Update: This post was published on February 15, 2013.
It's now clear beyond doubt that the Obama presidency has not only embraced but has grossly expanded the claims of lethal authority made by the Bush administration. Astute news-followers have known for years that Obama's assertion of the power to kill anyone who is "determined" to be a "threat" to American interests has been taken much further than even Bush and Cheney dared. Despite the President's effort to keep them secret, reports of Obama's "kill lists" surfaced in 2010, as have reports of at least two drone strikes on American citizens. And within the past few months there have been repeated references in the press to "terror Tuesday" meetings at the White House where the President's advisors gather to decide who deserves to die.
But now, after the Senate hearing on the nomination of John Brennan as CIA director and the release of a Justice Department "white paper" on the subject, it's starkly presented: This president claims the power to assassinate anyone, including Americans, whom he (or an "informed high-level official") – by exclusive executive decision – determines must die because they're part of a group that's an "imminent threat" to the United States.
So the question is, Where's the outrage? If Bush/Cheney had claimed such power, Democrats would be screaming from the rooftops words like "dictator," "Stalin," and, of course, "Hitler." But now that it's their man in the Oval Office we hear from them (with a few exceptions) a deafening silence. To call these Democrats hypocrites is to slur hypocrites.