secret law

I never heard of the term “secret law” until I read this lengthy evisceration of the Obama administration arising from the administration’s use of drones, but whose implications extend far beyond drones.

Secret law means something very bad indeed; in this case it refers to legal documents prepared by the administration that supposedly spell out the legal authority the President has for authorizing the killing of American citizens.

More broadly, it means there are two sets of rules – the ones we think the government follows, and the ones the government actually follows.

The takeaway from Greenwald’s piece:

The reason this matters so much has nothing to do with whether you think Obama is preparing to start assassinating US citizens on US soil. That’s completely irrelevant to the question here. The reason this matters so much is because whatever presidential powers Obama establishes for himself become a permanent part of how the US government functions, and endures not only for the rest of his presidency but for subsequent ones as well.

The thing is, we should be past the point where terror of what happened on 9/11 blinds us to the bad things government does in our name. The momentum from that era should have been exhausted over the last decade. Instead, what we seem to have is a perpetual motion machine of the very worst kind, a machine that derives its energy from rules only it knows, a machine that resists all attempts to see its workings, a true black box.

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