Holder: US may use drones to kill US citizens on US soil but only bad people so don't worry

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106 Responses to “Holder: US may use drones to kill US citizens on US soil but only bad people so don't worry”

  1. mindysan33 says:

    I’m glad someone is taking a stand on the drone issue, even if it is a guy I don’t partcularly care for (Paul). However, It would be kind of nice if this was about the use of drones on ANY person without due process, not just American citizens.

    • penguinchris says:

      I’ve been watching the filibuster on C-SPAN and I too have to admit I am glad that Rand is doing this, and he’s only rarely gotten even close to saying something ridiculous that I couldn’t agree with (like everything that normally seems to come out of him). Another Republican senator is debating/opposing Paul at the moment, which is interesting. 

      • EH says:

        Rand Paul threatens the cozy collusion Rs & Ds have cultivated for themselves over the decades.

        • mindysan33 says:

           I’m not sure about all that.

        • Navin_Johnson says:

          Apart from this filibuster I’m trying to think of any great way he’s threatened the status quo. Hardly seems brave as it’s a perfect opportunity for him to stick it to the President and get a little publicity, and the GOP has even opposed Obama when he’s been incredibly hawkish, which is something they would otherwise support gladly. I’m glad he’s bringing attention to the issue no matter what his motivations may be, but I remain unimpressed with this creep. Like his dad, he’s still just a Republican at the end of the day anyway…

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            - Supports a constitutional amendment outlawing abortion, including cases of rape and incest
            - Opposes parts of the Civil Rights Act
            - Opposes campaign finance reform
            - Wants to get rid of the Department of Education
            - Wants an electrified border fence and helicopters… and to change the 14th Amendment
            - Supports the war in Afghanistan
            - Opposes marriage equality

            He’s worse than most Republicans.

          • Navin_Johnson says:

            Well, I know all that, and that’s exactly what I meant by my comment. Despite the “cool” Libertarian parts he’s just a neoconfederate ghoul like his daddy. He’s not ushering in some new kind of “cool” peacenik libertarian conservatism that challenges the two party system, and he won’t even run as an independent. Just another State’s Rights teabagger.

          • Preston Sturges says:

             Ron Paul and his campaign vanished overnight when Anonymous revealed that he had been working very very  closely with several white supremacist organizations.

            Likewise, much of Rand Paul’s appeal is based on the use of words like “nullification”  which are a big neon sign to white supremacists.

          • EH says:

            To be sure, the R/Ds currently like to pretend they *don’t* share any of those values. Crazy as he might seem, and I’m sure this is a psychological or philosophical error on my part, but maybe he’s just more honest about his intentions. Regardless, a stopped clock and all that.

        • msbpodcast says:

          R&D is not the problem. Its deployment that’s the problem.

          What is acceptable to us (colateral damage in some place teeming with brown people,) is going to not be acceptable here in the US of A, but the accuracy of the deployment of drone strikes won’t really ever improve.

          Paul is a 1%er like the rest of the millionaires who’s droning (pardon the pun) on, and on, and on, but it not costing him anything and its ultimately not accomplishing anything, viz: we still paying his salary.

          He’s just another bump on a log that trying to be a pothole on the road to democracy.

      • mindysan33 says:

        They said on NPR a little while ago that a couple of repubs and a dem joined him. In generally, though most of both parties are fully onboard with the drone policies overall. Good for them for standing up for this. But like I said, I wish this was just plain unacceptable, not just unacceptable on American soil. That’s a larger issue that I’m not sure ANYONE has really publicly opposed… Maybe Bernie Sanders or Ron Paul?

  2. Cowicide says:

    Thank goodness drones are incredibly accurate and hardly ever waste any innocent civilians. /s

    • awjt says:

       And even if a few were wasted, they were probably guilty of *something* anyways.

      • EH says:

        Guilty of being a military-aged male.

        • blissfulight says:

          Guilty of being there.  

