This is, as the English folk song says, the world turned upside down. Attorney General Eric Holder responds to a question from Senator Rand Paul saying he could conceive of a situation in which the U.S. government might kill a citizen on U.S. soil:
“It is possible…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. “
In response, Paul dispenses with the new-fangled fake filibuster and goes back to tradition and revives the “Mr. Smith”- version and talks 13 hours non-stop to dramatize his opposition to John Brennan’s CIA nomination and Obama counter-terror policy. To lock it all up, John McCain says that Paul’s contention that the U.S. might have killed Jane Fonda during the days she protested the Vietnam War “ridiculous.”
Actually, McCain has deliberately misunderstood the claim Paul made. He wasn’t saying Lyndon Johnson would’ve killed Fonda or even that a Pres. Obama serving in 1967 would’ve done so. But he IS saying that Obama in this era of kill lists and drone-fire certainly might target say, Julian Assange or Bradley Manning if they were free and doing damage to national security (as Obama and Brennan define it).
So no, this isn’t ridiculous by any stretch of the imagination. This is dead-serious business. And much as I feel great chagrin at agreeing with Rand Paul, whose other ideas I find generally objectionable, he’s dead-right on this issue. No attorney general has any business saying he would approve the murder of a U.S. citizen on native soil. It’s odious. It’s unconstitutional. And it’s “legal” thanks to Holder’s disgusting interpretation of law.
Well, not exactly. Because Paul agreed to end his filibuster when he received a two line message from Holder saying the President doesn’t maintain that it’s legal to kill a U.S. citizen on U.S. who isn’t engaged in armed conflict with the U.S. So Holder affirmed murder of U.S. citizens and then demurred. Shall we say the adminstration’s approach is quite malleable?
So we have a libertarian GOP senator endorsing views that used to be championed by liberal Democrats and we have “moderate” GOP senators shilling for the pro-torture policies of Dick Cheney. What’s this world coming to?
During the Congressional hearing on Brennan’s nomination, Holder was asked if he would approve the murder of a U.S. citizen who was planning a terror attack, but who was sitting at a café enjoying a cappuccino. He had a hard time with that one. I think the idea of firing a drone missile at someone doing something Holder does every day surprised him. Though he ended up saying “no,” I wasn’t convinced. If a Navy SEAL can put a bullet into an unarmed Osama bin Laden while he’s shielded by his wife, they would certainly kill Assange or Manning if they could.
This isn’t your grandfather’s Republic anymore people. This is a brave new world of counter-terror run amok. A world in which a supposedly liberal Democratic president obsessed with blunting a traditional GOP national security advantage, has out Cheney’ed the Cheneys.
Before anyone starts bellyaching about my endorsing anti-Semites, let me cut you off right there. I don’t endorse any other views of Rand Paul than the specific ones he espoused regarding John Brennan’s nomination. Further, I wish I didn’t have to endorse Rand Paul on this or any other issue. But because Obama has abandoned traditional Democratic views on civil liberties, it forces those who’ve stayed true to these values to look elsewhere for support.