A Non-Combatant Terrorist? Holder Issues New Statement On Obama’s Right To Kill Citizens Without Charge or Conviction

dronetoy2PresObamaWe previously discussed how Attorney General Eric Holder wrote a letter confirming that the President would have authority to kill citizens on U.S. soil without a charge or conviction. His answer triggered a principled filibuster by Sen. Rand Paul and another embarrassment to Democratic Senators who, again, chose personality over principle in staying silent. Now, Holder has issued a new statement. No, President Obama still claims the right to kill U.S. citizens on his sole authority. However, Holder now says that, if the citizen is “not engaged in combat on American soil,” the President cannot vaporize him. The answer leaves the constitutional claim of Obama even more confused and conflicted. Does this mean we have a third category now under the policy: citizen, citizen terrorist, and citizen non-combatant terrorist? The difference appears to determine whether you can be vaporized or speak to counsel but Holder is not explaining to the citizenry.

In his prior letter, Holder answered a question about whether the President was claiming the right to kill citizens on U.S. soil. This follows the release of a memo showing that Holder’s description of the policy at Northwestern University Law School was narrower than the actual policy described within the Administration. A memo leaked to the press shows that the Administration has adopted a virtual limitless definition of imminence: “The condition that an operational leader present an ‘imminent’ threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.”

Last week, Holder said “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.”

After the filibuster, Holder wrote a short terse response to Paul: “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.”

It is not clear how this “additional questions” differed from the first or why Holder did not answer the question previously. The use of “it has come to my attention” adds a wonderfully dishonest element to an evasive answer. It is not clear what Holder means by “engaged in combat” since the Administration memo shows that the Administration is using an absurdly broad definition of “imminent” threat under the kill list policy. Since the Administration has continued to assert that terrorists are engaged in a war against the U.S., the terse reply of Holder seems designed to preserve later flexibility.

Moreover, there is nothing in the constitutional claim of the Administration that reflects such a limitation. Deciding on where to kill a citizen would be an discretionary policy under the sweeping presidential authority described by the Administration. As noted in earlier columns (here and here and here), it is astonishing how citizens, including so many liberals and civil libertarians, Obama is saying that his appointment of a non-binding committee satisfied due process and relieves any need for judicial review. Moreover, if the President has the inherent authority to kill a citizen in Canada, it is not clear why such inherent authority would not exist a few hundred yards away in Detroit. The Administration has said that it can use the unilateral power when it considers a capture to pose undue risk to its personnel.

What is particularly striking is that we have a president who is asserting the right to kill any citizen but the Administration has classified memos on that authority and the Attorney General will only give a Senator a terse two line conclusory statement on scope. The Administration appears to believe that there is little need to explain the details on killing citizens, such as how it defines “combat.” Obviously, if there is a war occurring in the United States, a president has the right to put down insurrection or attacks on the federal government. These strikes concern targeting terrorists. One can easily foresee this or a future president insisting that an alleged terrorism conspiracy is a form of combat.

It would seem an obvious thing to explain how they define combat and whether an alleged terrorist would fall into it. Does this mean that there will be a category of non-combatant terrorists for domestic strikes? How is that defined? It seems like a hole big enough to fly a drone through.

Since police can already use lethal force to stop an attack in progress, the answer leaves more questions than it answers in my view. For a citizen it would mean that he or she can be killed abroad on the basis of the Administration’s wildly broad definition of “imminent” but domestically would fall under a different “combat” definition. Where is the line between an “imminent” threat and “combat” drawn? Does Holder mean there is a different meaning to imminence when someone steps over the border? We already have the definition of “imminent” and the Administration’s new definition of “imminent.” Is this yet a third option?

129 thoughts on “A Non-Combatant Terrorist? Holder Issues New Statement On Obama’s Right To Kill Citizens Without Charge or Conviction

  1. This is a true Constitutional quandary…but I think we’ll survive it…

    We are fighting such an unconventional enemy, there is an argument for expanding the parameters…

    I think we must look at the Social Contract and realize it is a “Contract”, it’s a two way street…there must be two parties to be a contract right..?

    Is there any greater breach of the Social Contract then enlisting in the enemy army with which we are at war..?

    Doesn’t that nullify the protections of American Citizenship..haven’t you abdicated your Citizenship by joining al-Qaeda or it’s affiliates..?

    Almost any of our Founding Fathers would have ordered or allowed the death of any Citizen who joined an opposing force in war time..

    Does it really make any difference if they kill you with a Drone attack or Bayonet..?

