Rand Paul’s Bipartisan Filibuster Against Obama’s Kill List

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    Jayel wrote, “Why weren’t more Democrats rising in opposition to Obama’s claim that he can kill Americans on U.S. soil? At least Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) rose in opposition.

    ACLU and CodePink are supporting Rand Paul on this issue, as are many prominent progressive writers.

    What are people’s thoughts on this?”




    The President can invoke his war powers. Not just anyone in the Executive Branch. He has only done it when there is a threat. A giant bomb advancing on Federal property in my view would warrant the President invoking war powers. You may not agree. He may not choose drones. The President has been allowed to use his judgment ever since we invented ICBMs because we have no time to do otherwise. There is no bombing protocol in the Constitution. The War Powers Act is an Act of Congress. Now if Congress declares war, the President is again the head of all the armed forces and they do what he says.
    No one believes that a President would ever drone a guy that you could take out with a routine traffic stop. That is not the issue. The issue is whether there is any hypothetical imaginable that would warrant the use of a drone on an American citizen on American soil. Focus here.
    Apparently those who have commented believe this is a very, very, very political issue and that raising the question brands one as an extremist. It is not an important exercise for Occupy given our goals. But the question of whether or not the President’s war powers are excessive is something we should think about and question and debate for ourselves. And when I say debate, I mean discuss without the drama.



    I think you are missing some very salient points here, Rick.  The fact is, war has NOT been declared (and has not been declared since WWII) and pre-emptively striking US citizens BEFORE they have committed a crime is a blatant violation of our Constitutional rights.  And yes, the war powers Obama has assumed are beyond excessive!



    Jayel wrote:

    “It is about an American president killing people without
    trial—including Americans—who are not actively engaged in combat in American soil or in countries where we are not at war (Yemen, Pakistan,Somalia)

    This is a frightening power a president to have whether they be Republican or Democrat or Green Party or Libertarian.”



    Rick wrote:

    “If we object to the powers contained in The War Powers Act that gave the president these powers then we should be for limiting those powers with a counter act. But if we object to invading Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure then we should be all about protecting those rights. In my opinion, the War Powers Act powers are the more amenable because they are Congressional acts and not Constitutional in origin.

    However, the Fourth Amendment would be the stronger challenge and better meat for a supreme court decision because it would come with far more precedent. Clearly, sending a drone into a cafe to take out a person declared a terrorist not only violates that person’s rights against search and seizure and a whole host of other rights (habeas corpus, right to counsel, trial by jury of his peers, etc.) but legitimizes collateral damage in the form of casualties to bystanders and fits the definitions of one or another degree of murder. Rand Paul’s rant was about drones and the President’s powers to order them.”



    Steve wrote:

    Paul’s rant focused on drones, he even talked about domestic use of drones and read online articles about drones. As far as challenging the fourth amendment question, the Supreme Court isn’t interested in hearing cases related to international wire tapping unless the plaintiff can prove they were tapped. Not that they are in a class at high risk for being tapped. So how do we challenge this right in court unless you can prove you were killed without cause? It’s too late.”



    Jayel wrote:

    “Paul’s rant was about drones.”

    “Actually, no.”

    “Unlike partisan hacks (on both sides), I actually paid attention to what he was saying. I am, by no means, a drooling fan of Rand Paul.”

    Jayel quotes Paul here:

    “You know, it’s kind of hard to choose who your parents are. That’s sort of like saying to someone whose father is a thief or a murderer or a rapist, which is obviously a bad thing, but does that mean it’s okay to kill their children think of the standard we would have if our standard for ‘killing people overseas’ is, you should have chosen a more responsible parent. It just boggles the mind and really affects me to think that that would be our standard.”

    “What if you happened to go to dinner with a guy you didn’t know or a woman you didn’t know and the government says they’re a terrorist? Just because you’re having dinner with them and you are a male between the ages of 16 and 50, does that make you a combatant? *We also asked the question do you condone the CIA’s practice of counting civilians killed by U.S. drone strikes as militants simply because they were of the same age? Like every other question, no answer.”

    “The Wall Street Journal reported and said that the bulk of the drone attacks are signature attacks. They don’t even know the name of the person. A line or a caravan is going from a place where we think there are bad people to a place where we think they might commit harm and we kill the caravan, not the person. Is that the standard that we will now use in America? Will we use a standard for killing Americans to be that we thought – killing Americans to be that we thought you were bad, we thought you were coming from a meeting of bad people and you were in a line of traffic and so, therefore, you were fine for the killing? That is the standard we’re using overseas. Is that the standard we’re going to use here?”

    “What troubles me about the drone strike program is that quite a few – I don’t know the number – The Wall Street Journal says the bulk of the attacks in Pakistanhave been signature attacks, meaning: nobody named and nobody specifically identified, and that ‘civilians aren’t really counted’ because anybody, any male between the age of 16 and 50 is a combatant unless otherwise proven. *But if those are the standards, I think we need to be alarmed.* And I think there is a difference between sympathizing and taking up arms.”

    “The problem is as this war has drug on, they take that authorization of use of force to mean pretty much anything. *And so they have now said that the war has no geographic limitations, so it’s really not a war in Afghanistan, it’s a war in Yemen, Somalia, Mali. It’s a war in unlimited places.”

    “How about Mali? I’m not sure in Mali they’re probably worried more about trying to get the next day’s food than coming over here to attack us. But we have to ask these questions and *we have to ask about limitations on force because essentially what we have now is a war without geographic boundaries’ and we have many on my side who come down here and they say, oh, the battlefield’s here in America.”