          • Lupus_Yonderboy says:

            That’s the whole problem of “ties to a known terrorist” being used as an excuse.  I’m a vegan who has plenty of friends in the Animal Rights community, I’m personally only about one-and-a-half degrees of separation from at least a couple of people who could technically be classified as “known terrorists” any time we have a barbeque.

          • ldobe says:

            Please remain at your current position citizen.  A drone is being dispatched to your nextdoor neighbor’s.

          • Brainspore says:

            I can’t believe that no one has taken out Kevin Bacon yet.

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            Take a number. I’ve been a house guest or dinner guest of half a dozen people who ended up on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list or went to federal prison on terrorist offenses. Funnily enough, those activists get around. There must be a million of us with terrorist cooties in the US, although most people won’t be quite so contaminated as me.

          • IamInnocent says:

             Guilty of being innocent.

          • SomeDude says:

            and, conversely, innocent of NOT being guilty.

          • Thebes42 says:

            Guilty of being brown and worshipping the wrong invisible-man-in-the-sky.

          • rocketpjs says:

             My grandfather was in the IRA.  Had he lived long enough, he would surely have attended my wedding.  Given that we are foreigners, we are already on the open-season kill-your-heart-out list, but my wedding could easily have been a target.

            And being related to a terrorist does not mean you are a terrorist.  I couldn’t be less of one.  So fuck the drones and those who advocate for them.

          • awjt says:

             Guilty of guilt.

        • oasisob1 says:

          Guilty of having the capacity to grow into a military-aged male, or into a female capable of giving birth to a potential combatant, or of being old enough to at one time have done either of those things.

          TIFTFY.

  3. gracchus says:

    Between this answer and the ones he gave to questions about the Aaron Swartz prosecution, I continue to wonder if A.G.s like Ashcroft or Gonzales who were honest about their thuggish natures might in the long term be less dangerous than this Beigeist technocrat.

    Jury’s still out, so to speak, but the more I see of Holder in action the more nervous I get.

    • ldobe says:

      All things being equal (ie, the level of brutality being the same), I’d rather it be blatant than hidden.  Of course, how can one quantify brutality in a complete and accurate way?

  4. Bob Harvey says:

    Eventually this will be one deadly car chase away from being supported by the masses.

  5. Jamie Kelly says:

    I really hate it when the government gives me reason to make common cause with people like Rand Paul, but here they are, doing it again.

    • jerwin says:

      BWAHAHAHA. The Change has started. Soon you will realize the tyrannical nature of social liberalism. Be not afraid.

      • Preston Sturges says:

        Not as long as there are people like Anders Breivik to save us from The War On Christmas (which he totally believed in BTW).

      • EH says:

        It’s all tyranny, I just try to choose the tyranny that makes things tolerable for the greatest number of people.

  6. ninjapornstar says:

    The whole drone thing seems to be massive misdirect. Honestly, I think a lot of you are missing the point.

    The president clearly has the authority to authorize lethal military force on American soil and against American civilians. He had this power before drones, and he had it after drones. He can only exercise this power in “extraordinary circumstances,” such as an invasion of America by a foreign power (or an incredibly broad declaration of war), but in the right circumstances the power exists, drones or no drones.

    This is why declaring “war” is such a big deal. It gives the executive a whole bunch of very, very scary powers. But drones didn’t create this power. And truthfully, if you’re at the receiving end of the president’s war powers, I don’t think it much matters if he’s using a drone, an F-15, or a howitzer.

    The president can also authorize lethal force against American civilians outside of a war. For example, the FBI hostage rescue team killed an American civilian on American soil in January of this year. It was all over the news. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_Alabama_school_bus_driver_murder_and_child_abduction

    The issue is NOT whether the president can or cannot use drones.
    The issue is when can the president (a) kill foreigners; (b) kill Americans overseas; or (c) kill Americans in America?

