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the first detailed look at the criteria the Obama administration uses to judge if it can legally kill American citizens traveling abroad without the benefit of due process.

The Constitution is such an inconvenient thing: “The first detailed look at the criteria the Obama administration uses to judge if it can legally kill American citizens traveling abroad without the benefit of due process.”

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • Jim

    The left is disgracefully silent about this. You can bet if Bush did this they would be screaming. Unconstitutional indeed…at least in my opinion.

  • JGL

    I was choosing which was the most important news story of the morning and I had to choose between one of the top probable “republican”

    candidates (Chris Christy) in 2016 performing on the David Letterman Show by humiliating himself (humanizing himself ?) and eating a

    donut he pulled out of his jacket OR a story about how the Justice Dept. considers it now “legal” to target American citizens considered a

    threat, with drones within the United States OR this story about a simple school project in a 6th grade class room who’s goal is to design a

    new socialist / communist flag. And thats the one I chose, the school flag project.

    Hitler knew that it did not matter what the grown-ups thought in the 1930’s, he knew he possesed the minds of the young

    and could shape and fill them with his anti freedom and Nazi propaganda.

    But thats not what is going on in our country, right ?

    Texas Lesson Plan Instructs Students to Design Flags for a ‘New Socialist Nation’
    Feb. 4, 2013 2:29pmJason Howerton


    A curriculum system used across the state of Texas reportedly includes a lesson plan for 6th graders instructing students to create a flag for a “new socialist nation” using “symbolism to represent aspects of socialism/communism.”

    The following was taken from the CSCOPE curriculum lesson plan: “Notice socialist/communist nations use symbolism on their flags representing various aspects of their economic system. Imagine a new socialist nation is creating a flag and you have been put in charge of creating a flag. Use symbolism to represent aspects of socialism/communism on your flag. What kind of symbolism/colors would you use?”

  • Jim

    I must ask you, what is bothering you so much about that? Kids in school learn about different forms of government all the time, including socialism and communism. And they are given assignments during those courses, some involving some creativity. I remember during the height of the cold war my class had to create projects that demonstrated “communal” living in Russia. So what? I turned out OK (go easy on me here, everyone!).

    Anyway, I see how right wing media outlets have spread this story, and their outrage, all over…FOX, Drudge, and just about every single right wing site…its spreading like wild fire. Count me as one who thinks its just silly. Not even close to targeting American citizens for drone attacks. After all, the kids were free to demonstrate bad aspects of socialism and communism on their flags.

  • Chris Kirkendall

    Jim, by itself, it probably wouldn’t mean much, but we’ve seen the way many schools have shifted from teaching to indoctrination – so much of what kids learn today is colored by PC-type stuff that has no place in the classroom. There was a news item recently about a Black kid who killed some white folks because he’d been taught – I’m not kidding – that any crime against Whites was reparation for crimes committed against Blacks 150 yrs ago under slavery. Kids are being taught that Global Warming is real and Man-made, the “Science is settled”, and it’s going to destroy the planet, when the bulk of the untainted evidence suggests otherwise, or at the very least is highly questionable.

    There is a definite Left-Wing tilt to much of what is being taught (no coincidence the Teachers Unions heavily support Obama), so when we see a story like the one about kids designing a flag for a new Socialist/Communist nation, it gets our attention. Now this particular instance may in fact be innocent, but some of us are sick & tired of kids being fed crap propaganda in the classroom, while at the same time, they are NOT learning Math or Reading skills. Every year our kids fall further behind other industrialized nations & instead, we spend time teaching them feel-good nonsense or indoctrinating them with leftist political garbage…

  • Regarding the schools and what should be taught – how about early American history and how our republic was established, what events led to the break with Britain? If socialism is being taught in our schools, it should be taught completely – that is, how it falls short to deliver on prosperity and innovation, and how it enslaves people into mediocrity.

    Regarding the 3-point test put forward by the Obama administration: it’s unconstitutional (Due Process Clause, Amendments 5 and 14). Period. I find it insulting that the article references the laws of war governing the use of force. The Geneva Convention is clear on this matter: only uniformed combatants are subject to the laws of war, otherwise domestic law governs.

