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Holder argues Congressional authorization is unnecessary to kill Americans, Executive Branch can do what it wants

President Barack Obama's (D) Attorney General, Eric Holder, dropped a bombshell this week, revealing [PDF] that he did consider it acceptable to kill Americans with drone deathstrikes on U.S. soil, but only under "extraordinary" circumstances.  

I. A Time to Kill?

He says that such plots had never been performed in the homeland to date.  But several Americans have reportedly been killed with drone strikes in the Middle East during the Obama regime was elected into power in 2008.

AG Holder's comments came in response to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Tenn.).   Sen. Paul had promised to stall the nomination of John Brennan to become director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.  Mr. Brennan is a controversial figure who helped mastermind the program of drone deathstrikes and "enhanced interrogation" (torture) programs in the Middle East.

Eric Holder
AG Eric Holder told Sen. Rand Paul that "hypothetically" drone strikes could be used on U.S. soil to kill Americans. [Image Source: AP]

In his letter to Sen. Paul, seeking to clarify when drone strikes would be allowed, AG Holder writes:

The question you posed is.... entirely hypothetical, unlikely to occur, and one we hope no President will ever have to confront.  It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States.

Holder goes on to point to Pearl Harbor and the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001 as examples of the kinds of threats that might require Americans to be ordered killed by the President.

II. Armed and Ready, Flying Over Your Backyard

Since the middle of the last decade, military-grade drones have been flying over U.S. states, ostensibly for use in countering drug trafficking and other forms of crime.  Of late, some of these drones have been reportedly armed.

Reaper drones
Reaper drones are currently being used over U.S. airspace. [Image Source: The Real Revo]

There are currently no formal laws passed by Congress governing whom and be killed and when – if the President's premise that death strikes on Americans does not violate Constitutional due process holds true.  Further, such strikes appear entirely at the discretion of the President, the military, and the national intelligence agencies -- Congress is not in the loop.

That seems rather curious.  The Constitution is unequivocal in that Congress alone has the power to authorize the use of deadly military force.  Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, the foundation of the U.S. government, clearly grants Congress the power:

U.S. Constitution
[Image Source: EL Civics]

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;

To provide and maintain a navy;

To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;

To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;

However, according to President Obama and his staff's logic, that power has now been transferred to the executive branch, and what's more, it can be used to kill Americans without a trial on U.S. soil.

Obama upset
The Obama administration argues sometimes American citizens may need to be killed without due process, both abroad and at home. [Image Source: Matt Ortega/Flickr]

The Obama adminstration executed a similar privilege overseas at least once -- ordering a drone strike that killed suspected al-Qaeda terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki, who happened to also be a New Mexico-born U.S. citizen.  Other Americans were also killed in other drone strikes, but it is unclear whether those killings were ordered or mere inadvertent attrition.

III. Some Upset About Obama's New Power to Kill Americans

Sen. Paul was not happy with the Obama administration's plan to grant itself the power to kill, and to cut Congress out of the loop.  He comments, "The U.S. attorney general's refusal to rule out the possibility of drone strikes on American citizens and on American soil is more than frightening. It is an affront to the constitutional due process rights of all Americans."

Predator missile
Some in the Senate feel the President shouldn't have the power to order the killings of Americans on U.S. soil. [Image Source: Drone Wars UK]

But some of his colleagues weren't so harsh.  Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) praised the President's decision to hand over memos detailing when drone strikes were allowable.

The Obama administration had previously asked its press secretaries to lie about the existence of the memos, claiming they didn't exist.  In light of the disclosure, the Senators say in a joint statement, "We are pleased that we now have the access that we have long sought and need to conduct the vigilant oversight with which the committee has been charged. We believe that this sets an important precedent for applying our American system of checks and balances to the challenges of 21st century warfare. We look forward to reviewing and discussing these documents in the days ahead."

The Senate now moves on to debate Mr. Brennan's confirmation, following his confirmation by the Senate Intelligence Committee.  There will likely be lively debate from Sen. Paul, et al., during Mr. Brennan's confirmation hearing before the full Senate.

The debate brings to mind the words of George Orwell in an essay on wartime Britain, who wrote, "As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me."

Sources: Sen. Rand Paul [PDF], [Press Release], Sen. Wyden, et al.



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Can Someone Explain?
By Helbore on 3/6/2013 1:04:07 PM , Rating: 3
I'm not an American, so I'm not that well-versed in US law. Can someone explain exactly what the issue is, as this article makes it sound like some Orwellian Big Brother nightmare! All the talk over Obama's "regime" and killing Americans without a trial sounds like sensationalism to make this sound worse than it is. An American pointing a gun at a cop is likely to get killed without a trial, for example.

Is this simply a matter of who has the authority to make the decision to use deadly force on citizens? Or is it a matter of turning the military on the population? If the drone was owned by the police force, would it be ok for it to be used against dangerous members of the public?




RE: Can Someone Explain?
By Spookster on 3/6/2013 1:25:22 PM , Rating: 2
Although I didn't vote for Obama and don't like him this is just sensationalism as you stated. You could pose the same question to any of the previous presidential administrations and have gotten or would get the same response that they would use the US military to defend against any terroristic threat that occurs within our own borders. And the fact that they are using drones in this article is silly. You can replace the word "drone" with any other aircraft or weapon system in the US arsenal and get the same response to this question. It just happens that drones are the media buzzword of the year so they are required to use it to meet their quota of using buzzwords that stir up controversy. If they had said the US is going to use F-15 strikes on US soil everybody would be like, mmm ok whatever but when you use the word drone everybody is like "oh my gosh it's so much scarier it's a drone. Eek."


