On March 5, 2013 Sen. Rand Paul held a 13 hour filibuster against John Brennan’s nomination to head the CIA, citing his concerns over the administration’s belief in the ability to use drones to assassinate US Citizens.
On March 6, 2013 Sen. Ted Cruz grilled AG Eric Holder over the issue of using drones to assassinate US Citizens while “sitting in a café drinking a cup of coffee,” asking Eric Holder if he thought that was “Constitutional”.
Now Rand Paul is filibustering the nomination of David Barron to fill a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Why? For the same reason as before, drones. So what is the big concern? Why are Rand Paul and Ted Cruz so convinced that this administration is going to use drones against US citizens? Because they know something they are not telling you. They know that the DOJ has issued a paper, The White Paper, proclaiming their right to do just that.
On February 5, 2013, a Department of Justice document, The White Paper, was leaked to Michael Isikoff from NBC. Isikoff reported and released this paper to the world and attempted to show the DOJ’ intentions to secretly assassinate U.S. citizens in the name of national security. This DOJ White Paper is a quasi-legal analysis justifying the government’s use of lethal force to assassinate US Citizens, classified as a potential hostile by the President or by any “high level official of the U.S. government”, anywhere on the globe, with no due process, even when there is no evidence to support such an accusation. Sound too “Orwellian” to be true? Let’s see what has Paul and Cruz so worked up.
In true progressive form, this paper redefines terms to create the DOJ’s justification to use drones to assassinate Citizens. Today’s redefinition involves the words “Imminent threat” and it is redefined to include a citizen plotting about some threat at some distant time. The government does not have “to have clear evidence that a specific attack…will take place in the immediate future.” And though much is made about the Law of War, the citizen to be assassinated can be far from the “actual hostility.” The DOJ eliminates the barriers of “geographic limitations,” and asserts the ability to “follow” the target to a “a new nation.” Let us not forget the provisions of the NDAA 2012 that allow the President to transfer the powers under the “Law of War” to the FBI, DHS, and local law enforcement, making it possible for the U.S. to be the new battleground. Here is what the Democrats say were the results of NDAA 2012:
“Because I believe our national security professionals should decide the best way to detain and prosecute terror suspects, I also opposed provisions of the defense authorization act that would allow only the military to handle terror suspects…Efforts to change that language failed in the Senate. But after negotiations with the House of Representatives, the final legislation preserves the rights of the Federal Bureau of Investigations and allows the President to waive the requirements for military custody when necessary to preserve national security.” Sen. Bill Nelson, (D-FL)
No Constitutional protections, no review of a judge, no jury of your peers, no requirement of actual “imminent threat,” and no need for you to be caught on the battlefield (unless you remember that the government has already declared the ENTIRE PLANET to be a battlefield in the “War on Terror”!).
In criminal court, to put someone in prison or sentence them to death, the burden of proof that must be met by the government is “beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt.” In order to get a search warrant the Fourth Amendment requires the government to meet the standard of “probable cause” as reviewed and approved by a judge. The Fifth Amendment requires that before the government can take someone’s life they are guaranteed an indictment by a grand jury and conviction by a jury of their peers. One would think that at least these standards would apply if the government is going to take a citizen’s life. Unfortunately that is not the case here and the only reference the DOJ makes to the Constitution is to point out that it DOESN’T APPLY! What is the burden of proof for the President to assassinate US citizens? According to the DOJ, the government must simply “demonstrate” that the United States’ interest in preventing an anticipated threat of violence outweighs “the person’s interest in his life,” again, with no “clear evidence that a specific attack…will take place in the immediate future.” Citing their standard of proof, the government quotes the court of Cf. Hamdi, 542 U.S. at 535: “the Court accords the greatest of respect and consideration to the judgments of military authorities…the scope and discretion of that discretion is necessarily wide.” And of course in this case, that scope the government asserts, would be transferred to the “high-level official of the U.S. government” making the determination.