  2. Maybe I am too cynical or maybe I have just learned to parse language very closely, but when Holder says ” an American not engaged in combat on American soil”. I am right there with you Professor Turley that it is “not clear what Holder means.”

    Seems to me that this is language with a hole big enough to…fly a drone and a Hellfire missile through. All this (or any subsequent) administration need do is assert that the person they kill was “engaged in combat” somehow. And as you said. with the Orwellian flexibility in language redefining words to mean something other than their long established and understood meaning, Holder’s “engaged in combat” conditional is…meaningless.

  3. Really America? are you actually going to accept this type of lying from your President? Impeach the lying hypocrite.We should have impeached Bush, we can still correct that mistake.

  4. Three differing opinions in about as many days. “Teflon-AG” or MPD?

    Frances is right, we elect presidents, not kings.

  5. @TJ Colatrella, your comment gives me a headache.

    You write “We are fighting such an unconventional enemy, there is an argument for expanding the parameters.” My response is that there is nothing at all unconventional about a ragtag band of criminals engaged in criminal acts, and there is no cogent “argument for expanding the parameters.” What there is here is nothing more than a convenient excuse for authoritarians to glom onto.

    You go on to write “Almost any of our Founding Fathers would have ordered or allowed the death of any Citizen who joined an opposing force in war time”, conveniently asserting without any basis that the founders would have essentially ordered summary execution of anyone they thought guilty of treason. In doing so, you somehow seem to have missed or otherwise be wholly ignorant of the fact that the founders (and framers of the Constitution) explicitly provided for dealing with treason in the Constitution of the United States in Article 3, Section 3:

    Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court. The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

    I suggest we stick with the Constitution. You however seem to want to ignore it. No thanks.

  6. Considering that the definition of “combatant” for purposes of kills in Afghanistan includes all males over, what?, 14?, 15?, I see a huge opportunity for misuse. We also see Homeland security joining forces with local and state police forces to put down peaceful protests of government wrong doing. And whistleblowers being persecuted and prosecuted while the wrong doers get promoted. We’re in an Orwellian world and have been for some time.

  7. Holder is a poor excuse for an Attorney General.

    He can’t prosecute banks but he can advocate killing citizens without a trial.

    He ain’t got game.

  8. I was excited when Obama was first elected because he was a constitutional lawyer but I agree that his administration has been a disaster for rights. I sued DOJ for imprisonment without a criminal charge using the Prisoner Tracking System. DOJ publishes a Privacy Act Notice in the Federal Register vol 69 p. 23213 saying that the purpose of the PTS is to manage the imprisonment of Federal Prisoners held pursuant to a criminal proceeding. DOJ misquoted that in litigation and changed the word “criminal” to “judicial”. Then DOJ also misrepresented in Federal Court that it can use the Joint Automated Booking System without a criminal charge even though it published in the FR vol 71 p 52821 that the categories of individuals in the system are “alleged criminal offenders” only.

    I complained about this criminal misrepresentation of the Federal Register to the Office of Professional Responsibility. They emailed back that “it is the longstanding policy of the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) to decline to investigate litigation claims that have been raised, could have been raised, or still may be raised in litigation.” I sent in a FOI inquiry for a record of this policy and also for minutes of all meetings they had in 2012. They are supposed to respond within 20 days. It has already been 3 months with no records provided. I’m sure they hope I just forgot. They emailed to me that it was late because of Christmas!

  9. Let them eat cereal, with lots of sugar, and add snap crackle pop. Then pour milk on top, Oh Yes eat our confections citizen, be amazed,..and content. We’ll even supply new reading material on the back of the constit —— err, uh,—- back of the box.

  10. President Obama does not have the right to order the murder of an American citizen on American soil by any means. The use of drones does not change the analysis or the fact that the Constituion forbids such an action.

    This country is not governed by a social contract. It is governed by the Constituion The founding fathers were trying to provide a structure that would protect citizens from unilateral decisions by the executive or for that matter the legislature that would result in punishment of a citizen without public trial. Death of course is the ultimate punishment; thus, that concern is clearly of the heightened variety.

    Holder and Obama know better which makes these claims much more offensive. Democrats have a responsibility to take their president to task and to make sure that he understands the limitations the Constituion puts on his powers. They took an oath and it is now time to fulfill it.

  11. The problem with undefined discretionary powers is that no one can explain them because they are undefined and discretionary.