RE: Can Someone Explain?
By TSS on 3/6/2013 8:36:43 PM , Rating: 1
Any of the previous administrations didn't sign a bill into law that authorizes the infinite detention of american civilians without trial on american soil. Nor try and justify such a thing by "well i won't use it", or (succesfully) defend it in the courts. Obama did all these things.

And yes, a drone is definitly scarier. The operator, if any because these things are moving closer and closer to automation, is further removed from the actual killing then ever before. When you're talking a F15 you're talking a highly trained, highly intelligent individual having to come to terms then to decide to fire on american citizens. You don't need all that to fly an quadrocopter with a cam.

The legislation carries as much for quadrocopters with a handgun as for predator drones carrying missiles. I'd hardly think they'd use this legisation to just blow a house up outright, otherwise it'd be done with fighter jets already. And police forces in the US have jumped on surveilance drones as much as civilians have.

Then there's the administration, both this and the previous's spotty record and defining exactly who's a terrorist and who's not. Or have we collectively forgotten those airport terrorist watchlists with old grandma's and young children on it?

Look, obviously the administration isn't picking people off the streets to dissapear forever in some dungeon somewhere. But the legislation they are passing or trying to pass is pointing very clearly towards that direction instead of the opposite one. You better speak up and think about this now while everything is still relatively peachy.

Because what will the administration decide when the economy *really* tanks because of hyperinflation? They will get lynched first chance the people get so they will defend themselves. Anybody who's a threat to the regime will become a "terrorist" and suddenly, there's already a framework in place to kill whoever they want.

And hyperinflation *is* going to happen. To the tune where even mainstream propaganda channels are already talking about it:http://money.cnn.com/2013/03/05/news/economy/middl...

Mind you that's the same site that 2 articles later claims house prices are "finally back to normal".

Think up and think hard. This couldn't even be a possibility 20 years ago. It was conspiracy theory talk, those who belived it where nuts. The fact that it's moved from the realm of impossible to reasonably likely, should worry you and everybody enough to do something about it.


RE: Can Someone Explain?
By MadMan007 on 3/6/2013 8:49:34 PM , Rating: 2
Haha, that article! I saw it repeated on another site. They couldn't have started with a worse example of 'middle class' though
quote:
...considering her husband's 112-mile daily round-trip commute to his job as a pharmacist
A pharmacist's salary alone puts a household firmly above 'middle class'.

Not that I disagree with the rest of the article, but it's more about the increasingly unequal distribution of income (note *increasingly*) than it is about inflation. The 'rising tides raise all ships' that people have been fed is a lie and it blows my mind when people defend the very practices and policies that are hurting them.


RE: Can Someone Explain?
By thurston2 on 3/7/2013 9:35:04 PM , Rating: 2
As Stephen Colbert said 'rising tides raise all ships' as long as you have enough money to buy a ship.


RE: Can Someone Explain?
By Spookster on 3/7/2013 12:30:14 PM , Rating: 2
Do you use the heavy duty aluminum foil or just double wrap with regular?


RE: Can Someone Explain?
By JasonMick (blog) on 3/6/2013 1:27:40 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
I'm not an American, so I'm not that well-versed in US law. Can someone explain exactly what the issue is, as this article makes it sound like some Orwellian Big Brother nightmare! All the talk over Obama's "regime" and killing Americans without a trial sounds like sensationalism to make this sound worse than it is. An American pointing a gun at a cop is likely to get killed without a trial, for example.
Fair enough. Let me explain to you.

In your analogy you pose an imminent threat to the cop and he responds with deadly force.

Note, not once in his explanation did AG Holder make any mention explicitly that imminent danger would be required to justify a drone killing.

That leaves the door open to preemptive assassinations on U.S. soil (read the letter for yourself if you don't believe me).

To modify your analogy, that's like you're sitting in your home, but the cop decides that you're a menace to society and now takes matters into his own hands, busts down your door and sprays you with cold lead, leaving you bleeding and dead.

See the difference?

The CIA has a database called the "disposition matrix", which is thought to control when preemptive assassinations against U.S. born terrorists are authorized. Such strikes are generally preeemptive, and without imminent threat, as in the case of the Yemen killing of Anwar al-Awlaki.

Clearly you see the difference now between self-defense to an imminent danger, and preemptive killings of Americans you think may be planning an attack/part of a terrorist group.


RE: Can Someone Explain?
By Helbore on 3/6/2013 1:51:09 PM , Rating: 2
I can see the difference in what you describe there. That wasn't what I got from the article, though.

Continuing with the analogies, the article read like Holder had said that he didn't rule out the possibility of a cop being allowed to shoot an American citizen in certain extreme circumstances. Obviously, he would be right in such a claim and it happens all the time.

Without reading all the source material (and I shouldn't really have to in order to understand the article), its not clear that we are discussing pre-emptive military assassinations of potential terrorists.I'll explain why;

The article spends time concentrating on who has the authority to use force against the US population. It talks about how the constitution states that congress should have that authority, but Obama's administration is suggesting it belongs to the Executive. If this information is relevant, it makes it sound like congress actually has the right to use military force against US citizens.

If the actual point is about assassinating possible terrorist suspects who are also American citizens, it now sounds like the implication is that congress has the right to give such an order. I would assume it actually doesn't.

Hence the reason this seemed to be more about who has the authority, rather than whether excessive force was being suggested.

As you said;

quote:
To modify your analogy, that's like you're sitting in your home, but the cop decides that you're a menace to society and now takes matters into his own hands, busts down your door and sprays you with cold lead, leaving you bleeding and dead.


The article comes across like someone making this claim in response to a politician saying that police should carry guns because they will occasionally have to use them. Most would accept that no-one was suggesting allowing the cops to shoot anyone they didn't like the look of, though.


