While many people on the left, including President Obama, campaigned for the last several years on the grounds that President Bush overstepped his authority in his claims regarding the President’s war powers, the fact is that Obama has advanced virtually all the same legal arguments regarding the President’s war powers as Bush (and all previous Presidents) did. Most recently, this was manifested in the Obama administration claiming, and the Courts confirming, that the military is authorized to target and kill American citizens who fight against the U.S. government.
The Constitution does not authorize American citizens to fight against the U.S. government nor does it state Americans who engage in acts of war against the United States cannot be treated as enemies. Indeed, American history would support the position that enemies engaged in war against the U.S., including American citizens, are properly treated as enemies.
This was seen before the Constitution was even created during the Revolutionary War when Americans fighting for the British were treated as other combatants and were targeted by the military. Similarly, Confederate soldiers in the Civil War were American citizens, yet the U.S. military killed hundreds of thousands of American citizens who had taken up arms and become the enemy of the United States. More recently, it was seen in World War II when Americans who fought for the Axis powers were targeted and subjected to military law and execution when they violated the laws and customs of war.
What particularly intrigued this author is that the Court in the linked article exercised restraint and stated it did not have the authority to intervene in the executive branch’s decision regarding the targeting of enemy combatants. This restraint and separation of powers is the hallmark of the American system of government, and it is good to see the judicial and executive branches both get a major issue right.