  12. They’re going to do what they want, because nobody is going to put up enough of an effort to impeach.

    Sie sind immun vor Strafverfolgung. Sie sind Götter.

  13. I’m no fan of Holder as I ‘ve written. However it is curious that Rand Paul was so easily silenced. Why was Rand Paul was “satisfied” with the response is the question?

  14. mespo,

    “Why was Rand Paul was “satisfied” with the response is the question?”

    Because he got his spin time as someone who “stands for the people and the Constitution” complete with soundbites for his pending failed campaign for the Office of the President?

    Just a guess.

  15. Screw that “Hopey-Changey” business (at least for the time being). Holder and Obama are like to delinquents that can’t help but telegraph their plans, then deny having any plans at all.

  16. See Stephen I. Vladeck, “Emergency Power and the Militia Acts,” 114 Yale L.J. 149 (2004) @ http://yalelawjournal.org/images/pdfs/427.pdf, which argues that presidential emergency power to use lethal military force to respond to certain domestic crises is traceable not merely presidential authority under the Commander-in-Chief Clause, but rather to a series of statutes passed by Congress in 1792, 1795, 1807, 1861, and 1871. These five “Militia Acts” (as the author collectively refers to them) were enacted largely pursuant to Congress’s authority under the First Militia Clause “[t]o provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions.”

    As such, many of the emergency powers of the Executive are based on broad delegations of authority by Congress to the President. In recounting the history of and interplay between these five statutes, the author shows that the Founders and early Congresses agreed that the Constitution gives most authority over military emergencies to the legislature, to delegate at its discretion. Since Congress can take back what it has once given up by way of delegations of authority, adjustments to the President’s emergency powers, including the power to order the killing of American citizens on U.S. soil under certain exigent circumstances, can be adjusted legislatively. In other words, Congress already has authority under the Constitution to enact or amend statutes concerning presidential emergency powers. Whether it will stand up to the President and do so, however, remains to be seen.

  17. Where does this “War on terror” end? Just like our “war on drugs” there is quite possibly no end in sight. Is this a good way to run a country?

  18. And why do so many people keep referring to our being at war? We haven’t been at war since 1941. If you think this terrorism thing needs a war (like the drug war) Congress should declare such. I’m pretty sure I read this in the Constitution someplace.

  19. What exactly does the Constitution and Bill of Rights or the related amendments have to do with America….. Depends on who you ask…. I like whiskey straight….

  20. Why was Rand Paul so easily silenced? Maybe he is afraid he will be the first victim of a domestic drone attack? I have no idea. The letter was curt and ambiguous. Democrats have an obligation to stand up.

  21. “The accretion of dangerous power does not come in a day. It does come, however slowly, from the generative force of unchecked disregard of the restrictions that fence in even the most disinterested assertion of authority.” Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer (Steel Seizure), 343 U.S. 579, 594 (1952) (Frankfurter, J., concurring).

    That Justice Frankfurter was quite the jurist and an astute observer of people and society. That cite starts the Yale Law Journal article Paul O’Reilly referenced. Interesting read. “Congress can by statute regulate and circumscribe its limits—what Congress giveth, Congress can surely taketh away.” Without a doubt, but “can” and “will” are different verbs.

  22. Anonymously Yours 1, March 8, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    What exactly does the Constitution and Bill of Rights or the related amendments have to do with America….. Depends on who you ask…. I like whiskey straight….
    That is the way I like my beer too.

    The crooked is just so in-crowd.

  23. Ordering the killing of any American, even if they are “evil bankers,” is not a joking matter. I would expect more from a teacher. Well..never mind.

  24. Even Petraeus and Steele who tortured Iraqis as a matter of course, and their bankers, should be afforded a trial before execution.

    Before trial, a grand jury must issue an indictment before they are arrested.

    And they should have the right to remain silent, have lawyers, and confront witnesses against them at trial.

  25. As I mentioned in an earlier thread, they still haven’t reduced or limited the Presidents sole authority to decide who is and who isn’t an enemy combatant. The AUMF has to be rescinded and the Patriot Act would have to be rescinded or watered down if we have hope of curtailing the expansion of executive authority.

  26. Drone Poll Finds Opposition To Use Against American Citizens In U.S., Even To Stop A Terrorist Attack
    By Emily Swanson
    Posted: 03/08/2013

    After an uproar this week when Attorney General Eric Holder wrote that technically speaking, the president might have the authority to kill an American citizen on U.S. soil using a drone in an “extraordinary circumstance,” a new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds that Americans are deeply uncomfortable with the idea of drone strikes in the U.S., with half saying that ordering one would be unjustified even if it would prevent a terrorist attack.

