Taking due process for the targets seriously though does imply some sort of restraint. To me, that restraint comes in the form of a presidential declaration, signed by the President, an elected official, attesting to the necessity of the action. Such a testament must include a summary of the evidence. It can be sanitized somewhat to protect sources and methods, but the fact that someone is going to be dead is enough of a tip off to the bad guys anyway. This summary might well be transmitted to the Gang of 8, or to a national security judge, beforehand, even if immediately beforehand, once the determination was made. (The actual day of execution is immaterial, as it obviously could change due to events on the grounds.) If necessary and in extraordinary circumstances, the executive could provide this testament to another branch of government after the fact. This is not perfect and it does not satisfy my innate sense of justice, but seems like reasonable balancing of equities.

How would presidents be held accountable for their actions? There must also be some public accountability. Somehow, we — myself, Conor, Glenn Greenwald, Dick Cheney — would need to know, for the historical record, what’s transpired. I agree: the president is not likely to be arrested. A president who fears arrest for ordering the killing someone outside the United States that is considered an enemy of the state is unlikely to order the killing unless he is absolutely, 100 percent certain that he can make a case for that killing in a court. I submit that, in the interests of our balance of values, subjecting the president to that level of fear a priori is almost cinematic in its own ignorance of the consequences.