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The one specific policy agreement liberals like me have with libertarian darling, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), is on U.S. military adventurism and U.S. Empire building for fun and profit. Paul is opposed to the United States' policing of the world and involving our military in every trouble spot in the world. I agree with Mr. Paul on this one policy.
So, yes, I applaud Paul for staging a 13 hour stand-up-and-talk filibuster in the Senate. The question he demanded an answer from the White House was the proper question at the proper time. Does the POTUS have the legal right to assassinate U.S. citizens on U.S. soil without any due process as the Constitution guarantees?
Obama has already ordered, and had carried out, the assassinations of at least three U.S. citizens without any shred of due process.....but the assassinations were done on foreign soil. Because the "battlefield" in the phony "war on terror" encompasses the entire globe, the absolutely relevant question then becomes, is it legal for the president to order the assassination of U.S. citizens on U.S. soil without due process?
Paul finally received an answer from the White House, and ended his talking filibuster.....
“The president has not and would not use drone strikes against American citizens on American soil,” (Jay) Carney said at a press briefing.
AG Holder issued this brief statement in response to Paul....
Dear Senator Paul:
It has come to my attention that you have now asked an additional question: "Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?" The answer to that question is no. Sincerely, Eric Holder.
Holder's response is nuanced. "not engaged in combat" is all the interpretive wiggle room a president needs to turn Holder's statement on it's head. Let me rephrase Holder's statement so you can appreciate the full impact of the dodge....
'Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American engaged in combat on American soil? The answer to that question is...yes.'
"engaged in combat" can be broadly interpreted. What would it mean for an American citizen on U.S. soil to "engage in combat?" Visit an Islamic website? Write a blog sympathizing with warred-upon Muslims? Make a phone call to a Muslim in the middle east?
After all, when Obama ordered the U.S. citizen Anwar al-Alwaki to be assassinated inside Yemen, and then two weeks later Awlaki's 16 year old son, also a U.S. citizen.....neither had picked up arms or were engaging in any form of "combat", whatsoever, as we normally understand the word.
So, Holder's response to Senator Paul carries little-to-no weight.....reassuring no one.
Oddly, however, the old GOP neo-con senators, Lindsey Graham and John McCain praised Holder's response....
“Mr. Holder is right,” McCain said, “even if he doesn’t explain the law very well, the US government cannot randomly target American citizens on US soil or anywhere else. I repeat that, the US government cannot randomly target American citizens on US soil or anywhere else.”
“I think disservice to a lot Americans by making them think that somehow they’re in danger from their government,” McCain said, “they’re not.”
“This president is not going to use a drone against a noncombatant sitting in a cafe anywhere in the United States, nor will future presidents, because if they do, they will have committed an act of murder,” Graham, R-SC., said, “noncombatants under the law of war are protected, not subject to being killed randomly. So to suggest that the president won’t answer that question somehow legitimizes that the drone program is going to result in being used against anybody in this room having a cup of coffee, to me, cheapens the debate.”
Notice specifically here that Graham chose to use the word "noncombatants" to sidestep answering the question directly. Basically coming to the same "dodge" conclusion found in Holder's letter. Paraphrasing what Graham did not say....
'If he deems it necessary, this president is going to use a drone against a combatant sitting in a cafe in the U.S. Combatants under the law of war are not protected, therefore they are subject to being killed randomly on the order of the CIC.'
The goober naivete of the Two Amigos, if presidential assassination powers wasn't such a serious topic, would be laughable.....
“To somehow allege or infer that the President of the United States is going to kill somebody like Jane Fonda, or somebody who disagrees with the policies, is a stretch of imagination which is, frankly, ridiculous,” McCain said Thursday morning on the Senate floor.
He read from a scathing Wall Street Journal editorial declaring that “if Mr. Paul wants to be taken seriously he needs to do more than pull political stunts that fire up impressionable libertarian kids in their college dorms. He needs to know what he’s talking about.”
All this nonsense is a direct result of our nation's declaration of "war" on a tactic and insisting that the U.S. has the right to wage that war against that tactic anywhere in the world where the tactic is used.....thus, the entire world is the "battlefield."
As Rand Paul rightfully said yesterday in mockery of McCain and Huckleberry.....
"They think the whole world is a battlefield, including America,..."
Is America part of the "battlefield?"
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