Following Senator Rand Paul’s nearly 13-hour filibuster that blocked CIA nominee John Brennan’s confirmation, John McCain and Lyndsey Graham had some choice words for the junior Senator. Rand Paul had vowed to speak until he no longer could or until the White House responded to his concerns about the President authorizing drone strikes on Americans on American soil without due process of the law. Here was McCain’s response to Senator Paul:
"Calm down, Senator. The U.S. government cannot randomly target U.S. citizens. If Mr. Paul wants to be taken seriously, he needs to do more than pull political stunts that fire up impressionable libertarian kids. I don't think what happened yesterday is helpful to the American people."
Graham echoed McCain’s comments and further displayed a poster to “prove” to Paul and his “libertarian kids” that Obama’s drone policy is purely benign and only meant to target imminent threats. His poster was headlined, “Number of Americans Killed in the U.S.” Underneath the headline, it listed the number of Americans killed by Al-Qaeda, 2,958, and the number of Americans killed by drones, 0. Therefore, Obama and all other presidents succeeding him will never use an armed drone to kill an American on U.S. soil.
McCain had remarked that Paul’s “political stunt” (which took place while both McCain and Graham and 10 other Republicans were fine-dining with Obama) entered the “realm of the ridiculous.” It’s ridiculous to suggest that our President would ever stoop to such a level as ordering the assassination of Americans in our own country. I would argue it’s about as ridiculous as thinking the government would ever come after our guns.
At first, the question was whether we could Constitutionally occupy a foreign land without a declaration of war. Then, Congress responded with the Authorization to Use Military Force, giving the President dictatorial powers to invade at will. That constituted their “declaration of war.”
Then, the question was whether or not we could Constitutionally detain foreigners without any charges brought against them, without evidence against them and without due process. Their response was that these foreigners are not protected by the U.S. Constitution, because they’re not Americans. And, besides, we’re at “war,” so detaining for questioning is permitted so that we can find out where other terrorists are.
Then, the question was whether or not it was OK to torture foreign detainees. Their response was that it yielded valuable information on the whereabouts of other terrorists, so it saved lives. Never mind the fact that all that torture did for sure was get a forced confession out of them. I’m sure if they tortured me, they would eventually get me to “confess” to the assassination of JFK, if that’s what they really wanted. Of course, in the middle of that question was the question of whether or not waterboarding was actually torture or just an “enhanced interrogation technique.” I don’t care what they call it, I would sign the confession if it meant they would stop waterboarding me.
Then, the question was whether or not we could target foreigners “suspected” of terrorism by drone strikes without charges, evidence, etc. at the expense of innocent men, women and children. Their response was that again, these foreigners are not protected by our Bill of Rights, and we’re at “war” with foreigners who pose an “imminent threat” to us here in the Homeland, and therefore any innocent lives lost are collateral damage.
Then, the question was whether or not we could target Americans in a foreign land for assassination without charges, evidence and due process (think Al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son, both American citizens). They responded that the dad had revoked his own citizenship (and his Constitutional rights), aligned himself with Al-Qaeda, and since his son was related, they were both imminent threats.
Americans have largely come to accept all these provisions thanks to the media and legal “experts,” and now, the question is whether or not the government can Constitutionally target Americans for assassination on American soil without charges, evidence and due process.
Eric Holder has responded. He stated in a letter to Senator Paul that the President does not have the authority to “use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil.” This, to me, doesn’t really tell us anything. It’s like when they say, “No one’s coming after your guns.” But they are coming for our guns. And they’re using “mental illness,” increasing gun restrictions and background checks to do it.
How do they define “engaged in combat?” Is a gun owner who is also pro-life, opposed to big government and critical of the current administration a domestic terrorist? And by virtue of the fact that he owns and carries a gun, is he also “engaged in combat?”
The media will use their legal “experts” to convince Americans that the drone policy is completely legit and benign, and that there’s nothing to worry about. They’ll repeat it over and over again until Americans accept it as self-evident.
They’ve used Al-Qaeda for the past decade to convince us that the President does have the authority to order the killing of anyone it deems to be imminent threats. And since Americans have largely accepted this principle, they’re now turning the war on us in our own country. So, the drone policy is not really so much over the use of drones as it is about the power of the President to order the killing or detainment of American “political dissidents,” which I think is where it’s headed. Drones will just make the killing part a whole lot easier.