    Generally, “war” gives you a green light on all of those questions. Which is why the AUMF and the general acceptance of a “global war on terror,” are so damn scary. If the battlefield is everywhere, then so is the president’s authority to drop bombs.

    But again, this power exists independent of drones. Don’t get upset about drones. Get upset about a limitless declaration of war.

    • mindysan33 says:

       I think you make an important point. This really goes back to the powers allowed to the executive branch as much as it is about violence. This has been a key struggle since the time the constitution was ratified.

    • Brainspore says:

      The truly disgusting thing isn’t that the last several presidents have been gradually wresting the power to wage war away from congress, it’s that congress has been going out of its way to hand that power over. If they actually had to sign declarations of war then they couldn’t dodge responsibility as soon as the latest military engagement became politically unpopular.

    • theophrastvs says:

      Don’t get upset about drones. Get upset about a limitless declaration of war.

      I suffer from the capacity to be upset both about war and specific weapons of war (e.g. drones, landmines, chemical, biological, nuclear bombs…)

      • ninjapornstar says:

        Okay.

        So what, legally, is the difference between killing an American civilian with a drone and killing an American civilian with an A-10?

        Xeni’s post and many of the comments here (including, it seems to me, yours) imply that there is some important legal difference between killing an American civilian on American soil with a drone versus any other means. However, I don’t see or understand that difference.

        In fact, of the five weapons you list above, drones are the least of my concern (at least until they become legitimately autonomous, then it’s skynet time). Landmines hang around well after the conflict is over. Chem and biological weapons kill lots of people indiscriminately, nukes do the same, but even more-so.

        But drones… they’re just planes flown by remote pilots. When it comes to killing folks, any objections I have about drones are the same objections I have about piloted aircraft. As I argued above, drones didn’t create or even change the legal framework under which the president is authorized to kill people (Americans or otherwise).

        Admittedly, drones may have an effect on the political costs of war, but Holder wasn’t talking about that, and I don’t believe that’s what Xeni’s post was addressing.

        Seriously, help me out here?

        • theophrastvs says:

          drones don’t kill people indiscriminately?  how about the advanced models that are being developed to be set to kill pattern matching capabilities? (so many ‘adults’ in a certain area) – no worries there?  if a soldier kills a bunch of children in a war zone, and if the truth gets out, that person may be court-marshaled; do you think the same process is likely for a drone? drones which have killed children?  and you “seriously” don’t believe that drone activities have specially negatively affected those that see and hear them constantly buzzing over their villages?   i see no reason to defend drones. they’re being used to sanitize war by providing ‘distance’. send your son to war and you are less likely to see what’s on “dancing with the stars” that evening.

        • Preston Sturges says:

          Drones have become part of the Midwestern  conspiracy theory subculture with HAARP, “chemtrails,” Monsanto, Obama’s Kenyan citizenship, blah blah blah.

          News that observation drones had started being used in America automatically became Predator drones with Hellfire missiles in America.  Plenty of Rand Paul fans have been convinced that killer drones have been prowling the Midwest since Obama was elected.

          • DavidCulberson says:

             “Midwestern  conspiracy theory subculture?”  I think there are conspiracy nut cases all over the US, I don’t think that the midwest has any special concentration of them.

          • Preston Sturges says:

            Not that the midwest has any monopoly on CT, it’s just that their conspiracies have a special regional flavor.

            I think all those long sight lines make them obsess over threats that are largely invisible yet somehow about to destroy them personally (eg drones, chemtrails, HAARP).

            And the idea that the USDA can monitor planting from the air automatically morphed into killed drones roaming the skies of Iowa as soon as Obama was elected. There are farmers convinced Hellfire missiles hang over their heads right now.

    • Ambiguity says:

      But again, this power exists independent of drones. Don’t get upset about drones. Get upset about a limitless declaration of war.

      The points you make are valid, but I think I’ll choose to be concerned about both.

      The thing that disturbs be about drones is that they’re a little like tazers: in being more directed and focused than, say, a tank rolling down Main Street, it seems like eventually they are more likely to be used.