    Only 33 percent of respondents to the new survey believe there should be circumstances in which it is legal for the president to order a drone strike against an American citizen within the U.S., while 47 percent said it should be legal under no circumstances. Majorities of both Republicans and independents said that there were no circumstances under which ordering a drone strike against an American citizen on American soil should be legal, but Democrats were more likely to say that it should be legal under extraordinary circumstances, 43 percent to 32 percent.

  27. Ayn Rand’s son stood up in the Senate and was a fountainhead of information for many hours. We are beholden to him and not beholden to Holder. If we knew when and where the government would kill a citizen and why or for what, then we could have something more definite to debate. But since we do not have a precise definition of who gets killed when and for why then we just have an opportunity to phillabuster. It is not a brave new world. It is a lame old world. Rights are not passe they are still alive and well in America. The right to free speech on the floor of the Senate is guaranteed to all Senators irregardless of race, creed, or deed. National origin is a given. Unless your are Rubio. And, that depends on why his family fled CAstro as far back as 1956 when Castro did not arrive on the scene until 1959. So, in sum, I stand with Rand and that is Ayn Rand as well as Rand Paul. And when you have a first name for a last name you need a last name for a first name. Nuff said.

  28. I sit here amazed in a way …

    We have a Commander-in -Chief for a reason –one focal point –a civilian BTW–who weighs the facts (as he did in the OBL attack) and makes a decision based on the input of senior civilian staff as well as our military to take action with regards to whatever threat(s) rears its ugly head against our great nation ….

    OB has acted extremely well as CinC since taking office, IMHO and I have 24 yrs. in the Army to base my judgment on.

    OB is not going to willy-nilly start “poppin’ ” Americans with drones … Please

    If that were the case, it would have already started and it has not started.

    Drones over America– keep an eye on potential crime / drug deals etc. / traffic jams / — how about border security both North and South — why we would we not want that type of surveillance when a drone can stay aloft 24-48 hours vs. an hour or two for a normal police helo…??

    As far as armed drones — maybe on-call at a local USAF base, okay but to
    completely negate their use is to tie the hands of the CinC behind his back. A. The Constitution orders him to protect our country and B. that means we do not hamstring his capability to do so.

    When he irrationally starts poppin Americans for no reason then we can have the debate, until then don’t start losing sleep over a non-problem.

    I would rather have the armed drone capability –yes,held in reserve — than not have it at all.

    We live in a dangerous world and Al Qaeda, if it had its way, would bring that war to our shores –AGAIN– therefore, we must be prepared and vigilant. Armed and unarmed surveillance drones are all part of that vigilance and preparation. OB is not going to go off half-cocked, believe me.

  29. “You don’t grasp the beauty of the destruction of words. …
    Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.” — George Orwell, 1984

    or, phrased somewhat differently in Terza Rima sonnets:

    A Disassembled Dialectic
    (From The Triumph of Strife: an homage to Dante Alighieri and Percy Shelley)

    The mawkish milquetoast mavens mildly moan
    And mumble mealy mouthfuls of their mush
    Mellifluously masking grammar’s groan

    As if our very words they wish to crush.
    Beneath a fog dispensed to hide the stink
    Of language that would make Rasputin blush,

    They make it near impossible to think,
    But praise with faint damnation published loud.
    In weakly written, waffling wretch-stained ink,

    They preach their penchant for pedantry proud.
    Their panchromatic paradigm of gray
    Describes in blended black and white the cloud.

    The metaphysics of the middle they
    Debate with dialectical dismay.

    They start assuming what they wish to know
    These salesmen of the syllogism flawed
    Then postulate the hope it may be so

    Whatever frozen fact they have unthawed
    They legislate a logic lunatic
    Inductive inference they have outlawed

    Whatever both implausible and thick
    They fantasize as fabric for their fraud
    And then segué to sell the simply sick:

    Suggestions subtle as a cattle prod
    Designed to stir stampede instead of thought
    They bask in their own bombast overawed

    With what their obloquy has sold and bought
    They premised nothing and concluded naught

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2006-2010

  30. If the Administration can justify killing an American minor sitting in a cafe over seas… NO DUE PROCESS.

  31. I have an interesting query or at least I think so….. Who is going to represent the gentleman….. And after representation will the attorney be then indicted, arrested and tried for giving aid, comfort and assistance to whom the US has labeled enemy commandants…. If you think this is silly… It’s an actual probability…. Just pondering… The after math….

