There are a lot of people asking the question today “When can the President order the killing of an American citizen?” To answer that question let’s break it down and remove the word “when” and just ask “CAN a President order the killing of an American Citizen? The short, correct answer is “no” and the reasoning behind that answer is simple: The Constitution doesn’t grant that power to anyone or anything and that’s the way we should want it. The citizens among us who wish this power to be granted(1) and then used by the President cannot possibly have read 20th century history.
On 5 March, 1940 the Soviet Politburo heard a proposal by Stalin’s executioner Lavrently Beria(2) to execute all Polish military officers captured during the Soviet invasion of Poland. The Politburo, including Stalin and Beria voted unanimously to do this. In 1943, the invading Nazi Army discovered the mass graves of 4,443 Polish officers in the town of Katyn(3), where a memorial marks the spot of The Katyn Massacre today.
Katyn followed what’s known today as the Great Purge, another approved execution of an estimated 500,000 Soviet citizens(6), carried out by Stalin. Author Marshall Shatz(4) puts Stalin’s treachery in a context we can compare with today. “It is not merely the size of the Great Purge that makes it such a historical puzzle; however; but the fact that it took place in peacetime; in a society publicly and officially committed to rational values and the humanistic ideals of Marxism and the Russian revolutionary tradition.”(5)
Most Americans will say that “this is America and we’re Americans so things like Katyn could never happen here!” Ah yes, but that assumes that our easily corruptible leaders are never granted lethal powers they can abuse. This was the purpose of KY Senator Rand Paul’s recent “filibuster” in the U.S. Senate. Let us hope that the “4 alarm Liberty Bell” has been rung loud and been heard.