  7. Stooge says:

    This fixation with drones seems a little absurd: Holder’s position is that there exist hypothetical situations in which he might be OK with the President extra-judicially authorising the use of lethal force on US soil.
    Now, there’s nothing wrong with disagreeing with Holder’s position, but the notion being objected to in this thread is not the killing, but the possibility that drones might be used to do it. Why does this matter? Is there anyone at all who is prepared to accept that circumstances might arise in which the President might authorise the launch in anger of Stinger missiles from an Apache helicopter in Wisconsin, but draws the line at launching from a Reaper drone?

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      The government should at least have to suffer the embarrassment of sending tanks and troops down Main Street.

    • Preston Sturges says:

      See my comment upthread about how drones have a special place in the conspiracy subculture.

    • bill_mcgonigle says:

      I don’t know about this thread, but I watched Rand for an hour or so and it was very clear that his issues were about the denial of due process, the abuse of the meaning of imminence, the use of killing as a convenience, the legality of this as an executive power, and whether or not US soil is under battlefield (martial law) or constitutional (rule of law) conditions.

      His concerns are applicable now, but every Democrat who should be afraid of a John McCrazy being president some day should have been up there too.

  8. Justin Kuhn says:

    Thank God. Such a relief.

  9. cstatman says:

    oh yeah,  I totally feel safer now.     Keep Calm and just take it.

  10. Daemonworks says:

    The US is already using guns and nightsticks to kill US citizens on US soil…

  11. class_enemy says:

    Well of course, Obama’s drones only kill bad people.   That’s why one president is an accused war criminal and another is a Nobel peace prize winner.  Didn’t you get the memo??

    • pjcamp says:

       I got that memo! It said “we never hit anyone by accident.” Right?

    • Navin_Johnson says:

       Even so, the accused war criminal actually started two wars, one of them based on lies, so it’s a bit iffy to try to push a false equivalence.

      • wysinwyg says:

         Oh shit, I think I see how the system works now.  Republicans refuse to raise taxes and Democrats refuse to start wars.  Then each can disavow responsibility knowing full well that taxes will be raised and wars started regardless.  Only Bush could start the wars and only Obama could pay for them.

        • Navin_Johnson says:

          It’s still an annoyance to make such a false equivalence. Especially one that seems to let Bush (and handlers) off the hook for hatching such diabolical criminality on a historical and grand scale, or tries to put him and Obama in balance. Obama is a neoliberal shithead engaging in immoral behavior and of that there can be no doubt, but if time stopped today, there’s no way that these two guys share the same circle of hell.

          • Gulliver says:

            You’re just as dead whether it’s a neocon or a neolib who kills you.

          • Navin_Johnson says:

             I got that fortune cookie once too.

          • class_enemy says:

            The problem seems to be that Republicans by and large (a few excepted) really like the use of executive power to stir up wars around the globe.

            Democrats by and large (a few excepted) hate the use of executive power to stir up wars around the globe when it’s Republicans doing it, but are perfectly OK with the idea when it’s their guy in the White House.

            So the only way that serious objections to this stuff get ginned up is when we’ve elected a Republican.

          • wysinwyg says:

            I can understand where you’re coming from but I think getting us to favor one side over the other is part of the strategy.  I also think one can sensibly argue that while Bush started the wars and pushed to make torture acceptable to the US public, Obama’s continuation of these policies cemented them as bipartisan US government policy.  Whereas a pushback against those policies might have marked Bush & co. as a renegade cabal of war criminals that happened to take the white house for two terms, the acquiescence and “look forward not backward” policies establish that the Bush neocon regime and its policies were entirely legitimate.  Obama has done more than anyone to rehabilitate the Bush administration and whitewash its actions.

            And I suspect Obama knows this.  I also suspect he buys into the neoliberal/neocon Reinhold Niebuhr garbage and agrees that the war in Iraq was necessary and is just happy he didn’t have to be the one to justify it.  In other words, he’s not your ally and you don’t have to waste so much time and attention defending him.

