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Codifying the Arbitrary Executive

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Since I certainly don’t believe in any policy of avoiding criticism of the Obama administration during the campaign*, I have some thoughts about Greg Miller’s reporting on the disposition matrix. I particularly want to emphasize that even if we stipulate that the AUMF provides legal cover for the program, systematic arbitrary killings on this scale and with this lack of transparency remains terrible (and almost certainly counterproductive) public policy. And as the fact that there’s no chance that the AUMF will be ended anytime soon indicates, the problem is much deeper than any individual administration. There’s no usurpation of congressional power per se; this, alas, is how Congress, regardless of the partisan configuration, wants it.

*I, of course, endorse our policy of opposing bad critiques from the nominal left. But whether it’s “let us seriously consider the thoughts of a conservative making a silly argument that we should be indifferent about the outcome of the election” or — even worse — “Obama has betrayed me on the most important issue of our time, the excessive use of scripted zingers,” these arguments would be equally bad the day after the campaign ended.

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