In the aftermath of World War II, the United States took the lead in creating a mechanism for world peace through international cooperation. The United Nations was designed to foster a common body of international law through its charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The UN's commitment to peace and justice helped earn the US broad respect and praise.
The post-9/11 era has witnessed a radical departure from the rule of law as embodied in the UN Charter and related documents. From the presidency of George W. Bush to the present, the US government has intervened more frequently in other countries – unilaterally, covertly, and often without reference to international legal norms. The Central Intelligence Agency has assumed paramilitary functions and operates what may be called a “gameboy war” with its drone program.
Among other rationalizations for these actions, the Justice Department white paper declares: “A lethal operation against an enemy leader undertaken in national self-defense...that is authorized by an informed, high-level official...would fall within a well-established variant of the public authority justification and therefore would not be murder.” By the terms of the white paper, an American citizen with presumed ties to a terrorist organization who eludes capture anywhere in the world would seem fair game for a drone strike (or a more personal assassination). Where does that leave the Fifth Amendment and its due process requirement?