A kill order issued by President Obama or an "informed, high-level official" of the Obama administration is one thing, and it's a thing I'm reasonably comfortable with--chiefly because I happen to trust this administration's judgment. But would I have wanted a McCain administration to hold such power? Or a Romney administration?...I agree that governing by a consistency of law is a laudable goal. But I also think this argument is fraught with all sorts of problems.
Of course not. No reasonable person would. But we cannot self-govern by caprice; we must govern by a consistency of law. That means we cannot forbid a Romney administration that which we'd freely permit an Obama administration; or, put another way, whatever a reasonable person would permit an Obama administration must also apply to, say, a Paul Ryan or Bobby Jindal or Chris Christie administration.
Would you be comfortable with that? I sure as hell wouldn't.
The most obvious one is in thinking that we can protect ourselves from the dangerous actions of idiotic presidents by codifying sanity into law. If you think we can, then perhaps it would be a good idea to check into the convoluted briefs written by the Bush administration's Office of Legal Counsel that attempted to justify torture. Beyond that - the classification of torture as a war crime was codified in the late 1940's. But that didn't stop the U.S military and/or CIA from participating in and condoning torture all over Central and South America in the 70's and 80's.
The idea that you can create enough rules to stop people in power from doing bad things - either out in the open or in secret - is simply nonsense.
Don't get me wrong...rules play an important role in any organization, no matter how large or small. They become the tools by which people in an organization hold each other and their leaders accountable. In the case of Bush and torture, the rules of the Geneva Convention didn't stop him and the second line of defense in our democratic republic - Congress and the Courts - failed as well. Ultimately it was up to we the people to elect someone who said he would end the practice.
I don't think that its ever wise to depend exclusively on rules or trust in these weighty matters - we need both. Its on us as citizens of a democracy to elect someone that we trust to abide by the rules. Beyond political differences, that's why I'd work my ass off to prevent someone like Bush or McCain or Romney from ever being elected.