By Michael Collins
Part I of III
WASHINGTON - Selected to run by the powerful and wealthy, promising the public one thing and delivering another after elected, the President of the United States is the focus of a new political doctrine - the unitary executive. The office of the president has rapidly become a law unto itself over the past ten years. (Image)
Some time before February 2010, the President of the United States authorized the assassination of a U.S. citizen living overseas. The citizen was identified by the White House as a terrorist.
Unlike previous government programs to kill individuals overseas, this one wasn't a covert operation. The program was openly announced, without qualification. Dennis Blair, the Director of National Intelligence, discussed the plan in February at a congressional hearing. A few weeks later, John O. Brennan, the president's National Security Adviser, announced that the marked man was one of "dozens" of U.S. citizens put on the presidential death list because "they are very concerning to us."
The principal of unfettered executive power, absent political and judicial restraint, was officially established. Executive power now supersedes established law.
Charges Sought Against Rumsfeld Over Prison Abuse
The plaintiffs in the case include 11 Iraqis who were prisoners at Abu Ghraib, as well as Mohammad al-Qahtani, a Saudi held at Guantanamo, whom the U.S. has identified as the so-called "20th hijacker" and a would-be participant in the 9/11 hijackings. As TIME first reported in June 2005, Qahtani underwent a "special interrogation plan," personally approved by Rumsfeld, which the U.S. says produced valuable intelligence. But to obtain it, according to the log of his interrogation and government reports, Qahtani was subjected to forced nudity, sexual humiliation, religious humiliation, prolonged stress positions, sleep deprivation and other controversial interrogation techniques.