  12. pjcamp says:

    Maybe we can get all the second amendment guys to go out and bang away at the drones. That’ll give them something productive to direct their anger at.

    • Thebes42 says:

      I don’t know that any are going to shoot down drones, but most of us will be damned if we’ll give up our guns while our government claims the power to assassinate us in our own beds.

      Sad that you can’t see that our wanting to keep our guns isn’t about “anger” but rather about basic prudence in seeking to protect against the threat of tyranny possible in any nation, and perhaps more likely in the USA than at any other time in the past century.

      • Donald Petersen says:

        basic prudence in seeking to protect against the threat of tyranny possible in any nation, and perhaps more likely in the USA than at any other time in the past century.

        Whatever objections one might raise against the current administration (and they are legion, even from a lefty like me), the idea of U.S. civilians raising arms against whatever segment of the military comes knockin’ at the compound gate to enforce its tyranny… well, that doesn’t resemble “basic prudence” to my eye.  If prudent voting hasn’t helped your cause and a prudent exit isn’t your style, a prudent suicide mission last-stand sounds oxymoronic.

        • WinstonSmith2012 says:

          “If prudent voting hasn’t helped your cause and a prudent exit isn’t your style, a prudent suicide mission last-stand sounds oxymoronic.”

          Ha!!!  “Prudent” voting takes an intelligent and informed citizenry capable of the critical thought process, something which we don’t have.  Few know what is actually going on in the police state infrastructure realm.  Fewer care.

          “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” — Thomas Jefferson in a 6 January 1816 letter to Charles Yancey

          • Preston Sturges says:

             And yet those are the same arguments used to justify one man rule. 

            I’ll spare you actual quotes lest the Godwin watchdogs get their knickers in a twist.

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        Your gun isn’t going to have any effect on a drone.  Ergo, you’re off-topic.

        Sub-thread terminated.

        • ffabian says:

          Oh my, it starts … killing american sub-threads in american internet domains

        • oasisob1 says:

          “Your gun isn’t going to have any effect on a drone. ” That’s why we NEED and MUST HAVE exotic, high-powered fully-automatic rifles with scopes and lasers and magical corner-turning, armor-piercing, explosive-tipped smart ammunition! With night-vision and hi-speed wireless internet connections.

          • wysinwyg says:

            You’d have better luck with a (perhaps modified) police scanner and directional radio antenna, I think.  All you have to do is jam the connection between the drone and its controller and that doesn’t require anything that’s particularly harmful to human beings or even suspicious to own.

            If drones use GPS I bet spoofing a GPS signal could cause some pretty dramatic failures as well.

        • bill_mcgonigle says:

          Your gun isn’t going to have any effect on a drone.  Ergo, you’re off-topic.

          Ironically, you brought the thread back on-topic.

          Any honest student of history will admit that the 2nd amendment is about defending the People from tyranny as was done in the War for Independence.  Any sane person will admit that arming the People with nuclear weapons (or attack helicopters or hellfire missiles) is a terrible idea too.

          The only sane solution is to return the State to a condition where its armaments don’t outclass those of the People.  Get rid of the nukes, get rid of the attack helicopters, get rid of the hellfire drones.

          AR-15′s are plenty for the National Guard to use, and no foreign power is going to land troops when every household has one.  This strategy has kept Switzerland peaceful for 150 years and they’ve frequently found themselves surrounded by the most insane of insane States.

          As a bonus, such a State can’t play World Police or run an Empire.  It could still feed the world.

          • wysinwyg says:

             Are the Swiss free because they’re armed or because they launder money for “the most insane of insane States”?

      • pjcamp says:

        Well, you’re angry enough that you can’t recognize a joke.

        And crazy enough that you think the US is anywhere close to a tyranny. You discredit your own cause when you make outrageous claims like that since you reveal that you have no fucking clue what “tyranny” actually means.

