The day I became a citizen of these United States, June 17, 2009, in the old Paramount Theater in downtown Oakland, I raised my right hand and swore that I “absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
To my immediate left in that vast and splendid deco theater was a Moroccan; to my right, a Salvadoran; and around us 956 others from 98 countries, each holding a small specimen of the flag that was about to become our standard. All of us had sworn earlier that day that since our final, successful interviews with immigration officials, we had not become prostitutes or members of the Communist Party.
The sovereignty I was abjuring was the Republic of Ireland, itself not so far from shifting its allegiance from the Irish Constitution to the dictates of European bankers. Since questions about the Bill of Rights were likely to come up in those final interviews, many people in the theater had a pretty clear notion that along with allegiance came certain important protections, such as guarantees of due process and the right to a public trial by jury. There’s no doubt that for many, with vivid memories of summary seizure and arbitrary imprisonment in their biographies, these guarantees had great significance.
But as it turns out, it was all a fraud. The Uzbek down the row from me, who had fled Karimov’s regime, probably had no need to anticipate being boiled alive — a specialite de la maison in Tashkent. But being roasted alive by a Hellfire missile, doomed by the executive order of President Obama, without due process in any court of law, for reasons of state forever secret, could theoretically lie in his future. If presidential death warrants ...