But I don’t want to trivialize the President’s constitutional duty to protect the country either. I don’t think Congress has the wherewithal to determine, ahead of time, who belongs on a target list and who doesn’t. I don’t think the judicial branch would want that responsibility, especially given the time constraints that accompany the targeting process.
What I would like to see, and what I think IS feasible, is a system of post-facto accountability. It would require more transparency by the executive branch but would not interfere with their decision-making. The lawyer or “informed person” who signed off on the killing would be required to submit a dossier to a judge, perhaps on a special panel, who would review the decision chain and determine whether the government met its own criteria both literally and substantively. The court would release to Congress and the public redacted versions of its decisions. If it found that the President was using these powers indiscriminately, we, the people, would know. We would know well after the fact, which is a necessary evil, but we would be able to do something about it.