Radley Balko goes there:
Obama is arguing the executive has the power to execute American citizens without a trial, without even so much as an airing of the charges against them, and that it can do so in complete secrecy, with no oversight from any court, and that the families of the executed have no legal recourse.
You can’t even make the weak argument that the executive at least has to claim this power in the course of protecting national security. Because it doesn’t matter. Obama is arguing that he has the right to keep everything about these executions secretincluding the reasons they were orderedmerely by uttering the magic phrase “state secrets.” In other words, that this power would only arise under a national security context is deemed irrelevant by the fact that not only is Obama claiming the president’s word on what qualifies as “national security” is final, he’s claiming the power in such a way that there’s no audience to whom he would ever need to make that connection.
So yeah. Tyranny. If there’s more tyrannical power a president could possibly claim than the power to execute the citizens of his country at his sole discretion, with no oversight, no due process, and no ability for anyone to question the execution even after the fact . . . I can’t think of it.
Adam Serwer adds:
We're so frightened of terrorism that we forget that there's a reason democracies limit the government's legitimate use of force, particularly against their own citizens. It's hard to imagine a more direct or final deprivation of liberty without due process.
And where, one wonders, are the Tea Partiers on this? About where they were when it was done under Bush.