  32. Gene H.
    1, March 8, 2013

    My guess was that without more Democrats backing him up he knew the president was gonna get his man…

  33. I would like Holder to answer a hypothetical:
    Would the president allow another country the ability to use militarized drones within US borders? i.e. A French terrorist here in America plotting an attack on France?

  34. sorry, more extensions to my “hypothetical” above:
    Would the president allow Americans to be killed as collateral damage?
    Would the president agree that any males between 18-35 killed as that collateral damage be automatically called an “enemy combatant”?

  35. lastly and sorry for the mess:
    it appears that if another country were to drone within the USA it’s an act of war…
    … when the USA drones over there, that’s an act of peace.

  36. JT,

    You need to get with the program. According to MSNBC, what Rand Paul was up to was “spewing infantile fantasies” and that “Rand Paul pretended that his performance art turn on the Senate floor yesterday was about forcing the Obama administration to answer a question. The problem was the Obama administration had already answered the question, very clearly. And today, to double-underline how empty-headed Rand Paul’s stunt was, the Obama administration chose to answer the question again.”


  37. @Anon851: Your post? It strikes me as utterly oblivious. This isn’t about Obama. This is about law and rights and precedent and limits of power. Just as Obama has claimed (and even expanded) on the unitary executive powers (abuses) claimed by Bush, the next president will claim (and likely seek to expand) on the unitary executive powers (abuses) of Obama.

    Wake up. Wake up. Wake up.

  38. Max-1,

    “My guess was that without more Democrats backing him up he knew the president was gonna get his man…”

    Sure, but just imagine the play he’s going to get from hours of soundbites to choose from in the upcoming campaign against either Biden or Clinton on this administrations dismal civil rights record. By then people will have forgotten much of the context and remember just the action of filibustering if that. Futile does not always mean useless and as both Sun Tzu and the prog rock band Yes might say, “Aim high, shoot low.” As propaganda and a PR play? I’m going to give credit where it is due and call it brilliant in advance. It’s probably doomed to failure if it’s the foundation for his strategy because of his other (insane) stances on other issues that will surely come into play should he run for President, but he’s crafted a wonderful “hold out weapon” from a PR/propaganda point of view. It’s not often we get a chance to watch this kind of machination being constructed in public.

  39. Paul Rand spent 13 hours filibustering in the Senate the other day …

    Basically all that rhetoric boiled down to his one question to the President.

    Would he order the killing of an American on American soil by a drone ??

    Obama replied, “Don’t push me ….. “

  40. Gene H.
    I have to agree. While on the surface the attempt appeared obviously futile, the myriad of seeds this planted for the GOP is interesting. I don’t play Party politics and don’t like the Duopoly America is saddled with, however being an observant independent I do see how it will play out for political cheep shots and sound bites, all right. While in reality, it only solidified to me at least, why both Parties really don’t take their roles seriously and instead rely on gamesmanship and propaganda to sell their wares to the gullible… er, general public. Yes, with “elections” to always “win”… I’m looking for Monsanto free popcorn as I type!

  41. In the Fifth, “a person” may not be deprived of life without “due process”.

    Which is why a declaration of war is essential.

    If our nation is attacked, then the evidence is supposed to be presented to the Congress who acts in the capacity of a court and hears the case.

    The guilty party is identified and charged with the attack. By weighing the evidence, the aggressor nation is given due process.

    If found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, then the citizens of that nation may be lawfully killed.

    Without a declaration of war, the killings are unlawful.

    An authorization of force based on secret evidence is not the same because the evidence must be publicly heard.

    You can say what you want about expediency and protection of sources but that kind of a system is not just and will inevitably lead to abuse.

  42. AF removes RPA airstrike number from summary

    By Brian Everstine and Aaron Mehta – Staff writers
    Posted : Friday Mar 8, 2013 12:34:50 EST


    As scrutiny and debate over the use of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) by the American military increased last month, the Air Force reversed a policy of sharing the number of airstrikes launched from RPAs in Afghanistan and quietly scrubbed those statistics from previous releases kept on their website.

    Last October, Air Force Central Command started tallying weapons releases from RPAs, broken down into monthly updates. At the time, AFCENT spokeswoman Capt. Kim Bender said the numbers would be put out every month as part of a service effort to “provide more detailed information on RPA ops in Afghanistan.”

