Drones, Due Process, and Standing with Rand

Helen Shibut

I don’t always support Rand Paul. Like many other libertarians, I was extremely disappointed by his endorsement of Mitt Romney’s presidential bid in 2012. I also think he should take the focus off his pro-life position, for the good of the larger liberty movement. But when it comes to his nearly thirteen hour filibuster of John Brennan’s nomination for director of the CIA, I stand with Rand.

Leading up to his filibuster and throughout the long hours in which he talked, Paul repeatedly demanded that the Obama administration affirm that it does not have the constitutional authority to order drone strikes on American citizens on American soil. As Paul said, this should have been an easy concession. Of course the president cannot have Americans killed without due process—stating a charge against the accused, and granting him legal representation and a trial by jury.

Speaking on the behalf of the administration, Attorney General Eric Holder blustered about the unlikelihood of drone strikes within the United States and promised that such strikes haven’t occurred yet. Oh, good. Why couldn’t Holder just say, “No, the government cannot shoot down Americans with drones inside the country”? Probably because he and many other government officials believe they can do just that.

This isn’t a partisan issue. Large majorities of both Republican and Democratic elected officials resent any attempt by their constituents and their Constitution to restrain their powers. But public pressure and the fear of not getting reelected can motivate these politicians to protect the rights of all Americans guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. On the issue of drones and due process, I encourage everyone to stand with Rand. Remind your representatives that they work for you, and that you don’t want to hear drones buzzing around your town. 

1 comment:

  1. Paul asked whether "the President has the power to use lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, and without trial."

    Holder responded first that the U.S. has not conducted drone strikes in the U.S. and has no intention of doing so and, further, the President rejects the use of military force where law enforcement authorities in the country provide the best means of incapacitating a terrorist threat. He next noted that Paul's question thus is "entirely hypothetical [and] unlikely to occur" and responded: "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 [U.S] for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the [U.S.]"

    Duh! The Civil War is a case in point.

    Yet Paul grandstands, during which he concedes Holder's point and suggests that is not the question he had in mind: "Nobody questions if planes are flying towards the Twin Towers whether they can be repulsed by the military. Nobody questions whether a terrorist with a rocket launcher or a grenade launcher is attacking us, whether they can be repelled."

    Holder then responded: "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."

    Again, duh! And, so it seems, Paul and Holder agree--on both his general and specific questions.

    Yet Paul grandstands--to what end, other than grandstanding for his own political sake, is not clear. In that, given the tenor of some comments, he appears to have been quite successful. Bully show!