RE: Can Someone Explain?
By ClownPuncher on 3/6/2013 2:36:01 PM , Rating: 2
The job of police officers is to apprehend and bring criminals to their fair trial by law. A drone strike would be the authorization of execution without trial.


RE: Can Someone Explain?
By ssnova703 on 3/6/2013 2:44:46 PM , Rating: 2
Where does one draw the line?

An American can peacefully cry out, "we need change". Then the next thing you know is their on this matrix and then taken out because they are scene as a potential threat... this is madness.


RE: Can Someone Explain?
By ClownPuncher on 3/6/2013 3:36:28 PM , Rating: 2
Unfortunately, individualism is bullied and rolled over by populists and collectivists the world around. We drew the line at the end of the 18th century, now people willfully ignore it due to "LOL those old wig wearing slave owners".


RE: Can Someone Explain?
By JasonMick (blog) on 3/6/2013 2:46:21 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
A drone strike would be the authorization of execution without trial.

Judge Dredd:
"I am your judge, jury, jailer, and if necessary, your executioner."


RE: Can Someone Explain?
By ClownPuncher on 3/6/2013 3:38:35 PM , Rating: 2
Yep. It doesn't matter whether you're an armed "combatant" or someone fed up with their government. If you're a citizen of the US, you're afforded the same rights as everyone else until a court can prove otherwise.


RE: Can Someone Explain?
By DT_Reader on 3/6/2013 4:19:54 PM , Rating: 2
Not anymore. If you live within 100 miles of our border (which I and about 175 million of my fellow Americans do) the DHS has stated the 4th Amendment does not apply to you. So far the courts have backed them, or at least haven't stopped them. We have border patrol agents driving around the Olympic peninsula - why? They won't say. Must be to catch those Mexicans swimming across the Strait of Juan de Fuca.


RE: Can Someone Explain?
By ClownPuncher on 3/6/2013 4:22:33 PM , Rating: 2
Can you hit me with a link? I had no idea we had border patrol agents stalking the peninsula.


RE: Can Someone Explain?
By Solandri on 3/6/2013 4:43:40 PM , Rating: 2
http://www.forbes.com/sites/tarunwadhwa/2013/02/14...

Also, it's not 100 miles of the border. It's 100 miles from a port of entry. So in addition to the borders, draw a 100 mile radius around every airport in the U.S. accepting international flights.


RE: Can Someone Explain?
By GulWestfale on 3/6/13, Rating: -1
RE: Can Someone Explain?
By ClownPuncher on 3/6/2013 5:38:40 PM , Rating: 2
What are you on about? I ragged on Bush all the time. That guy was scum. I'm not a dirty Conservative, I'm a shiny and glorious Libertarian!

In other news, you're a bit of a jerk.


RE: Can Someone Explain?
By Reclaimer77 on 3/6/2013 5:47:04 PM , Rating: 2
It doesn't matter clown. 5 years later "Bush" is still the go-to rebuke of any criticism of Obama. Either these people are THAT full of hate for the man still, or it's a pathetic defensive diversion.


RE: Can Someone Explain?
By ClownPuncher on 3/6/2013 5:52:24 PM , Rating: 2
There is definitely a trend of avoiding the issue at hand by saying "But the last guy did it too!".

These progressives are just going to have to face the fact that Obama and his crew suck.


RE: Can Someone Explain?
By KCjoker on 3/6/2013 6:39:55 PM , Rating: 2
1 Ok, so long as they go for Chris Matthews first since he's far worse.

2 If you're talking about the Patriot Act Obama voted FOR it when he was a Senator at the time. More importantly as the President he RENEWED it.

3 Nobody complained because he WAS a terrorist.

Bottom line bush sucked as our President and unbelievably obama is worse.


RE: Can Someone Explain?
By Reclaimer77 on 3/6/2013 7:36:45 PM , Rating: 2
Believe it or not Chris Matthews isn't even the worst anymore. Piers Morgan is absolutely the biggest douchebag in all of media.

Agree with your other points as well.


RE: Can Someone Explain?
By MadMan007 on 3/7/2013 6:56:16 AM , Rating: 2
To put it another way...

"Guy I disagree with is worse than the guy you disagree with."


RE: Can Someone Explain?
By thurston2 on 3/7/2013 9:42:45 PM , Rating: 2
One thing you are missing is that the article is supposed to be sensationalist to draw more views. Dailytech posts sensationalist articles that pander to a group of right-wingers that like to frequent the site posting all day about how much Obama and the left suck.


RE: Can Someone Explain?
By Samus on 3/6/2013 5:47:16 PM , Rating: 2
Oh Jason, you would have made a great Journalist for Fox News.


RE: Can Someone Explain?
By Beenthere on 3/6/13, Rating: 0
RE: Can Someone Explain?
By Ammohunt on 3/6/2013 3:29:42 PM , Rating: 3
If this were the only incident of talk like this I might not be as concerned but the fact is there is a trail of this type of talk since Obama took office including his idea to create an ARMY as strong as the military controlled by civilians. With the recent gigantic ammunition and weapons purchases by the DHS and other agencies it make you wonder if such an idea was brought into existence.


RE: Can Someone Explain?
By Skywalker123 on 3/6/2013 7:33:31 PM , Rating: 2
Dont worry about Beenthere's opinion, he's an idiot/troll.


RE: Can Someone Explain?
By JediJeb on 3/7/2013 3:33:24 PM , Rating: 2
I heard on the news that DHS also just got 2700 new armored personnel carriers of the MRAP type for deployment within the country. That is rather disturbing.


RE: Can Someone Explain?
By kerpwnt on 3/6/2013 4:10:05 PM , Rating: 4
Shouldn't be concerned? What about collateral damage? What about The Fifth Amendment? This is about U.S. citizens on U.S. soil. There is no oversight of these proposed drone strikes, let alone due process.