    The Air Force maintained that policy for the statistics reports for November, December and January. But the February numbers, released March 7, contained empty space where the box of RPA statistics had previously been.


    Click here to see the original December 2012 and January 2013 statistics and the ones apparently loaded online Feb. 22.

    Additionally, monthly reports hosted on the Air Force website have had the RPA data removed — and recently.

    Those files still contained the RPA data as of Feb. 16, according to archived web pages accessed via Archive.org. Metadata included in the new, RPA-less versions of the reports show the files were all created Feb. 22.

    Defense Department spokesman Cmdr. Bill Speaks said the department was not involved in the decision to remove the statistics. AFCENT did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

    The data removal coincided with increased scrutiny on RPA policy caused by President Barack Obama’s nomination of John Brennan to head the CIA. Brennan faced opposition in the Senate over the use of RPAs and his defense of their legality in his role as Obama’s deputy national security adviser.

    On Feb. 20, two days before the metadata indicates the scrubbed files were created, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., sent a letter to Brennan saying that he would filibuster the nomination over concerns about using RPA strikes inside the U.S., a threat he carried out for over 12 hours on March 6 (Brennan was confirmed the next day).

    That same day, Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., told a crowd in South Carolina that strikes by American RPAs have killed 4,700 people.

    “Sometimes you hit innocent people, and I hate that, but we’re at war, and we’ve taken out some very senior members of al-Qaida,” Graham was quoted by the Patch website as saying.

  43. @ Michael Murry,

    “Whatever frozen fact they have unthawed
    They legislate a logic lunatic
    Inductive inference they have outlawed”

    Awesome AND Delightful. My brain had to step up to 3rd gear this early am. to grasp it. …. meanwhile the sheeples sagely nod approval. Oh Woe!!

  44. Anon851–“The Constitution orders him to protect our country”

    Exactly where does the Constitution order the president to do this?

  45. We previously discussed how Attorney General Eric Holder wrote a letter confirming that the President would have authority to kill citizens on U.S. soil without a charge or conviction. His answer triggered a principled filibuster by Sen. Rand Paul and another embarrassment to Democratic Senators who, again, chose personality over principle in staying silent.
    Ask Paul Ryan. U.S. House Of Representatives. It’s an ethical issue. He can’t get involved.

  46. What is the crime for failing to uphold an Oath of Office?
    Misdemeanor, Felony, or Treason?

    Who is supposed to hold Politicians accountable to their Oath?

  47. john Q
    1, March 9, 2013 at 10:30 am

    Who is supposed to hold Politicians accountable to their Oath?

  48. Dear Catullus,

    He’s not called the Commander-in-Chief for nothing…. If anything it’s his principal duty — are you looking for words that specifically say that — I would tell you it’s IMPLIED — or are you going to refute what 226 years of history …. !!??

  49. Who is supposed to hold Politicians accountable to their Oath?

    OK- I hereby charge Obama, Biden, and all 535 members of Congress with failing to uphold their Oath of Office. I hereby deputize all honest Americans and request they make a Citizens Arrest of any Congressperson available. The first to make an arrest wins, and will go down in history like Paul Revere.

  50. john Q
    1, March 9, 2013 at 11:10 am
    Who is supposed to hold Politicians accountable to their Oath?

    OK- I hereby charge Obama, Biden, and all 535 members of Congress with failing to uphold their Oath of Office. I hereby deputize all honest Americans and request they make a Citizens Arrest of any Congressperson available. The first to make an arrest wins, and will go down in history like Paul Revere.
    Agreed. Except not all the Congresspersons deserve to be arrested. You have to decide for yourself.

  51. @Anon851: You wrote “He’s not called the Commander-in-Chief for nothing…. If anything it’s his principal duty…”

    Ummm….where do start? The President is not “Commander-in-Chief” of the civilian populace. No one outside of the military should think of the President as their “Commander-in-Chief”,,,,because he isn’t. As for his principal duty, not even close.

    The principal duty of the President is to uphold the oath of office and that means to “faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

    You seem to have the United States confused with some sort of military state. I guess that’s understandable these days. But it’s not what the US is, and won’t be unless and until…people who think like you…take charge. (And God forbid that ever happen.)

  52. ap,

    It is interesting in the information age how revising history just isn’t as easy as it used to be. Another good, no – great, catch.

  53. Roman Berry
    1, March 9, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    You seem to have the United States confused with some sort of military state. I guess that’s understandable these days. But it’s not what the US is, and won’t be unless and until…people who think like you…take charge. (And God forbid that ever happen.)
    I was only in the Navy for four years, and that was a long time ago. The military is a society within a society. They literally refer to the civilian populace as the “outside.” If the military decides they’re in charge, you’re not.