  13. redesigned says:

    “US may use drones to kill US citizens on US soil but only bad people so don’t worry”
    …because drone overseas only kill bad guys right?  wrong!

    like any technology it isn’t the technology itself that it the problem, it is the bastards that will misuse it.

    remember, drones don’t kill people, drone operators hundreds of miles away kill people with drones.

    • Edward Becerra says:

       Actually, that’s sort of the point, inverted.

      Drones do kill people, the poor drone operator lost control of the drone somehow. Whoops. Accidental discharge. Someone hacked the connection. Et cetera.

      That’s important to remember – distance yourself from the responsibility, and be a faceless operator who’s never to blame.

      “I vas chust follovink orders, the drone is to blame.”

    • awjt says:

       Some hackers in Iran will create a drone-killer.

  14. noggin says:

    What should disturb all of you the most is the administration’s attempts to keep the decision about his authority and his execution of that authority a secret. Secret intelligence, secret assessments of guilt without due process, secret killings. No oversight. What could possibly go wrong?

  15. Preston Sturges says:

    FWIW in the 1790s  President George Washington raised an army to march on the moonshiners in  Pennsylvania, to suppress the Whiskey Rebellion, and potentially kill some tax evaders..  Some people were killed during various riots and protests.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whiskey_Rebellion

    So that happened.

    • bill_mcgonigle says:

      Fortunately the  Posse Comitatus Act should prevent such a thing from happening today.  In theory, anyway – having this conversation belies the real truth.

  16. Chuck says:

    “I think we gotta be careful, here. Now I’ve said before that I don’t like Obama, but I never said he wasn’t clever. He’s definitely clever, I’ll give him that. But I heard somethin’ a caller on a talk radio show said earlier today — and the caller may have been an Obama plant, but I can’t say for sure — but that caller said something about them drones they use in Afghanistan. Them drones can identify if someone is carryin’ an AK-47 from miles away, but not with the best success rate. Only about 40% of the time, according to what that caller said. The rest of the time, the drone will mistake a piece of firewood or scrap metal in someone’s hands as a gun. And I don’t need to tell ya what that means when the Hellfire missiles get launched, but I’ll say it anyway — people who aren’t carryin’ AK-47s get hurt. But if all those little factoids about the drones’ accuracy start circulating around in the media, then the focus is going to get taken off what’s being done with drones in this country, and people will start gripin’ about all the accidents with the drones over in Afghanistan and all the poor innocent people getting killed over there. Then, pretty soon, the wind will start blowin’ in the other direction, one thing will lead to another, and we won’t have any drones anywhere. They’ll all be in the scrap pile. Then, the people in Afghanistan who really do have AK-47s will be able to walk where they want, and they’ll wind up walking across our southern border. Remember when George W. Bush said that we have to fight the terrorists over there so we don’t have to fight them over here? Yeah, it’s kinda like that. And I’ll say it again — they’ll be bringin’ their guns. Those guys over there can buy AK-47s for a couple bucks — it’s like the Old West over there, completely lawless — so believe me when I say they’re going to have plenty of firepower. So that’s why we need the drones watchin’ our border, and why we need to be careful if Obama uses the backlash against his effort to make more drones to outlaw them instead. Failin’ that, we’re gonna need a whole heck of a bunch of guns for ourselves. Everybody knows Obama is tryin’ to disarm the country and hand it over to people we don’t want here, so we gotta be ready. …”

  17. Joey Swails says:

    “It’s extra-judicial assassination!” OK, what we’re talking about then is the basic plot of every James Bond movie ever made: an international terrorist threatens the world, and 007 is sent in to do what? Negotiate diplomatically with Auric Goldfinger or Francisco Scaramanga? Tell them, “you’re under arrest, so kindly turn off the laser cutter aimed at my nuts and come along quietly”?