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law ; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Obviously the President has perfect/God-like judgement, so due process doesn't matter...

Holder's domestic drone strikes are still hypothetical, but the proposition reeks of a willingness to subvert human rights. This, and the fact that he stands behind Fast and Furious (selling/giving guns to Mexican cartels), have me convinced that Mr. Holder is not concerned about endangering us to achieve his goals.


RE: Can Someone Explain?
By tng on 3/6/2013 5:16:54 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You are correct this is a bunch of nonsense over nothing. All it does is allow special government authorities to use a drone in the U.S. if absolutely necessary.
Who would deem it necessary? POTUS, Congress, DHS, FBI, DOJ, or any number of armed federal agencies that could possibly need such services?

Where is the line that you or I could cross to be the target of such a strike? Obviously that line is not well defined which means that in conjunction with other laws that have been passed/renewed in the past 2 years, you or the guy in the house next door could be named a terrorists for simply using a bad choice of words.

Yeah, there are allot of us out here in the US that are paranoid, but with good reason. Such laws are prone to abuse at the hands of someone who may only have their own best interests in mind.


RE: Can Someone Explain?
By Ringold on 3/7/2013 12:16:41 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
An American pointing a gun at a cop is likely to get killed without a trial, for example.


Yes, likely to be killed by the cop, or other law enforcement officers.

America's founders drew a stark distinction between the military and law enforcement. They suffered first hand from soldiers and the militaries methods of law enforcement, and saw others suffer back in Europe. The federal government, specifically the military anyway, was not supposed to be placed in the role of dispensing justice. Our military is not trained it, its not their job, and nor should it be.

As much as I support the military, ask the average Okinawan what they think of teenage young men with guns having that sort of authority.

As you point out, if we were talking about police-owned drones using a weapon in an emergency situation, this would be a totally different sort of discussion. It's only that the federal government is trying to reserve this power for their self that it's a problem.

And for all the typical apologists here saying its no big deal, they're only betraying their usual ignorance of history when central governments get this sort of authority. It eventually gets abused, always, as all government power does. That was the whole idea behind the constitution, to limit its powers and thus limit the scope for abuse, but of course they don't comprehend that.


RE: Can Someone Explain?
By Jeffk464 on 3/8/2013 12:54:15 AM , Rating: 2
Yup, the founders new that people in power can tend to be self serving Aholes. Somewhere along the way we forgot about this and forgot the underlying reason the founders put all the protections in the first place.


RE: Can Someone Explain?
By Jeffk464 on 3/8/2013 12:55:33 AM , Rating: 2
knew - argh

really need an edit button


RE: Can Someone Explain?
By marvdmartian on 3/7/2013 10:06:45 AM , Rating: 2
This article states:
quote:
That seems rather curious. The Constitution is unequivocal in that Congress alone has the power to authorize the use of deadly military force. Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, the foundation of the U.S. government, clearly grants Congress the power


but that's not really where I hear people making their argument against this policy. While it prevents the military from striking on US soil, without permission from Congress, it says nothing about any other government entities doing so. Who's to say the FBI can't shoot you up with a drone??

The US Constitution's 4th Amendment is what should disallow this sort of action.
quote:
The Fourth Amendment (Amendment IV) to the United States Constitution is the part of the Bill of Rights which guards against unreasonable searches and seizures, along with requiring any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause. It was adopted as a response to the abuse of the writ of assistance, which is a type of general search warrant, in the American Revolution. Search and seizure (including arrest) should be limited in scope according to specific information supplied to the issuing court, usually by a law enforcement officer, who has sworn by it. The Fourth Amendment applies to the states by way of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

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

The 4th Amendment has been interpreted, by SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States), to mean that the government cannot punish its citizens without having them go through due process. Meaning you have to have probable cause, arrest them, prosecute them, and have them found guilty by a jury of their peers, all while preserving any other rights they're given by the US Constitution.

In other words, no man shall be given the sole role of judge, jury and executioner.

THIS is what makes this whole thing stink of a conspiracy by the executive branch, to do whatever they deem necessary, while ignoring the parts of the Constitution they find bothersome.

Killing citizens who have turned their back on their country, moved overseas, and are actively plotting/taking action against their country is in somewhat of a gray area. Doing so on American soil? You've moved out of that gray area, and directly violated that person's Constitutional rights.


RE: Can Someone Explain?
By Jeffk464 on 3/8/2013 12:33:38 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
An American pointing a gun at a cop is likely to get killed without a trial, for example


Or an american pointing a water nozzle not at a cop


RE: Can Someone Explain?
By Jeffk464 on 3/8/2013 12:37:05 AM , Rating: 2
Why would you use a drone to go after a suspected terrorist/dissident in the US? You would just have the police pick them up right? The reason you use drones in foreign countries is that those countries are hostile and would likely try to kill the people you send to pick whomever up, right?


RE: Can Someone Explain?
By thurston2 on 3/9/2013 1:18:01 PM , Rating: 2
Since Jason won't post anything positive about the administration I will.
arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/03/obama-adminis tration-supports-journalist-arrested-after-recordin g-cops/


OK, now this is too far.
By retrospooty on 3/6/2013 12:47:59 PM , Rating: 2
I was OK with it, to get some clown who joined up with Al Qaeda, but WTF are they trying to get at within our borders? If its here, send the cops, feds, FBI, CIA, [Gary Oldman] EVERYONE!!! [/Gary Oldman] But a drone strike?

Obama, every week that goes by you get worse and worse. Now that he doesnt have to worry about winning an election, he has nothing stopping him from over teh line crap like this. WFT... WTF!