It is interesting to note that throughout its paper the DOJ continually appeals to the “government’s inherent right to defend itself”. How ironic! Eric Holder doesn’t believe YOU have an inherent right to self-defense but he claims that right for the GOVERNMENT!
What’s the Big Deal?
What is wrong with the Executive branch of a government engaging in the assassination of our citizens, who are classified by the government as combatants against this country, absent due process? After all don’t they have a duty to keep us safe from terrorist attack? We WANT them to have this power, right?
If the government can secretly assassinate citizens without a “speedy and public trial,” or any due process what so ever, we are left with trusting the government to convey truthful and accurate information to justify their actions. How is that trust working out for us with Benghazi, the IRS, HHS, etc?
What about the fact that the government has already redefined who is a “terrorist”? Just look at Janet Napolitano’s report, as head of the Department of Homeland Security, warning America regarding who is a terrorist; “rightwing extremists” concerned about illegal immigration, abortion, increasing federal power and restrictions on firearms – and returning war veterans.
“Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.”
In this paper, the DOJ asserts that their standard involves a balancing act between the target’s “interest in his life” and the “United States’ interest in forestalling the threat of violence”. But don’t we have the Constitution to protect us from the government violating our rights? Not according to the DOJ. They claim the Constitution has no application to their “right” to assassinate:
“Were the target of a lethal operation a U.S. citizen who may have rights under the Due Process Clause and Fourth Amendment, that individual’s citizenship would not immunize him from a lethal operation.” (page 2, paragraph 2)
“The realities of combat render certain uses of force necessary and appropriate, including force against U.S. citizens who have joined enemy forces in the armed conflict against the U.S. and whose activities pose an imminent threat of violent attack- and due process analysis need not blink at those realities.” (page 6 paragraph 2)
“Under such circumstances, the intrusion on any Fourth Amendment interests would be outweighed by the “importance of the governmental interest [that] justify the intrusion. (page 9 paragraph 4)
A government not limited by the Constitution is NOT a Republic, that is a totalitarian Kingdom. Unrestrained power of the government must be continually checked against the Liberty of the people. And if the government that has the ability to define the enemy, and possesses the uninhibited inclination to define its own citizens as terrorists, and expresses no limitation to its power, tyranny is already established.
Benjamin Franklin is quoted to have said, “Those who would trade Liberty for temporary security deserve neither Liberty nor security.” How could he make such a bold statement? Because he knew from history that trading Liberty will NEVER result in greater security and once Liberty is traded, you never get it back. I find it very telling that our founders never said, “Peace must be supported at all hazards.”
Eliminating enemy combatants –good; assassinating US citizens…a destructive assault on Liberty. This is the Constitutional quagmire we have created by maintaining a completely inept political administration that is completely ignorant of the Constitution and the principles of Liberty it protects.
I ask you, how can authorizing this level of arbitrary power be acceptable in the eyes of our Congress who have sworn to support and defend the Constitution of the United States? How can these elected representatives justify the worst arbitrary power and the most destructive authority to our individual liberty?
The big question that remains is WHY isn’t Rand Paul or Ted Cruz telling YOU about the DOJ White Paper? Why isn’t Congress holding hearings and fighting this proclaimed authority? Why doesn’t every citizen know that their government believes the “government’s inherent right to self-defense and national security” now outweigh our “interest” in our life?
Orwellian or not…you be the judge. Read a full analysis of this DOJ White Paper HERE.
Let us head the warnings of Alexander Hamilton, and Justice William Blackstone:
“To bereave a man of life, [says he] or by violence to confiscate his estate, without accusation or trial, would be so gross and notorious an act of despotism, as must at once convey the alarm of tyranny throughout the whole nation; but confinement of the person, by secretly hurrying him to jail, where his sufferings are unknown or forgotten, is a less public, a less striking, and therefore a more dangerous engine of arbitrary government.” And as a remedy for this fatal evil he is everywhere peculiarly emphatical in his encomiums on the habeas corpus act, which in one place he calls “the BULWARK of the British Constitution”. (Alexander Hamilton, Fed. Paper #84, quoting Justice Blackstone)