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Rand Paul Starts New Drone War In Congress 272

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the rand-paul-plus-aclu-what dept.
SonicSpike (242293) writes with news that the ACLU and Rand Paul both think every Senator should read David Barron's legal memos justifying the use of drones against an American citizen before he is confirmed to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals. From the article: "Paul, the junior Republican senator from Kentucky, has informed Reid he will object to David Barron's nomination to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals unless the Justice Department makes public the memos he authored justifying the killing of an American citizen in Yemen. The American Civil Liberties Union supports Paul's objection, giving some Democratic lawmakers extra incentive to support a delay to Barron's nomination, which could come to the floor in the next two weeks. Barron, formerly a lawyer in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, penned at least one secret legal memo approving the Sept. 2011 drone strike that killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Muslim cleric whom intelligence officials accused of planning terrorist attacks against the United States."
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Rand Paul Starts New Drone War In Congress

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  • by erikkemperman (252014) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @05:59AM (#46926743)

    The way drones are currently employed in extrajudicial killing (a.k.a. murder), typically inside sovereign nations not at war with the US, is just as illegal when it targets US citizen as it is when it targets anybody else.

    Not to mention the vast majority of drone victims who are not even suspected of anything but being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    This is a pretty reliable method of creating new terrorists.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @06:10AM (#46926785)

      Hard to keep the war going without terrorists. Sounds like the plan is working well.

    • by aralin (107264)

      You must not be american or you could not even utter such an obvious non-sense. Citizenship is the only thing that matters. It is the only thing that could potentially sway the Congress, any other consideration is irrelevant.

      Is this state of affairs amoral? Yes. Should it be as you say? Yes. But it isn't and wishing so won't make it so.

      • You must not be american or you could not even utter such an obvious non-sense.

        Because not only are Americans the only ones capable of making sense, they are also unable to utter non-sense?

        Is this state of affairs amoral? Yes. Should it be as you say? Yes. But it isn't and wishing so won't make it so.

        So.. You basically agree but believe it should not be pointed out? I am honestly not sure what your point is.

        • by aralin (107264)

          Oh, it absolutely should be pointed out. Everything possible should be done about bringing light to drone strikes and every attempt made at ending it.

          You should not be naive though, about what and how can end it. US government is the only one who can end the program. Saying it is amoral does not matter to US government. Saying it creates more terrorists does not matter to the US government. Collateral damage does not matter to the US government. The only thing that could potentially matter to them is the US

          • Oh, it absolutely should be pointed out. Everything possible should be done about bringing light to drone strikes and every attempt made at ending it.

            You should not be naive though, about what and how can end it. US government is the only one who can end the program. Saying it is amoral does not matter to US government. Saying it creates more terrorists does not matter to the US government. Collateral damage does not matter to the US government. The only thing that could potentially matter to them is the US citizenship. Everything else falls into the totally justifiable grey area.

            They understand blowback. See also: Snowden. It has become more costly to do business as an American company since the leaks. What the US government understands is US "interests", meaning mainly the interests of US corporations. In the near term, through the courts, citizenship and the circumvention of due process can make some difference, but long term what matters is the cost/benefit to the machine.

        • No, I think he's just referring to the 920,149,600 acres of farmland [farmlandinfo.org] actively being cultivated in the United States.

          For reference, that's a bit over 3 acres per person measured in the same year. This guy [farmlandlp.com] says that it only takes about 1 acre to feed a person per year, meaning that we'd still have 2 acres left per person for creation of diesel fuel (rape seed, canola oil, soybean oil, etc.) to power the farming implements.

          Does this capture the whole story? Absolutely not. However, without having a 1930s st

      • by flyneye (84093)

        Being one of the People of the United States is important, being a Citizen of the United States has fewer perks. Need to read the fine print.

        • by PopeRatzo (965947)

          Thanks to our Supreme Court, the meaning of the word "People" has become, shall we say, somewhat fungible.

    • by wiredog (43288)

      typically inside sovereign nations not at war with the US
      In the case of Yemen, it's with the permission, and sometimes the assistance, of the host government, which doesn't control that area where the drones are used. In Pakistan there appears to be at least tacit permission. In Afghanistan, well, there's a war on.

