The Law of War and Citizenship

Obama lawyers: Citizens targeted if at war with US I have to say that I agree with this decision 100%, I actually can’t believe that the issue was raised seriously. There are actually at least three sets of laws operative in the world for Americans, 1. Regular American civil and criminal law, 2. The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) for military personnel, and 3. The International Laws of Land Warfare. I am no lawyer but I will take a stab at analyzing how this works and why I think the Administration’s decision is the correct one.

As I understand it, as soon as someone places themselves in a state of rebellion or conflict with the US government they are outside the bounds of regular criminal law and instead fall under the constitutional clause about Treason, by the way, the only crime specifically addressed in the constitution. People who have earned an online JD degree will know this section well. Article 3, Section 3 covers treason, it follows:

Section 3 – Treason Note

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

However, to bring someone before a court means that some method of apprehension must exist. I would further say that any such method must be reasonable, it is not reasonable to expect a person ensconced in an enemy or unfriendly territory to be simply arrested and extradited to the US.

This further begs the question of whether someone engaged in active rebellion or hostilities against the USA even maintains their Constitutional rights? Why would would someone attempting to harm or overthrow the existing government even be afforded the protections offered by that government and its constitution? I would submit that they should not. Just as someone must forfeit their US citizenship if they naturalize in another country, someone in rebellion forfeits their citizenship as well. During the Civil War southerners were tried by military courts without receiving the benefits of Constitutional rights. How is today any different?

In conclusion, the Obama administration has made the correct call in deciding that US Citizens enjoy no special protections when engaged in hostile acts against the US or its citizens. They are combatants and should be treated and targeted, exactly the same as are non-citizens.