just any American, but any person — in the Constitution each has sworn to uphold, and they have done so pursuant to secret rules that they themselves have established for these killings.

Last year, 11 senators and 39 members of the House of Representatives sent a harshly worded letter to President Joe Biden asking him to stop the secret, but not the public, killings. As of this writing, he has not publicly replied.

Here is the backstory.

The purpose of the Bill of Rights — the first 10 amendments to the Constitution — is to protect personal liberty by restraining the government.

The Fifth Amendment prohibits killing persons, restraining liberty and taking property without due process; that means a jury trial at which the government must prove criminal behavior or fault, depending upon its goal.

If the country is at war — lawfully and constitutionally declared by Congress — obviously the president can use the U.S. military to kill the military of the opposing country. And if an attack on the U.S. is imminent, the president can strike the first blow against the military of the entity whose attack is just about to occur.

There are no other constitutional circumstances under which a president may kill.

Click Here ToGet Our FREE Newsletter No Advertising – No Government Grants – This Is Independent Media

When President Harry Truman targeted Japanese civilians as the Japanese government was within days of surrendering in World War II, he murdered them. Notwithstanding his unprosecuted war crimes, and with the government’s version of Pearl Harbor still fresh in many Americans’ minds, Truman was regarded as heroic for using nuclear bombs to cause the profoundly immoral, militarily useless and plainly criminal mass killings of the hated Japanese.

Fast-forward to the 9/11 era, and Bush had precedent to begin his own presidential killings of people the government wanted Americans to hate. While Congress did authorize him to use force against those who caused or aided the 9/11 attacks, we all know that his thirst for Middle Eastern blood knew no regard for the Constitution, evidence, proportionality, civilian lives, morality or human decency. Thus, $3 trillion spent and 1 million dead in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Julian Assange sits in a British dungeon awaiting decisions on his extradition to the U.S. because he courageously, lawfully and constitutionally published documents and videos demonstrating conclusively that Bush’s use of drones targeted and murdered Afghan and Iraqi civilians, and his administration covered it up.

Obama took this to another level when he targeted and killed Anwar al-Awlaki, who was born in the U.S. Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder, advised Obama that the killing was lawful, as al-Awlaki had encouraged folks in the Middle East to fight against American soldiers there. Holder likened killing al-Awlaki to police shooting at a bank robber whom they are chasing while he is shooting at them.

Holder forgot that al-Awlaki was unarmed, was not charged or indicted for any crime, was never accused of violence, and was not even the subject of an arrest warrant when a drone evaporated him while sitting at an outdoor cafe in Yemen.

The exercise of power by the federal government is largely based on precedent and politics. Whenever a president wants to kill, he need only find an example of a predecessor having killed with impunity — without due process, without a declaration of war and without an imminent attack. And then he needs only to calculate what he thinks he can politically get away with.

Joe Biden — whose drones in 2021 destroyed a dam in Syria, killing thousands, and who targeted civilians in Afghanistan, killing dozens, and whose shipments of guns to Ukraine and Israel are killing tens of thousands of folks he wants us to hate — is using unlawful powers that his modern predecessors used and got away with to target and kill unsympathetic persons. But the U.S. has not declared war on Russia or Gaza.

The nature of political power is to expand so that it fills a perceived need, unless there are mechanisms in place to restrain its expansion.

The founding generation believed that British monarchs had no limits on their powers and that was a good enough reason for the 13 colonies to secede violently. They also believed that they had crafted the Constitution and the Bill of Rights to impose sufficient restraints on the federal government. And they believed that the states could peacefully leave a federal government they had voluntarily joined when it exceeded its constitutional powers.

The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. Its language is clear that only Congress writes laws and declares war, and presidents can kill only troops in wartime or civilians consistent with due process.

Sadly, the Founders were wrong.

Every president takes an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution as it was written, not as he may wish it to be.

Yet, today, the president writes laws and rules that let him restrain personal liberty and kill with impunity, and Congress and the American people let him get away with it. Formally, we still have a Constitution. Functionally, it has utterly failed to restrain the government.

