Bring back the Star Chamber!

For some three centuries, the kings of England claimed and exercised the power to try and convict their subjects in secret: secrecy so complete that the accused himself was unaware that charges had been laid against him. This came to be known as the Star Chamber. Its use increased under Henry VIII, as a functioning alternative to the regular court system, which was deemed to be too corrupt to dispense justice.  Charles I expanded the application of the Star Chamber to where it became not a fallback to courts of common law, but a full replacement for them. In 1641, the Long Parliament abolished the Star Chamber.

President Obama has expanded the war-waging powers of the Presidency to include now the deliberate targeted killing of American citizens. The citizens so targeted are not told that they are being considered for execution. They therefore have no opportunity to defend themselves, or confront their accusers. To the extent that they learn about being on a list of citizens to be killed, it happens in the split second before the warhead of the missile, fired by the drone dispatched by the President, explodes.

This is being done in the name of the American people. Someday, we will be called to account for this. Pleading ignorance will not excuse us.

Why then the call to revive the Star Chamber? One simple reason: for all that it was an abuse of power and an imposition of injustice, the Star Chamber never claimed or exercised the power to execute its targets.

Of course, I’m not seriously advocating the use of a Star Chamber. I am pointing out that the tyranny of kings was not so dangerous or all-inclusive as the tyranny of a President who has claimed the power to be judge, jury, and executioner of American citizens.


One thought on “Bring back the Star Chamber!

  1. Pingback: The death rattle of due process | Ameryx le Gallois

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