    No, a double-aught agent has a license to kill. (Goldfinger was even a British citizen, not a KGB agent, as was Hugo Drax and some other Bond villains who ended up on the business end of 007s Walther PPK.) In our culture we cheer this kind of thing on. We like to think that there really are super-spies out there charged with keeping a criminal organization like SPECTRE down.

    Well, in the real world, SPECTRE is Al Qaeda. And instead of Sean Connery or Daniel Craig, we send in flying killbots. And now the DoJ has produced legal papers to sanction these assassinations – in other words, a “License to Kill”.

    Shall we have a picket line at the next Bond movie opening, protesting that MI6 didn’t give Largo and Le Chiffre a chance to surrender to the World Court for trial? Did anyone NOT cheer when Bond dropped Ernst Stavro Blofeld down a smokestack?

    Is just not romantic enough that we use drones instead of dashing secret agents to do the same thing?

    • ffabian says:

      “In our culture we cheer this kind of thing on.”That’s the root of the problem in the US. (not only for drone killings but a lot of other violence related problems)

    • wysinwyg says:

      Yes, the only explanation for enjoying romantic (in the lit crit sense) adventure movies is that they’re actually representative of our deep-seated but almost always concealed political beliefs.  Bond movies couldn’t possibly represent escapism or wish fulfillment rather than serious analysis of international law and morality.

    • bill_mcgonigle says:

      Narrowly constructed, you’re making an MI6 argument for MI5.

  18. jbond says:

    Without passing comment, but please just read this and consider it. From 

    https://plus.google.com/108007903544513887227/posts/ZV3RugyBGLc

    —-
    Consider the hypothetical scenario of an individual sitting in a café on US soil, or just walking down a street, where intelligence thinks they are involved with al-Qaeda or affiliated group, but no evidence of their involvement in any imminent threat at the moment, or they are the 16 year old son of such a person, or a wife cooking a meal for husband who is suspected of being a threat, or neighbour children are playing with children of suspect, or they are a journalist with their cameras in the face of law enforcement trying to do their job, or innocent bystanders trying to be good Samaritans giving first aid to someone they saw getting injured.

    We know the CIA and military have killed such persons on foreign soil.
    —-

  19. heckblazer says:

    The question Holder responded to in his letter to Sen. Paul was whether “the President has the power to authorize lethal force , such as a drone strike, against a US citizen on US soil , and without trial.”  Holder responded yes, with the caveat that it would have to be an unlikely and extreme situation like 9/11. I doubt that sort of scenario is what Sen. Paul had in mind,  but Holder is a lawyer responding to a legal question, so he’s going to answer the question the senator asked him and not the question the senator probably meant to ask him.

    Holder has given simple and direct answers to more specific questions.  In the linked CNN story:
    “In testimony Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, pressed Holder whether he believed it would be constitutional to target an American terror suspect ‘sitting at a cafe’ if the suspect didn’t pose an imminent threat.
    ‘No,’ Holder replied.”

    • bill_mcgonigle says:

      And, as a seasoned lawyer, he knows how the definition of “imminence” has been redefined during Cheney’s four terms.  Durbin alluded to this in his exchange with Dr. Paul.

      • heckblazer says:

        Holder’s follow-up to Rand Paul is more specific:, and doesn’t  play games with “imminence”:

        “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.”
        Sen. Paul says he is satisfied with this answer.

        • Actually it’s worse than imminence – it hinges on the current definition of “enemy combatant” and limits the restriction to the President (currently the National Security Council is authorizing the strikes).  See Christopher Hedges’s lawsuit on behalf of journalists that’s currently being argued.

          Why can’t Holder just say that the US Government is not allowed to execute an American citizen who is not threatening immediate harm to the life of another, without due process of law?  Why the constant use of restrictive clauses and dodges (such as in the recent committee hearing)?  Lawyer games don’t impress anybody.

          • heckblazer says:

            Holder didn’t say anything about “enemy combatants”, or “substantially supporting” , he said specifically “engaged in combat”. I don’t see any lawyer games, it looks to me like Holder finally said what you wanted him to say.