    What is shocking is that, ‘a high-level American intelligence official has determined the individual poses an imminent threat..’ is one of the three point test criteria. There’s no judge, jury, or trial. A high level official determines you are a threat, you cannot be captured, and you can be killed according to the laws of war governing force. The irony is it’s those laws which protect civilians and wounded personnel, not spell out how civilian terrorists can be killed.

    When I was in Afghanistan, with ISAF, we had the rules of engagement, where we were only authorized to use deadly force if a civilian or fellow coalition member were in imminent danger of harm (i. e. a weapon pointed at you or someone else). Blowing up a terrorist in a moving vehicle or house would be illegal, if performed by ISAF members, and you can bet your last dollar, American military personnel would face trial, in such a scenario.

    To kill Americans without trial is a whole other moral and constitutional problem, that now the current administration (our elected government) feels it needs to justify, while simultaneously trying to release Guantanamo Bay prisoners back into the world for another shot at Americans and their allies. A real backward and twisted logic. In this new world, down is up, and up is down.

  • wodun

    You guys know what Americans were killed by drones? I could see there being more checks in the process and approval by congress and I am worried about how this can be misused by other presidents but those guys deserved to die.

    There should be some hypocrisy coverage of this because Obama has pretty much kept in place and expanded all of Bush’s terrorism policies. It pretty much shows that the opposition during the Bush years was more about gaining political power than ideals. Which is pretty bad considering the damage the left did to our country during those years.

  • JGL

    I will quote two people to answer you, one alive and one dead.

    1st Bill Ayers: teacher, professor, domestic terrorist, socialist, Marxist:

    ” But low and behold, we now have absolute access to the community, the school, the neighborhood, the street, the classroom, the work place, the shop, the farm- why are we ignoring that and saying “I hope Obama makes peace”.
    Forget about it. He’s not going to do anything if you don’t do anything. Our job is movement building”


    2nd Adolph Hitler: “Christian” / phillosipher / dictator / almost ruler of the world:

    “How fortunate for the governments that the people they administer don’t think”


    “make the lie big, simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it”

    and finally, he said basically when he heard that the people were not happy with his policies,

    that “it did not matter”, I have their children and they will learn what it is that we teach.

    (I para phrase here.)

  • JGL

    “those guys deserved to die”

    That is a subjective judgment, should American citizens be subject to subjective judgment?

    By who, the president?

    The attorney general?

    Within American borders or outside?

    These are slippery slope issues, its suppose to be government of the people, by the people,

    for the people, not of the government by the government for the government.

    What is our country / Constitution being turned into?

  • Pzatchok

    I do not agree with this Drone killing action, whether its American citizens or not. But especially American citizens.

    In my opinion if you know were the guy is to kill him and you have the evidence needed to call for his death them just capture him and try him.
    Its not like we couldn’t have done the same with OBL and just missile hit him. We sent a team in to get him in order to prove we got him, Then they disposed of the body and never released pictures. Basically they removed the reason/evidence that we got him.

    Now onto Americans.
    If they are American then they deserve a trial.
    If you know were they are in order to missile them then just capture them and send them to trial. The ONLY reason to not to this is if you have no way to send in a team. Such as the targets host nation is granting him asylum and refusing us entrance or fly over permission.Then you hold a trial in abstentia(sp?) and only if found guilty do you send in the missiles. They are still American citizens and thus require trials of some sort.

    Now if you have proof that they have given up American citizenship legally(how to do this explained in law) or have taken an oath to an organization at war with America then treat them as foreign combatants.
    Declare and give some little proof they are combatants at war with the US and just blow them up. No big deal. Just make sure we are also at a declared war with his new nation first.

    Quit circumventing established international protocols and procedures for the capture and extradition of criminals.

    The more this is done the more the line between simple criminal and solder is blurred. We do not want some nation in the future blowing up some American house because they found a US solder visiting his family in it.