By Brandon Hill (blog) on 3/6/2013 12:50:58 PM , Rating: 3
"I like these calm little moments before the storm. It reminds me of Beethoven. Can you hear it? It's like when you put your head to the grass and you can hear the growin' and you can hear the insects. Do you like Beethoven?"


RE: OK, now this is too far.
By svenkesd on 3/6/13, Rating: 0
RE: OK, now this is too far.
By MadMan007 on 3/6/2013 1:06:22 PM , Rating: 1
The language Holder used in his letter to Paul clearly stated 'Extraordinary circumstances' with 9/11 as an example. And that's a good example, because I don't believe many people would have objected if the third plane had been shot down by the Air Force before hitting its target. That it was taken down by passengers was brave, but this question would have been answered over ten years ago if they hadn't.

What would you think if a President authorized lethal force against a hijacked airplane that was on a suicide mission, killing hundreds of Americans? Would you object?


RE: OK, now this is too far.
By retrospooty on 3/6/2013 1:09:59 PM , Rating: 2
"What would you think if a President authorized lethal force against a hijacked airplane that was on a suicide mission, killing hundreds of Americans? Would you object?"

Not at all, but that falls under "defense" and doesnt need to be talked about before hand or authorized like this. The president makes a call and sends the air force. This actually happened on 911, but too late to stop anything. Why is there a need to pre-determine drone strikes on US soil? Something isnt right.


RE: OK, now this is too far.
By JasonMick (blog) on 3/6/2013 1:18:05 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Not at all, but that falls under "defense" and doesnt need to be talked about before hand or authorized like this. The president makes a call and sends the air force. This actually happened on 911, but too late to stop anything. Why is there a need to pre-determine drone strikes on US soil? Something isnt right.
Precisely, they're disguising this under the disguise of self-defense against some sort of imminent threat, and yet they refuse to clearly say when strikes CAN NOT be used, just give cherry-picked examples of past attacks (like 9/11) designed to evoke an emotion reaction.

That's the same tactic Bush used to justify the PATRIOT Act
("We must pass this bill to prevent another 9/11!")

In reality the killings appear to be independent of imminent threat, to a degree. The CIA has a special database called the "disposition matrix" that was outed this year to be the source of pre-determined orders to kill Americans.

If you get put in the database with an order to kill, based on AG Holder's comments, I'd expect you to be on the receiving end of a drone missile -- either in the U.S. or overseas.

This is neither direct self-defense nor due process of any kind. There's no clear rules. And Congress has essentially no control over who is killed.

Sound okay still?

Source on "disposition matrix" and the CIA:
http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2013/01/brennan-ci...


RE: OK, now this is too far.
By RufusM on 3/6/2013 2:16:52 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, the definition of "extraordinary circumstance" has a lot of leeway with no real fences around it.

Does that mean they can only strike a citizen who has a WMD and is threatening to detonate it?

Does it mean they can strike a citizen who may be on the run from the government, whom they deem is an imminent threat?

Does it mean they can strike a citizen who has verbally threatened the government but hasn't taken any real action?

In all cases it leaves the definition as to what an extraordinary circumstance is to those that order the strikes. The definition can be made up as they go.


RE: OK, now this is too far.
By MadMan007 on 3/6/2013 1:46:46 PM , Rating: 2
First, the need to pre-determine drone strikes is to answer the legal questions before it happens (if it ever does) rather than after.

You need to think of the 9/11 plane less specifically, as an example, not the specifics of that incident. You call it 'defense' and that's the reason it's used as an example. You can imagine how this might play out in other domestic terrorist incidents.

Take Timothy McVeigh...if the authorities had known about his plot while he was sitting at his house with the truck loaded up, they wouldn't have used a drone strike, they would have gone in with a bunch of FBI, SWAT, or whatever. But once the truck was rolling, if one way to stop it for sure was a drone strike, then a drone strike would be an option. Again, that's the reason 9/11 is used as an example. They wouldn't have used drones if they'd been able to catch the terrorists on the ground before they hijacked the planes but that's what everyone crying foul seems to think.

A country like Yemen is obviously a different overall situation than the US. There is no allied police force, FBI, etc in Yemen to go to as first options like there is in the US.

(please think about it as an example and don't make pedantic arguments like 'they would have made a roadblock'...it's a legal thought experiment of the exact kind these officials are doing in their communications.)


RE: OK, now this is too far.
By bh192012 on 3/6/2013 7:06:47 PM , Rating: 2
In your scenario, McVeigh is executed while actively attacking. However that's not what we're discussing here with the drone strikes. Suspected al-Qaeda terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki was assassinated from above, even though he was not driving a truck full of fertilizer. "U.S. government officials have alleged that he was a senior talent recruiter and motivator" He was not a fighter, he was an idea guy. Not to mention this is all ALLEGED.

Are we to drone strike people who raise money for al-Qaeda (and their family?) Without a trial? There really really needs to be a trial of some kind for anyone not wielding a weapon. It's in the constitution.


RE: OK, now this is too far.
By MadMan007 on 3/6/2013 9:00:58 PM , Rating: 2
Try reading the entire post
quote:
A country like Yemen is obviously a different overall situation than the US. There is no allied police force, FBI, etc in Yemen to go to as first options like there is in the US.


RE: OK, now this is too far.
By Reclaimer77 on 3/6/2013 7:23:13 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Take Timothy McVeigh...if the authorities had known about his plot while he was sitting at his house with the truck loaded up, they wouldn't have used a drone strike, they would have gone in with a bunch of FBI, SWAT, or whatever. But once the truck was rolling, if one way to stop it for sure was a drone strike, then a drone strike would be an option.


Dangerous thinking imo.

Just like the Waco branch dividians. Hey, we "know" they are up to something. Not sure what, but umm, it's probably bad. So let's send in the tanks and the National Guard and burn them all alive, the women and children too, before they actually commit these crimes...