            (edited after accidentally posted)

  20. Zeeba Neighba says:

    Lethal force is already used against U.S. citizens on American soil, and people usually cheer when it happens. For example, when a police sniper takes out a barricaded gunman. There’s no due process there. I could see how a small drone, armed with a light gun, could be the best way of taking out a barricaded gunman firing at people from the top of a tall building.

    Here’s another example. Dick Cheney said he would have authorized military jets to destroy Flight 93 on 9-11 if he’d had the opportunity. Does anyone think that would not have been justified, even though it would have been killing U.S. citizens on American soil? No. So these are the type of extraordinary circumstances Holder is talking about. The fact that Sen. Paul is using his words to insinuate this would become some kind of standard procedure shows just how out of touch he and the rest of paranoid right-wing are.

    • class_enemy says:

       If in every case, our drone killings so far were directed at those currently in the process of committing an act of violence, your argument would be valid.  Can you assert that??

      • Zeeba Neighba says:

        Prove a negative? No, I can’t do that. However, I would point out that the use of drones abroad in what is essentially a war against non-state actors – similar to Jefferson’s actions against the Barbary pirates – do not in any way imply they might be used in a similar way against citizens at home. The National Guard flies jet fighters over U.S. territory all the time and no one fears they’re going to be used against civilians, although some unbalanced types do have a fear of black helicopters.

        • WinstonSmith2012 says:

          “the use of drones abroad in what is essentially a war against non-state actors… do not in any way imply they might be used in a similar way against citizens at home”

          The increasing use of military hardware within civilian police forces would imply that they will.

    • bill_mcgonigle says:

      And Dr. Paul said about every 20 minutes in his speech that nobody is disputing the use of lethal force in such situations and that’s not what he’s talking about.

      • Zeeba Neighba says:

        Then why did he even bother? He’s already answered his own question. From that point on, all he’s doing is giving vent to his own paranoia and making such suspicions seem reasonable to the feeble-minded.

        • bill_mcgonigle says:

          It’s called politics.  He was creating political pressure against the use of martial law in the mainland US.

          • Zeeba Neighba says:

            And where is there evidence for that happening, outside of his own, fevered imagination? What national emergency does he fear is in the offing?  Martial law hasn’t been declared nationally since the Civil War, hasn’t been declared anywhere in half a century and except for Lincoln has always been invoked by state or local authorities, not national ones.

          • You should go watch some of the speech on C-SPAN’s video archive – I’m not able to do as good a job in a brief comment. 

            But the crux of the legal argument is that either Constitutional Rule-of-Law holds in the US or battlefield law (martial law) holds.  If it’s “some of each” then that’s a form of martial law, not a guarantee of Due Process as the 5th Amendment demands as a civil liberty.

            In the modern United States, there will never be a formal declaration of Martial Law,  any more than the USG still declares War before it attacks other nations. This is why it’s so important to be on guard against implicit declarations – the cost for being wrong is minimal; the cost for being right is immense.

          • Preston Sturges says:

            You’re both right, but the current problem that the person who shoots you with an assault rifle is probably not going to be an American soldier but a Ron Paul fan obsessed with “marshal law” and being invaded by the UN.    You’re far more likely to blown up by a white supremacist pipe bomb than a Hellfire missile.

  21. Sam Kephart says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ssoOASanKao

    Emmy-winning journalist, Shad Olson, explores the controversy over U.S. drone policy, both at home and abroad.

    While technological sky supremacy gives America strategic superiority on the battlefield, the prospect of drone proliferation over U.S. cities is causing concern about loss of privacy, an end to Habeas Corpus and judicial due process and the destruction of Constitutional rights.

    South Dakota U.S. Senator John Thune and former U.S. Senate candidate, Sam Kephart share their views about the consequences of domestic drone deployment in the fight against terrorism. 

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