  54. Dredd, there was a time when someone taking an oath on a copy of the Constitution without the bill of rights and even before the Bill of Rights was written wouldn’t phase me. Unfortunately, that was in a galaxy far away and a long long time ago when I believed that there was general agreement regarding what the Consitution and the Bill of Right provided for and prohibited. That is no longer the case. As a result, I now wonder whether it was an oversight or a subtle statement.

    As to the suggestion that we shouldn’t worry because the president is OBAMA and we should trust him not to kill anyone and because he hasnt done so, I am sorry to say trusting someone who claims this power is not an option. Even if I was inclined to trust OBAMA, unless I am badly mistake Obama won’t be the president forever. As a result, I have no idea if his successor will be “trustworthy”.

  55. I guess it takes a Constitutional schollar in the Chief Executive to most effectively dismantly the Constitution.

    I was a bit shocked when Vice President Cheney announced that we was not part of the executive branch. These Obama policies make me almost nostalgic for the good old days under Bush.

  56. In line with Martin Luther King Jr.’s warning NOT to believe that God chose America to be policeman of the world and that violence begets violence, President Obama should note that King simply pleaded for America to come home. That would have certainly included U.S. drones. -Coleen Rowley, Former FBI Special Agent,

    A bit dated, but interesting:

    Tell Obama What Dr. King Told LBJ: “God Didn’t Choose America”

    by Coleen Rowley

    Posted: 01/20/2013 9:47 pm



    Celebration of Obama’s second inauguration is already being dampened by news of his mulling the commencement of more drone bombing, of yet another African country, Mali, destabilized and engulfed in violence, in no small part due to spillover of the violence from U.S.-NATO bombing of Libya for regime change (see “America’s Shadow Wars in Africa”; “The war in Libya was seen as a success, now here we are engaging with the blowback in Mali”; and “Mali and the Lure of Intervention”). Whoever said “the neo-cons are like pyromaniacs who set a fire and then laugh when no one can put it out” was quite perceptive. France’s military entrance into Mali has already led to a hostage crisis and killing in Algeria. Would more drone bombing help put out the fire or only fuel it? Does anyone remember Dr. King’s sober advice about how “violence begets violence?”

    The coinciding of Inauguration Day with the Martin Luther King holiday must be more than serendipity. There is probably nothing more important right now to remind Obama about than what Dr. King thought about U.S. exceptionalist-based interventionism. Dr. King’s full quote was this: “Don’t let anybody make you think God chose America as his divine messianic force to be a sort of policeman of the whole world.”
    From the start, evident in his weird Orwellian acceptance of the Nobel “Peace” Prize, Obama instead embraced Bush’s “war presidency” and distanced himself from Dr. King’s beliefs. Consequently, U.S.-NATO continues to be caught up in the “smart power” dance that is anything but smart based on reckless “whack a mole” and “enemy of my enemy is my friend” strategies. Its attempt to cloak itself in “humanitarianism” and playing on American exceptionalism to project altruistic, paternalistic good intentions does seem to fool liberals and conservatives alike, but even worse, it fools many of its own participants, the Empire builders themselves. (Peter Van Buren’s insider book about the Iraq fiasco is aptly titled We Meant Well.) The American public is thus propagandized to believe that the ends always justify the means, that torture saves lives, that war is the answer, that it’s possible to “bomb the village to save it.” The Military Industrial Complex-controlled Empire is, of course, never truly well-intentioned. But the fighting for power in Mali seems even more complicated and convoluted than what’s happening in Syria. It’s doubtful there are any “good revolutionaries” in the three separate violent match-ups in Mali — it’s probably more akin to trying to gain control over an Animal Farm type situation. But once a country is so destabilized and degenerated into violence, it’s an easy task for our humanitarian Western Empire to make the “right to protect” arguments that it “has to do something.” So of course that “something” is always to drone bomb them. Casualty-free drone bombing that only takes foreign citizens’ lives and extrajudicial killing that flows from elevating the lawlessness of war over the rule of law is sold as the US’ new miracle cure. That’s how the Zero Dark Thirty propaganda coincidentally works to get Americans to cheer for the end of the film and get sucked into believing in and supporting the role of US Lethal Enforcer of “world peace”–see “Rebranding the War on Terror for the age of Obama: ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ and the promotion of extra judicial killing” and “‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Is bin Laden’s Last Victory.”