That's the "problem" with these pesky things like just-cause and reasonable suspicion. But they should still be upheld.


RE: OK, now this is too far.
By MadMan007 on 3/6/2013 8:59:46 PM , Rating: 2
That's a poor comparison and a very different situation from the scenario I outlined. What happened in Waco wasn't right, and there was fallout from it if you don't recall.


RE: OK, now this is too far.
By Reclaimer77 on 3/7/2013 10:18:04 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
What happened in Waco wasn't right, and there was fallout from it if you don't recall.


What fallout? The same old cover-your-ass political brinksmaship. A few people lost their jobs, because someone has to take the fall so the real villains can get off scot-free. A few lawsuits. A little outrage for about a week in the media, then back to our regularly scheduled programming.

80 people died! No, correction: 80 Americans were massacred. Fallout? Please! Janet Reno didn't even lose her job. She should have been executed!


RE: OK, now this is too far.
By theapparition on 3/6/2013 1:23:18 PM , Rating: 2
The President is Commander in Chief of the armed forces.

If congress authorizes the use of military action to protect our borders (an example), then the President is certainly within his rights to authorize action, including drone strikes.

Personally, I think this is political grandstanding. Each administration looks to improve it's powers. The Bush administration found a loophole by holding "armed combatants" off US soil. The Obama administration isn't doing anything different in that regard. What I hate is the hypocrisy of both parties, who lambaste the other side for similar things they approved when their party was in the White House.

If you liked Bush, then you found a way to justify waterboarding. If you like Obama, you'll find a way to justify drone strikes on Americans. Each is on dangerous legal footing, IMHO.

Both parties are the same. They may have different ways they want to go, but the destination seems to be the same.


RE: OK, now this is too far.
By JediJeb on 3/7/2013 4:51:22 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If congress authorizes the use of military action to protect our borders (an example), then the President is certainly within his rights to authorize action, including drone strikes.


That one little two letter word is what this whole discussion boils down to. Seems the Executive branch is currently working under the assumption that since the President is Commander-in-Chief of the military then he has the rights whether or not Congress authorizes first. The past few Presidents( not just the last two) have all done something as a run around on Congress concerning the military.

In the position of head of the military, the President would be considered part of the military, which would make him fall under the reigns of Congress as far as what he is allowed to do with the military. This was written into the Constitution to keep the civilians in charge of the military's actions.


RE: OK, now this is too far.
By Reclaimer77 on 3/6/2013 2:30:09 PM , Rating: 2
Hey retro, I like you, but I'm going to have to give you a big "fuck you" for roasting me over the coals for this weeks ago. Now you're saying the exact same thing as I was.

I want an apology, no BS, no backpedaling, save us both the aggravation and man up.

quote:
Now that he doesnt have to worry about winning an election, he has nothing stopping him from over teh line crap like this. WFT... WTF!


Gee this sounds familiar :)


RE: OK, now this is too far.
By retrospooty on 3/6/2013 6:48:35 PM , Rating: 2
1st off... You were right, and I was wrong, I can admit that. You were also right 5 years ago when you were all over Obama for being shitty on the economy and I was saying give him a chance, and the benefit of the doubt, he hasn't affected anything yet... You were totally right. I couldn't be less let down by the horrible job he has done on it...

I don't think I "roasted you over the coals" I saw it as a debate and a point were differed on. Never anything personal meant. We can disagree and be civil, even when we angrily disagree... I do apologize if I came off that way.

FFS, its like every week that goes by its another ridiculous thing this Pres. is hitting us with, or gettign found out about, or trying to hide... So much for openness. Another thing you were right on. Gee this sounds familiar :)

I dont even know what else to say aboiut Obama... Just WTF? http://retrospooty.imgur.com/all/

WTF!!!


RE: OK, now this is too far.
By retrospooty on 3/6/2013 6:49:43 PM , Rating: 2
Damn... Wrong like... This was my WTF link.

http://i.imgur.com/STxIW.jpg


RE: OK, now this is too far.
By Reclaimer77 on 3/6/2013 6:59:27 PM , Rating: 2
Wow you said way more than I ever expected lol. We're cool now :)

It just gets a little frustrating when you have a legitimate concern about something, and the whole "oh come on, you Faux news nutcase bla bla bla" is constantly used to shut you up. Ya know?

lol epic pic! WTF is right :)


RE: OK, now this is too far.
By retrospooty on 3/6/2013 7:44:14 PM , Rating: 2
I can admit when I am wrong... sometimes ;)

I really never imagined he would be THIS bad. FFS, there is no denying it, even for a guy like me that voted for him in 08. By 2011, I was positive I wouldn't vote for him again. Today, I cant even stand to listen to him. Another lie machine like all the others...

Obama... Change. The only thing he changed was his stance on "Change".


RE: OK, now this is too far.
By Reclaimer77 on 3/6/2013 7:57:40 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I really never imagined he would be THIS bad.


If it makes you feel better, neither did I :(


RE: OK, now this is too far.
By Mint on 3/7/2013 6:15:37 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
You were also right 5 years ago when you were all over Obama for being shitty on the economy and I was saying give him a chance, and the benefit of the doubt, he hasn't affected anything yet... You were totally right. I couldn't be less let down by the horrible job he has done on it...
Shitty on the economy? Why, because of your flawed comparisons to the past?

For 25 years we lived in a fantasy world that had to come to an end. Ever since the Reagan tax cuts, the private debt has been exploding to the tune of 15-25% of GDP per year. This is by design from conservative economists, as they argue that the savings from the rich (which necessarily turn into bank loans) pay for house construction, production equipment, etc and grow the economy. It's all done through private debt.

