Eric Holder Tortures the Constitution

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder made the Constitution scream, in an effort to justify his president’s claim to “the power of life and death over any inhabitant of the planet, including citizens of the United States.” Discovering presidential powers never before revealed, Holder severed citizens’ rights to “due process” from the “judicial process.” Access to the courts is not required, when the president is judge, jury and executioner.

Eric Holder Tortures the Constitution

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The rule of law has been eviscerated, abolished by presidential decree and congressional acquiescence.”

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder this week attempted to explain how the U.S. Constitution allows the American president to be a law unto himself – to be judge, jury and executioner. Those are the powers that President Obama claims are inherent in his office: the right to kill at will, based on evidence only he is fit to examine and assess. This is a system of law without courts, without evidence that either the public or the condemned person has a right to see, or to contest. One man, with the power of life and death over any inhabitant of the planet, including citizens of the United States.

They used to call such people kings. But even the English kings of old – at least since the signing of the Magna Carta 800 years ago – were compelled to recognize the principle that free men could only be punished based on the law of the land. The United States Constitution is rooted in the principle of due process of law, with the courts as final arbiters of whether the law has been served.

With the passage of preventive detention without trail or charge, and President Obama’s claim to have sole power to target any human being for death, the rule of law has been eviscerated, abolished by presidential decree and congressional acquiescence. A pillar of civilization has been toppled, but most people in the United States appear not to have noticed.

Holder acted as if he’d found a previously undetected loophole in the Constitution.”

It turns out that due process of law is not what we thought it was, these last two centuries. Attorney General Holder defended the president’s authority to summarily execute, without sanction of the courts, or formal charges, or even evidence of crime, persons designated by him as enemies of the United States. You can’t get more king-like than that. Holder acted as if he’d found a previously undetected loophole in the Constitution. “‘Due process’ and ‘judicial process,’” he said, “are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security.” According to Holder, “The Constitution guarantees due process,” but it does not guarantee judicial process. In other words, the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee people access to the courts, even if they are targeted for execution. If that were true, it would be a worthless Constitution, but the U.S. Supreme Court has convincingly ruled, in a 2004 case, that citizens who are detained as enemy combatants have a right to confront the government on the facts of the matter “before a neutral decision maker” – that is, before a court of some kind. Certainly, such rights would apply to someone the president wants killed.

Ah, but this is war, says Eric Holder, and different rules apply. We could ask the rhetorical question: When does this war end? But Obama is clearly claiming to have rights that are inherent in the president’s national security powers. War is…whatever he says it is. Or, whatever President Romney or President Santorum say it is.

The Attorney General ultimately justifies the trashing of the Constitution on national security grounds. We have reached our national “hour of danger,” he says.

Holder is right about that. The danger is upon us, and it emanates from the White House. There’s a name for the danger: it's called fascism, which happens when militarists and the worst capitalists get together and abolish due process and the rule of law – which the First Black President of the United States has already done. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].



G.Ford, You are including E.Holder's assertion re "target-ed

killing" by U.S. gov't?  "Unlimited detetion" and the right of the gov't, he claims, to have a secret "hit list" of people the gov't says it's OK to kill, a secret lawyer authorization and he claims "it's not assassination" by gov't.  I like your using phrase, he found "a loophole in the U.S. Constitution".  Yes, one made with a hole punch, More on this later..

PS please put back, so it's easy to find, the mailing address to send a check or money order to BAR.

beverly: thank you; I did with new protest art

Thanks again for the address and confirmation that it's still the same.  My checks are small,as can, but I figure over a year they add up.

The democrats and

The democrats and progressives intent on supporting Barack Obama,{ no matter what assassination rights he takes as his own and all the civil rights he is taking from us,} would stand by as we anti war folks are rounded up and disappeared. This bill HR 347 that he quietly signed is another jackboot on our necks!. I wish that I might comprehend these so called "left" supporters of this maniac war criminal in the Whitehouse. Why are they giving him a pass on all this shit?  If it's the "lesser of 2 evils" argument, I am not buyin' it any longer.


Although it shouldn't, it continues to amaze me how deeply Westerners and their leaders claim to believe in the rule of law, fair play, the value of human life, and proof of guilt, that is, until such quaint notions get in the way of them playing power politics the way they wish too. Who decides when someone gets defined as a terrorist and gets placed on someone's classified, secret "watch' or "kill" lists? Americas ugly track record of selectively defining some people and some groups as evil and as criminal while ignoring or even celebrating the acts of others, should give any moral or rational person pause. For example, President Obama's hero, Ronald Reagan placed Nelson Mandela and the ANC on a terrorism watch list in the 1980's. They remained there until July 18, 2008, when President George W. Bush finally removed them from that list as a "birthday gift"  for Nelson Mandela. By that time, he  was a Nobel Prize winner and had long since retired as the first Black President of South Africa and the ANC was the elected government. In theory, during all of the years that the ANC and its members, followers and leaders were on that list, it was open season on them for Western hit squads. If our leaders really believe that they and alone can use Mafia tactics for geo polical advantage, they (and we) are in for a series of rude awakenings.

Why this G. Ford blog entry feels "personal"

I'm a student of Howard Zinn, not like Alice Walker, who had the professor Zinn in college and remained friends, but I first heard his work in middle age, listening to "Emanations", a collective,  on WBAI* with Bernard White and others, who were reading A People's History of the United States by Zinn weekly segments, over the air.

Zinn wrote You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train, his autobio, my favorite book of all books, published in two editions, Boston:Beacon Press.  The introduction, itself a lesson in how to work on social change, points out that any thing you do might have an effect on someone.

This week is the anniversary of my father's death,age 43, right after my 10th birthday, in a V.A. hospital, although he'd been mostly in V.A. hospitals throughout my childhood - some far away from where we lived in Bklyn, like FL. where it was warm and the hospital was segregated by color. (I have a photo of a hospital audience with him in his wheelchair in it.)  He had enlisted in WWII, like Zinn.  Zinn had been 18, but my dad had been older, a dad, and needed my mother's signature to enlist.  I didn't realize for decades, until during the Vietnam War protests why I was so against wars and why I feel involved in what my government is doing, allegedly "in my name". 

*Yes, I support  Bernard White, "fired and banned" and others, including the recently passed Louis Reyes Rivera were removed from the airwaves in the newest coup.