    We know they are trying to take out terrorists but there are steps to go through to prove they are criminals in a semi organized group actively working against the US. And thus terrorists.
    If they have a leader who is willing to negotiate and they all have a uniform of sorts then they are called an army. And thus the rules of war apply.

    We need to work out a real definition of a terrorist group and an army.
    We need to work out a procedure for extradition with every nation in the UN.

    If the US keeps using missiles to take out people around the world on the flimsy excuse they didn’t have the ability to get to them to capture them then whats to stop them from using that very same excuse on US citizens on US soil?
    An arbitrary definition of a terrorist leaves them the ability to change it at any time to suite their needs.
    At any time someone who speaks out or organizes against the US government could in effect be declared a terrorist and thus subject to the same thing any terrorist is subject to. A good missiling up the backside.

  • wodun

    They had taken up arms against our country and were activly engaged in the war waged against us by militant Islamists. Are you familiar with the people who were killed? I am and followed them closely for years before they were executed.

    If you want some sort of process to try them in absentia, that’s fine. But that process needs to have one of the possible outcomes be death because these guys deserved to die.

    We are treading new waters, fighting a war against nationless groups who live in many different countries and sometimes act alone or in cooperation. We have both the need and right to self defense from these groups. How we do it, is something we will be debating for the next hundred years.

  • wodun

    It isn’t easy to, “just capture them.” They operate in countries where we have no military forces of note, with weak governments and security forces that don’t like us, and with their own top notch security details. An operation to capture them would require a significant military build up, it wouldn’t be knocking on a door and serving a warrant.

    In the case of the Americans that were killed, they were imporant figures in AQ. Do a little research on their time here in America. The story behind these people is very interesting.

  • Pzatchok

    Their isn’t a spot on this planet that can not be reached by US forces inside of 24 hours.

    Unless all the nations around the one we want to fly into refuse us access.

    Or the nation we want to fly into is just to big.

    Or the nation we want to fly into has the will and ability to try to stop us.
    How many nations in this world have both the ability to stop us and the will to do it and at the same time do not have the ability to extract the target themselves? I can not think of any.

    The only nations that can stop us have the ability to capture and extradite the target themselves. They just want evidence of his guilt. Or they are harboring him.

    The only reason we can not reach every point on this planet with the forces needed to extract one person is the fact that we have not yet prepositioned the correct forces to do it. With inflight refueling we have the ability to fly at least 1000 miles ,one way, from any base on the planet. With that ability where on this planet can we not reach?

    Quit giving them excuses and approval to go around the legal systems we already have in place. Otherwise they will some just use the excuse they didn’t have a police officer available to arrest you so they just blew you up.

  • Jim

    You are absolutely right. The Americans who were killed might have been Americans, but they were also enemies. American citizens are killed everyday in this country without any due process (suspected criminals)…and why?…because they are presumed to be threats. I think the problem is going forward. Could this be justification to do something worse to Americans…and I do not know the answer to that. So I do think it deserves a conversation in this country. And any question of constitutionality should get addressed and put to bed.

    As far as the “ethics” of drones, I find that whole discussion ridiculous. Do they kill the innocent? Yes. But since when has that been a problem? When we bombed Hiroshima, many innocent people died. In fact, any who have read Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse 5” know that when we fire bombed Dresden, we probably knew American prisoners of war were there (like Mr. Vonnegut). I was listening to a discussion this morning, and one constitutional expert said that the whole thing might get challenged, but courts usually defer to the President in keeping the country safe. He said the one thing that the memo leaves to far open is when they claim the President is keeping the country safe from “imminent threat,” but then define “imminent” so broadly that it could mean anything.

  • JGL

    When an individual (the president or any politician or beauracrat) can arbitrarily determine who is

    an enemy and who is not and who will live and who will die at the press of a button, and that

    judgment is free of the application of established law that is highly subjective.

    The Constitution is an objectively written document, meaning that it is an unemotional document

    free of personal, subjective perspective. It is based on logic, recognition of natural laws and the

    understanding of human nature.

    When politicians reinterpret existing law or create new law related to new technology we are on

    the slippery slope and we need to recognize that fact.