It worked, and we'd been benefiting from it for decades. Our economic models assumed that debt was irrelevant because one man's debt is another man's asset, and if the supply of debt ever went well below demand (i.e. near 0% interest), savers would spend/invest instead.

Well, that assumption has been blown to bits. We were truly dependent on the $2-4T of our economy each year that was paid for by lending money that the wealthy had no reason to otherwise spend/invest (that's why it was in the bank). By 2007, the annual private debt increase exceeded one quarter of GDP. So tell me, how is Obama supposed to replace all that economic activity financed by debt creation?

Corporate investment into equipment is at an all-time high. The tax burden was at a historic low. Near zero interest and excess reserves prove that not a single dollar lent to the gov't has robbed private investment, because there's still too much idle capital.

So what more could he do? The fact that the economy shrank by far less than 25% tells me that without his action it would have been far worse.


RE: OK, now this is too far.
By Reclaimer77 on 3/7/2013 10:09:05 AM , Rating: 2
Mint give it up. The economy has sucked under Obama, no matter how you want to slice it.


RE: OK, now this is too far.
By retrospooty on 3/7/2013 6:42:28 PM , Rating: 2
No argument he inherited the worst mess since the great depression, but what did he do to make it better? All he did was make things worse. He has been an absolute wreck on the economy. Our problem is debt, which is caused by reckless govt. spending and he has done nothing to stop that. He promised he would. He hasn't done anything about lobbyists that control congress, the debt, the spending problem, transparency in govt, nothing he promised... And dont get me wrong, I am no right wing nutjob, I did vote for Obama in 08 and I did think he was going to do well. I couldn't have been more wrong and I couldn't be more let down by the crap job he has done.


Reap what you sow
By Dorkyman on 3/6/2013 12:54:08 PM , Rating: 3
I didn't vote for Messiah, but a lot of you did.

I saw that he was a svengali with dangerous ideas; lots of people thought he was cool, and black to boot--how better to cleanse our souls of the stain of slavery?

Not surprised in the least that he would want to increase and consolidate his power. Will also not be surprised if he follows through on an idea in one of his campaign speeches to create a civilian army of brownshirts to maintain order.




RE: Reap what you sow
By JasonMick (blog) on 3/6/2013 1:12:15 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
I didn't vote for Messiah, but a lot of you did.
I'd be careful with such talk, lest the FBI/NSA decide you are a terrorist dissident and slate you for extermination by drone strike.

Or at least complete that bomb shelter first... YOLO! ;)

...............

On a serious note I honestly think that Mitt Romney would have done the same thing, given his support of warrantless wiretapping and other seemingly unconsitutional abuses in the name "fighting terrorism".

Romney famously said that Americans should be thank for the greatest right given to them by the U.S. gov't -- "the right to be kept alive."

With that kind of rhetoric I doubt he would have had much of a problem w overseas killings, though I'm not so sure about domestic ones.

Then again, some of us didn't vote for Messiah or Mormon Messiah....


RE: Reap what you sow
By Reclaimer77 on 3/6/2013 2:42:38 PM , Rating: 2
And once again, nobody can criticize what Obama is doing without a Bush and/or Romney defense now.

Dude authorizing wiretapping and using drones with attack missiles on US soil are at the polar opposites of the extreme meter. Saying you think Romney would have done the same thing here is kind of reckless. There's no evidence to even suggest such a course of action. He would have an entirely different Administration, advisers, etc etc. There's just no telling imo.

Romney lost, we can speculate all day on what he might have done, but the fact is Obama is President. And he's the one responsible for this here, today, in the now.


RE: Reap what you sow
By MadMan007 on 3/6/2013 2:47:38 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
....the fact is Obama is President


I'm glad you can finally come out and say that, it only took 3 months. It wasn't that hard was it?


RE: Reap what you sow
By AntiM on 3/6/2013 1:50:43 PM , Rating: 2
If you think our elected officials are the ones actually running this country, you're sadly mistaken. The posturing and debating between different parties and the different branches is all a show. Professional wrestling is another example of how things seem on the surface aren't how they actually are in reality. Like Jason mentioned, it wouldn't make much difference as to who got elected. There's an agenda.


RE: Reap what you sow
By Yeah on 3/6/2013 2:48:12 PM , Rating: 2
Quote Old lady to Rowdy Roddi Piper:

"I have someone that can See!"

better watch your back !

looks behind me..


You reap what you, so...
By mike66 on 3/6/2013 4:00:51 PM , Rating: 2
from the comments i have read in the forum seems to me that everyone is panicked over drone strikes within your boarders. Lets see, warrant-less wire taps, scans and searches at airports,warrant-less searches, detention without trial, unlimited jail sentences, video surveillance, mysterious exec's that have power to kill it's citizens without trial. I'll stop there as the list I can think of is just to long. Sounds as if we need to invade to put a democratic government in place. You would have more rights and respect as a citizen of Iran.




RE: You reap what you, so...
By kerpwnt on 3/6/2013 4:32:53 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Sounds as if we need to invade to put a democratic government in place.

I think about that all the time. Then I take a look at polls and I'm not so sure anymore.

I think James Madison was right in thinking that a majority rule would end individual liberty. The whimsical desires of the many will always outvote the desperate needs of the few.


RE: You reap what you, so...
By mike66 on 3/6/2013 7:29:32 PM , Rating: 2
I take a look at polls and I'm not so sure anymore.

You may have the wrong idea on what I was getting at. I really am saying that you need some of us reasonable countries to invade and shoot all your politicians both republican and democrat as they are all ruled by rich minorities. I believe that the majority of the American public do not support the wars overseas, defence yes, offence No. If that's not the case I hope you all nuke yourselves as you started all this sh.t around the world and it's what you deserve. We could use the excuse for invasion that you have weapons of mass destruction which was the final excuse used to get rid of Saddam Hussein and this time it will not be a lie.