    “Kevin Gosztola who writes at FireDogLake, writes the mere fact that the President’s answer to this question, whether you can kill an American on American soil, that the President’s answer was yes is outrageous. However, it fits the framework for ‘fighting a permanent global war on terrorism without any geographic limitations,’ which the present administration, President Obama’s administration has maintained that it has the authority to waive. What’s important here is that we’re talking about a war without geographic limitations, but we’re also talking about a war without temporal limitations. There is no limit, no limit in time to this war. When will this war end? It’s a war that has, I think, an infinite timeline. So if you’re going to suspend your rights, if there is going to be no geographic limits to killing, which really means we’re not at war in Afghanistan, we’re at war everywhere and everybody that pops up is called al-Qaida now, whether they have ever heard of al-Qaida or not, whether they have any communication with some kind of network of al-Qaida, everybody is al-Qaida, but there is a new war or an ongoing war everywhere in the world, there is no limitations.”

    Jayel asks,

    “Does this look like someone who is just obsessed about drones?

    Obama is killing American teenagers and countless of innocent children in these foreign lands, and it is a shame that few can look past petty partisan politics.”



    Jayel, as you are not a ‘drooling fan of Rand Paul,’ many of us are not ‘partisan hacks’ who can’t see beyond party politics to the actual principles and human rights that are being blatantly violated.  It is indeed an eloquent statement that Rand makes here about the insane logic behind the entire war on terror and the excesses of power.  It is amazing, however, that this is the same person who would argue that an embryo has more rights than a grown woman and would arrogantly presume that he has a right to override her decisions and determine what another human being does with her own body.  This is typical of the compartmentalization in which so many men in particular engage that qualifies for its own brand of insanity.”



    Rick wrote:

    When I suggested that we challenge the powers granted under the War Powers Act, I didn’t mean to challenge them in court.  It seems to me impossible to pursue violations of the State against a private citizen when it has to do with national security matters because the U.S. Attorney will plead national security and the judge will dismiss the case as happened in Arar v. Ashcroft and many others that had to do with torturing the wrong person.

    It has to be done through the legislature by finding a Senator brave enough to introduce a bill altering or repealing the laws that give the President these powers. All that would accomplish is to give the power to Brennan at the CIA who now authorizes drone strikes – now he would be able to do so without oversight by the President as is now the case.

    The issue here is whether the death of non-combatants is tolerable if the President had to call in a drone strike on an American citizen like say Timothy McVey. Here is Timothy McVey driving this huge truck filled with explosives on his way to the Federal Building in Oklahoma City only this time, the FBI gets info that says he is on his way and tells the President. Say the President has less than 20 minutes to take out McVey before he enters a highly populated area in that truck. Say that we changed the law so that the president has to ask a panel of U.S. Senators that includes Rand Paul before he okays the strike.  Every minute that Rand is ranting the density of the population where the truck is located increases. What do we do?”




    Jayel wrote:

    You do realize that you are advocating no less than precrime by against someone who has yet commit a crime?

    What a false dichotomy you are presenting. Murder by drones and abrogation of due process  OR innocent people being killed.

    What is next? Drone strike on Adam Lanza before he kills all those middle schoolers? Literally killing innocent people who have yet to commit a crime because we are afraid they will commit a crime.

    Ruby Ridge, Waco, and Kent State every day.

    Jesus, I never realize progressives were so authoritarian.”




    Robert, do you care to elaborate on this statement “Yet another hole in the hypothetical ‘what if’ argument?”

    Steve wrote:

    Rick made a hypothetical about the government stopping McVeigh and you post a story about how the government didn’t act on information which may or may not have stopped the OKC bombing. If they did have a drone hit Elohim City it’s not clear the attack would have been stopped, considering McVeigh wasn’t there at the time.

    So I’m not quite sure what you’re getting at. Ostensibly you think in this case a drone strike should not have occurred, and of course we know no action was taken at all.



    Steven K. wrote:

    To my understanding, OKC bombing protocol, according to the U.S. Constitution, would call on the Executive Branch of our Federal government to communicate information regarding the threat to the County’s Sheriff office. The Sheriff can, then, direct a city police department to act upon the lead.

    This would most likely result in the closest police officer locating and pulling over McVeigh’s vehicle with a search warrant or claiming the the information received was justifiable as probable cause. Taking this route ensures that civilians are protected and, if we get the wrong guy, he can be reimbursed for the cost of wasted time and a legal defense, not buried as a martyr for civil rights that were founded hundreds of years ago.

    One point that I’d like to make is that, if Rand did not present this filibuster, would so many people be discussing this obvious abuse of civil rights?

    His goal was to get an answer and he got it; Holder says, “no.” to the question of killing non-combative American citizens without a trial. The answer poses no real relief to me or Rand, as he still voted against the new head of our KGB because these corporate loyalists tend to do a lot of lying. Still, the filibuster ended, following that answer from Holder.

    Not only that and this conversation but, the GOP is dividing even faster than before, with McCain and Graham standing against Paul and Cruz. We should celebrate this dissent within a party that has far out-lasted its relevance. Remember that Paul and Cruz are not leaders of the party as Romney and McCain are considered. I doubt that they will turn that sinking ship around.

    I only hope that the Green and/or Libertarian Party can rise to the occasion because I suspect that a one party system with the current leaders of either major party would be another leap into the direction that we’ve been sliding towards for about a century, now. Not a direction that has historically been friendly to the majority of mankind.”

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