    And keep in mind I have no problem with a decision being made related to a citizen or former

    citizen who has renounced his or her alleigiences who is determined to be a threat by his or her

    own declarations.

    But we must recognize where we and our Constitution stand related to it.

    At what point might the president determine that you or me or R. Zimmerman is a “threat” ?

    Human beings= subjective, Constitution= objective.

  • Garry

    I have a lot to say about this, but I’ll keep it to the most basic aspect that bothers me: we are a nation of laws, not men, and this policy seems to leave too much discretion in the hands of one or a few men.

    The genius of the founding fathers was their understanding of human nature, and their devising of a system (checks & balances, etc.) that takes the pitfalls of human nature into account. To me, this is the truly revolutionary aspect of our form of government.

    This policy and the curent debate over the second amendment are but the latest examples of politicians of both parties looking at the current situation only while creeping away from our fundamantal principles, neglecting the checks and balances between the people, the different levels of government, and the branches of government.

  • wodun

    If you bothered to read the statement released by the administration, there were a

    lot of qualifiers that had to be met before a citizen could be killed by drone.

    The fear that this precident would be used here at home against political opponents

    seems overblown.

    For one thing, on our own soil we have massive security apparatuses that could be used to aprehend someone or as we already see daily with police, to kill someone.

    Also, the people who were killed did not renounce their citizenship. Why would you expect people who want to see you, me, and all other Americans dead, enslaved, or forced muslim to renounce their citizenship? Shouldn’t being leaders of AQ be enough for us to treat them they same way we treat AQ in any other country?

    I agree that we need to establish a legal framework but the default position can not be that we can not kills Americans who are leaders in organizations that are at war with our country.

  • Pzatchok

    Abdulrahman al-Awlaki

    I know who this kids father was and the fact he was sitting next to the real target of the drone strike.

    But since we have a a few bases in the nations around Yemen we should have been able to grab the guy without causing collateral damage.

    And talking about collateral damage…

    If Bush had proposed trial-less assassinations and then proposed drone flights over US soil the left would be screaming about it like the world was ending. It would have gotten more press time than The Patriot Act did.

  • Steve C

    Just a story from the past. At one point, while the Indiana State Police were pursuing John Dillinger, they put an officer with a shotgun in Dillinger’s hotel room with orders to shoot him when he came in the door. Not arrest, shoot. No one saw anything wrong with that although it proved unwise. The officer almost blew away his chief when he came to relieve him.

    My self, I don’t have a problem with killing American citizens who declare themselves enemy in a conflict. I’m sure there were Wehrmacht soldiers with American citizenship. Don’t sort em, shoot em. If your hart is tender, have the President issue a death warrant and if they turn themselves into the nearest consulate is 30 days, they get a trial. Otherwise, they get a Hellfire.

  • What Garry says is exactly the problem. Politicians of both parties ignore the Constitution. The Constitution is there to protect the average guys and gals out there who don’t have drones or anyway to legally defend themselves. We should make every effort to capture, put to trial, and punish terrorists wherever they are. The rules exist due to the tendency of powerful officials to overstep their legal powers. Either the rules apply to all, or to none. We have a sailors creed in the US Navy, part of which says,’…I am committed to excellence and the fair treatment of all.’ Why cannot the executive branch live up to the standards of the Consitution and the sailors it leads?

  • Hey was that 16 year old kid “collateral damage”? Was he a threat? Someone in the news should have asked. I guess if I lies my job I can consider getting paid for coming up with questions for Barry since those dim wits can’t.

  • Pzatchok

    The administration said “Well his father shouldn’t have become a terrorist then.”

    He was collateral damage along with several others sitting at the same cafe that day.

    We have bases within a few hundred miles of him and a government willing to let us capture him at the time. They were at least willing to let us blow him up along with several of their own people.
    And now Yemen is falling into the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood rebels and we are doing nothing to stop it.
    Sort of like this administration didn’t care what the real and long term outcome of their actions would be. Almost like they planned for a governmental change to radical Islam.

    I wonder who is working to bring about that Islamic spring we keep hearing about.

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