      In all cases, the law in the US (AUMF and others) allows it.

      • by NettiWelho (1147351) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @07:27AM (#46927047)

        typically inside sovereign nations not at war with the US In the case of Yemen, it's with the permission, and sometimes the assistance, of the host government, which doesn't control that area where the drones are used. In Pakistan there appears to be at least tacit permission. In Afghanistan, well, there's a war on.

        In all cases, the law in the US (AUMF and others) allows it.

        Claiming lawful action under German or puppet regime law didn't help the nazis, they got hung anyway. The US set the precedent on this one pretty solid.

        • by wiredog (43288)

          Just ou of curiosity, how is using a drone to attack an individual target somehow illegal, where carpet-bombing with a B-52 is not illegal? Or is your contention that any use of force against al-Qaeda illegal?

          • Just ou of curiosity, how is using a drone to attack an individual target somehow illegal, where carpet-bombing with a B-52 is not illegal? Or is your contention that any use of force against al-Qaeda illegal?

            Whats it again with the legality? What the Nazis did was perfectly legal under German law at the time - They were killed for what they did anyway.

            If the target is actually an hostile combatant, then sure whatever, drop an anvil on the guy. But if you double tap a completely unrelated wedding party and then the rescuers, how is what US doing any different from what the Nazis and the Soviets were doing? If you willingly murder defenseless civilians and claim legal right to kill enemies of the state per law

    • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @08:08AM (#46927247)

      The way drones are currently employed in extrajudicial killing (a.k.a. murder), typically inside sovereign nations not at war with the US, is just as illegal when it targets US citizen as it is when it targets anybody else.

      Not to mention the vast majority of drone victims who are not even suspected of anything but being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

      This is a pretty reliable method of creating new terrorists.

      Well, I don't want to defend the drone war. I don't think we should be involved in this at all. But to call this anything but war is a disservice to everyone involved. This is what war looks like. It IS murder. You can't be on an offensive military footing and not commit murder. Remember the children killed by hellfire missiles while attending a funeral the next time your congressman starts talking about defending this country. We voted to allow this. We've voted for Republicans and Democrats time and time again. They will keep doing this until we either throw them out of office or we make it clear they can't win elections anymore if they keep using war as a pretext to scare us into voting for them.

      This is our fault. We need to take responsibility and stop blaming our inability to vote outside party lines on some mythical 1% or military industrial complex. If you don't like war, stop voting for the party of war. It's the one with D or R after the names on the ballot.

      • We did not vote for this. Not one of the executive branch lawyers who write legal justifications for this is elected. If it has congressional oversight in any capacity, only a handful of congress ate on the super secret committees that are marginally briefed. The judicial branch is not elected.

        This is how a representative domocracy works, voting for someone who sounds the most like you and trusting they will do what they say. Especially since they campaign on things they can't change, like the president on

      • by BoberFett (127537) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @11:55AM (#46929505)

        Eh, I've been voting for non-interventionist Libertarians since I could vote. And every time I get mocked every time because "a third party candidate can't win". Well no shit.

        I'd love to see the Libertarians, the Greens, hell even the Socialist Party start to see more representation in government. At least we'd loosen the stranglehold those scumbag Ds and Rs have.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      This is a pretty reliable method of creating new terrorists.

      Don't know if you're an ignorant American or an EU pacifist, but we tried doing nothing before (see Jimmy Carter presidency). Didn't work so well. In fact it made the terrorists even more emboldened because they knew that nobody would ever come to get them. At least this way people know that they may have to pay for fighting America.

      • This is a pretty reliable method of creating new terrorists.

        Don't know if you're an ignorant American or an EU pacifist, but we tried doing nothing before (see Jimmy Carter presidency).

        Oh, well, gee Wally, I didn't realize that we only had 2 options here - killing large numbers of innocents in order to "get" one guy, or doing nothing. How silly of me to think there might be something else that can be done that doesn't involve murdering children and turning them against us.