Kentucky, not Tennesee
By djcameron on 3/6/2013 3:33:54 PM , Rating: 2
I'm pretty sure that Senator Rand Paul is from Kentucky, not Tennesee.




RE: Kentucky, not Tennesee
By sorry dog on 3/6/2013 9:35:08 PM , Rating: 1
Sir, please refrain from injecting facts into this discussion. It will only confuse the issue. Thank you.


RE: Kentucky, not Tennesee
By Jeffk464 on 3/8/2013 1:00:58 AM , Rating: 2
Like there is a difference.


What is he smoking?
By DT_Reader on 3/6/2013 4:13:00 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
Holder goes on to point to Pearl Harbor and the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001 as examples of the kinds of threats that might require Americans to be ordered killed by the President.

I'd like to hear Holder name one American whose death would have prevented either 12/7/1941 or 9/11/2001. The Supreme Court ruled last week that the 4th Amendment doesn't apply anymore, DHS has ruled and the courts have agreed that the 5th Amendment doesn't apply in the case of an encrypted laptop, the NDAA says Obama can order the Army to "disappear" anyone he wishes, and now this.

Where's the NRA in all this? Oh, that's right - the 2nd Amendment only applies in the defense of the 2nd Amendment, the rest of the Constitution can rot for all they care.

I can't believe I'm on Rand Paul's side, but in this case I am.




Not the real issue
By nafhan on 3/6/2013 2:49:59 PM , Rating: 3
So, isn't the real issue here that the president could authorize strikes on American soil? Does it really matter if the missile is fired by an F-16 or a Predator?

Freaking out because of the word drone almost seems like a distraction from the real issue: the ability to arbitrarily use military hardware against Americans on American soil by Executive order.




This... bothers me.
By bill.rookard on 3/7/2013 10:03:21 AM , Rating: 3
And some may consider this a little too 'conspiracy theorist', but nonetheless, it is a possible scenario.

Right now, our country is in a position where the general population is rather unhappy with their leaders. Extremely unhappy with those in charge. Feeling a huge disconnect between what they need and want and what their leaders are giving them. Their lot in life is going somewhat down the toilet and while things are a stitch better than they were 5 years ago, they're still not in great shape.

Occupy movement. Home grown militias. Huge run-up in purchases of arms and ammunition. Assault weapons flying off the shelves.

I'm wondering if they (the government) are feeling like they might start having a big red 5-ring on their heads. Face it, this is (supposed to be) a government of the people, by the people, for the people, and if we as a people decided to rise up and tear this government down and replace it, it within our right and our power to do so. Somehow though, I don't think those in charge would be too amenable to that happening, and one thing that those in power like to do - is stay in power.

Add that to the memo about how they would now have the right to drone-strike and assassinate (that's what it is - plain and simple) US born citizens on US soil - who have been deemed a threat to the country - and it's not a big leap to replace 'country' with 'government'. With that they could indeed continue down the slippery slope leading to a mandate to assassinate those who pose a threat to the power structure of our government.

IMHO - this 'drone strike' on US soil is pure, unadulterated crap, and violates the US constitution in so many ways as to be laughable. On foreign soil, in a hostile country, surrounded by supporters, and unable to bring a person in without huge cost of life, I can certainly see usage of drones for assassination. Here on US soil though, with available police units for support, with National Guard units for support, with FBI for support, I cannot see any -legitimate- reason why someone could not be brought in with proper legal means far short of assassination via remote for adjudication under the law and with the rights our Constitution allows for.




Talk about job security....
By sorry dog on 3/6/2013 8:53:35 PM , Rating: 2
Can somebody tell me...after Fast and Furious, how does this Holder dude still have a job??

...maybe somebody in the White House is regretting that about now when Holder says stupid stuff like it's "legal" to do drone strike inside our borders...




I voted for that clown
By johnsmith9875 on 3/6/2013 11:33:52 PM , Rating: 2
based on the assumption he wouldn't be like George W. Bush, but its looking like he's just Dubya's 3rd term.




liberals should be afraid
By DockScience on 3/6/2013 7:58:31 PM , Rating: 1
Liberals should remember that America will not always have a superhuman, model-of-perfection ideal like President Obama or the future smartest and most experienced woman in the world Hillary Clinton as president.

Even now, the evil Koch brothers and their subhuman minions are working to put the trigger to kill any American citizen in their home without process or recourse into the hands of GASP, Jeb Bush.

Get it now?




Chill out people
By Beenthere on 3/6/13, Rating: -1
RE: Chill out people
By ppardee on 3/6/2013 1:56:49 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Use of drone strikes in the U.S. would only be used when other tactics aren't sufficient. It's not like they are going to use these in downtown Los Angeles or NYC.


You are correct, if the government is trustworthy. Which it isn't.

quote:
All resources should be used on terrorists in all countries - period.


That's all fine and dandy as long as your definition of 'terrorist' matches the government's. When the government sees a group of protesters that will prevent their overthrow, they could say they were terrorists. When a journalist contradicts the official story about the hit, a hellfire missile gets sent up his tailpipe when he's driving home. Anyone who challenges the government is easily and legally eliminated. Since it is an unilateral strike without judicial review, who is to say they weren't doing it as a power grab?

All is well if you trust your government. But when your government is sending guns to drug lords and dictators, turning a blind eye to voter fraud and intimidation, bypassing Congress and using executive orders to do what couldn't be accomplished legally, and saying that it is perfectly legal to murder a person who is not an immediate threat regardless of where they are and without oversight just because they have labeled them a terrorist, they do not deserve your trust.


"Death Is Very Likely The Single Best Invention Of Life" -- Steve Jobs














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