Ultimately, we have ourselves to blame for these killings and undeclared wars. Why do we repose the Constitution for safekeeping into the hands of those who subvert it? If a future president uses Bush’s lust and Obama’s logic and Biden’s hatreds to kill Americans in America, then no one’s life, liberty or property will be secure.

To learn more about Judge Andrew Napolitano, visit https://JudgeNap.com.

Click Here To Support Independent Media: People For Global Justice – Since 2001

Views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.





7 responses to “Unconstitutional Killings”

  1. paul edwards Avatar
    paul edwards

    America is the greatest criminal tyranny in history, run by sociopathic cyphers for its dirty, voracious Capitalist oligarchy and there is no remedy for it except failure and destruction.

  2. Mysputnik22 Avatar

    We live under Fascist rule far worse than that of Adolf Hitler and the German Nazis.” “Fascism continues where it was left in a different form serving those Anglo-Saxon regimes (owned by Jews) who used it very cleverly relying on the media and entertainment industry to normalize it and make it acceptable.”
    Today, the Western media are playing a key role in dehumanizing Arabs and the Palestinians in particular and normalizing the ongoing Genocide by Israeli Jews and their U.S.-Western supporters. The Israeli Nazis are specifically targeting Palestinian. American scholar Norman Finkelstein accurately said, Israel is worse than Nazi Germany and South Africa under Apartheid.

    1. Ricardo2000 Avatar

      George Orwell: “A people that elects corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors aren’t victims…but accomplices.”

      Tim Wise: “Here’s the reality. The image of a white Jesus has been used to justify enslavement, conquest, colonialism, the genocide of indigenous peoples. There are literally millions of human beings whose lives have been snuffed out by people who conquered under the banner of a white god.”

      Martin Jacques: “At the heart of globalization is a new kind of intolerance in the West towards other cultures, traditions and values, less brutal than in the era of colonialism, but more comprehensive and totalitarian.”

      F. Sionil Jose: “Colonialism subdues in many dulcet guises. It conquered under the pretext of spreading Christianity, civilization, law and order, to make the world safe for democracy.”

      Eduardo Galeano: “My great fear is that we are all suffering from amnesia. It’s not a person. It’s a system of power that is always deciding in the name of humanity who deserves to be remembered and who deserves to be forgotten.”

  3. Disadvantaged Avatar

    Regarding the article stating that every President has taken an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the U.S. Constitution, most Presidents were lying when they took that oath.

  4. Ricardo2000 Avatar

    H. L. Mencken (1880 – 1956): “As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents… the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

    The Mencken quotes are 100 years old. His “Declaration of Independence in American” is very funny. Mencken said it was written to educate Americans that obviously didn’t understand the original elegant 18th century English during President Wilson’s “Saturnalia of oppressions under the 1917 Sedition Act”.

    H. L. Mencken (1880 – 1956): “The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth.”

    Alexis de Tocqueville : “I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America.”

    Vladimir Putin: “If people in the media cannot decide whether they are in the business of reporting news or manufacturing propaganda, it is all the more important that the public understand that difference, and choose their news sources accordingly.”

    1. jatheist900 Avatar

      Vladimir Putin: “If people in the media cannot decide whether they are in the business of reporting news or manufacturing propaganda, it is all the more important that the public understand that difference, and choose their news sources accordingly.”….Good advice except they have a monopoly on all western msm. And while social media is an excellent alternative as a medium it is also filled with “News” that is either faulty or incomplete or is part of the circus. And that circus is spreading as widely as possible ‘news; that is in step with the lies and omissions oof the MSM. Personally I have great trust in the validity of Information Clearing House .

  5. Ricardo2000 Avatar

    Abraham Lincoln, “If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its authors.”

    Woodrow Wilson, 1915: “The trouble with the Republican Party is that it has not had a new idea for thirty years.”

    Was Mr. Napolitano ever a judge, or just a TV ‘personality’ acting like a judge?
    I don’t believe that there’s any provision for individual states to leave the Union. There’s only the right to demand consideration of redress of grievances, and the right to replace inadequate governments. This last is a dead letter as long as only 2 political parties compete with nearly identical platforms.

    George Washington, Farewell Address, 1796: “The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.”