      • Jimmy Carter was amazing. The problem wasn't Carfter. It's You. We will always be at war as long as people like you are around. Look at us. Osama Bin Laden WON. He didn't pay for shit. He got exactly what he wanted. We went crazy, invaded two countries, clamped down on our own citizens, and spent a small mountain of money for nothing. To boot, we're LOSING in Afghanistan. We've accomplished NOTHING over there.

        Oh yeah, we showed them.... Meanwhile, you pooh pooh one of the most honest presidents we've ever

    • This has bothered me for a long time. What is "Radical Muslim Cleric"? They haven't given me anything to kill this man for; my parents are Radical Catholics and complain a lot about people saying "Happy Holidays" around Christmas time. I complain a lot about the egg lobby creating Easter.
    • Wars cannot be declared (in the congressional, send in the Marines way) against an entity which is not a sovereign nation. Congress can authorize "use of force" but can't declare "war". We didn't declare war on Afghanistan, we authorized the military to "use all "necessary and appropriate force" against those whom he determined "planned, authorized, committed or aided" the September 11th attacks, or who harbored said persons or groups."

      The vast majority of casualties in most wars are "not even suspected o

    • These are missiles fired from aircraft.

      Whether the pilot is in a cubicle in Arizona or in the cockpit of the aircraft is absolutely immaterial.

      We kill terrorists. We cant (rationally ahem: 'war on drugs') declare war against something unless it is a civil body politic with a government.

      No one, except true pacifists, is always against the US killing terrorists...so that means it's a question of *when* to use lethal force
      In all military action there is a threat of collateral killing.

      Nothing new to see here...

    • by geekoid (135745)

      The AUMF makes it legal.

  • It's not the "war on terrorism" anymore.
    Instead, it is the "race against terrorism"
    (to be the first to use drones against an American citizen.)

  • Wait.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @07:58AM (#46927191)

    Wait a minute... did a senator just object to a judicial nomination for an actually valid reason?

    • Well, I think it might be more accurate to say that he *gave* a valid reason, but I hardly expect that was his primary motivation.

      Still, the enemy of my enemy and all that..

  • I'm sorry but the Supreme Court should rule there is no such thing as a secret law or secret interpretation of a law.

    While details of any particular case could be secret, of course, the law itself cannot be. To suggest otherwise should be considered treason against freedom itself.

    • Irrelevant. The congress writes the laws, the executive enforces laws. Exec does not publish a written interpretation for every law, they just arrest or kill, and show up in court with the written law.

      If there is a technical appeal, the courts decide interpretation. Until that point, no ones interpretation means anything.

      The only point where it matters is when scotus allows a secret decision based on secret evidence. Because that establishes case law, which lasts until congress changes the law.

      So what you d

  • Now, I will be the last person who believes that Rand Paul is doing something for any reason other than his own advancement and publicity, but... I've gotta say... This is actually a legitimate and valid reason for holding up a confirmation hearing. The guy being confirmed has some controversial viewpoints about American law? That's directly relevant to whether or not he should be on the bench. I assumed this was more stupid Republican hostage-taking, but it's actually relevant. Go stopped clocks!

    • by tverbeek (457094)

      The stopped-clock metaphor is rather apt in this case. Rand Paul's hands are stuck in one position ("the federal government is wrong"), and from time to time that position is correct.

    • No, it's not. It's a perfect reason to block the funding bill for the department which operates and controls the drones. It's not a legitimate reason for stopping anything else, whether it be a judicial appointment, money for school lunches, or regulations regarding the Keystone XL pipeline.

  • but not good in deterring Putin from taking Ukraine. Reading stuff at http://globalsecurity.org/ [globalsecurity.org] it suggests Estonia is vulnerable as well. Geez, this country's security strategy has got to be the worst of all times.
  • I've often thought that a lot of the problem with "the government is killing American citizens" is actually a problem with citizenship, not with killing Americans. Generally these American citizens are the children of non-citizens who only spent a limited amount of time in the USA and much of their time they spent growing up was in a society radically different from the US.

    Maybe the solution to "killing American citizens" is to not let these people become citizens in the first place? (The first thing that

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.

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