    Along with preying upon our (liberal) heartstrings and tugging at our American Exceptionalist-Interventionist impulses, there is also the extremely problematic over-emphasis at play by international law academics and “human rights” groups in the U.S.-NATO-Israel hegemony who have been led to almost totally ignore the “supreme crime” under international law. The problem with this type of emphasis only on “human rights” (Universal Declaration of Human Rights) and the “humanitarian law of warfare” (Geneva Conventions, etc. the rules about how war is waged) is that the more ingrained, older concept of jus ad bellum is forgotten. That wars of aggression are the supreme crime does not mix well with the “policeman of the world” notion. The “policeman of the world” role is of course seen as above the old (petty) Nuremberg Principle prohibition just as Nixon declared it wasn’t illegal if the president does it.

    In line with Martin Luther King Jr.’s warning NOT to believe that God chose America to be policeman of the world and that violence begets violence, President Obama should note that King simply pleaded for America to come home. That would have certainly included U.S. drones.

    End of article

  57. anonymously posted
    1, March 9, 2013

    I guess the new tag line for the White House is… What air strikes?

  58. In his opening paragraph, Professor Turley makes several unwarranted assertions that I think require deconstruction before going on to read anything else he has to say about his chosen subject.

    Professor Turley asserts that a letter from Attorney General Eric Holder “triggered” a “principled” filibuster by Senator Rand Paul. This statement contains two unfortunate errors. First: regarding cause-and-effect, many motivations could have “triggered” Senator Paul’s filibuster, including a simple, vain desire for publicity — not exactly a rarely observed phenomenon among U. S. Senators — or a need to hustle campaign funds necessary for a future political campaign, or a desire for a leadership position in the Republican Party, and so on and so forth. Second: Professor Turley simply assumes that Senator Paul’s filibuster proceeds from “principles,” because Senator Paul says so. But one can just as easily speculate that the hours of talking by Senator Paul took place because of “expediency” provided by the nomination of John Brennan for C.I.A. Director, a man implicated in both the torture regime of former President George W. Bush and the extra-judicial assassination regime of current President Barack Obama. A truly principled Senator would have opposed the nomination of this amoral monster for obvious and compelling reasons of law and conscience — not simply because the nomination afforded Senator Paul a vehicle for ruminating ineffectively before television cameras about pet right-wing red-meat political issues like praying to the Invisible Sky Wizard in schools, busting labor unions in the automobile industry, guns guns guns everywhere, and restricting a woman’s right to a safe abortion whenever she and her doctor decide upon that medical course of action for her. A “principled” objection to the nomination of John Brennan would have vehemently and acidly opposed the nomination of John Brennan. Period.

    Professor Turley also asserts that Senator Paul’s filibuster — I won’t try to qualify the noun with an adjective — “embarrassed” Democratic Senators “who, again, chose personality over principle in staying silent.” Several glaring errors here, too. First: why would any Democratic Senator feel “embarrassed” about not joining a Republican colleague in flogging many economic and culture-war issues that they do not agree with in the least? Second, whose “personality” did these Democratic Senator’s choose over principle? Eric Holder’s? President Obama’s? Professor Turley doesn’t say. Really sloppy writing here. Third: what does Professor Turley mean by “again”? As a matter of fact, many Democratic Senators formerly opposed — and successfully derailed — John Brennan’s nomination for CIA Director the first time President Obama put forward this tarnished man for a position he does not deserve and should never have. So the question rightfully becomes: Why did those Democratic Senators not oppose Brennan this time around by joining Senator Rand Paul’s filibuster?

    As the final vote for confirmation showed, Senator Rand Paul might have had thirty or more Democratic Senators join his filibuster had he in fact opposed the nomination of John Brennan for CIA Director for all the good and numerous reasons which explain why these Democratic Senators oppose this bloodstained bureaucratic minion. But time after time in his filibuster, Senator Paul kept repeating that he did not really oppose John Brennan or President Obama what they have done and wish to continue doing. Instead Senator Paul essentially took thirteen hours to say:

    “I don’t like some things that I suspect some amoral monster might do in the future — theoretically — but I feel perfectly comfortable going along with the confirmation of this particular amoral monster and his master who together have done and will do everything and more that I claim not to want done.”

    And Professor Turley considers this kind of self-serving gobbledegook “principled”?

    I don’t.

  59. How a U.S. Citizen Came to Be in America’s Cross Hairs
    Published: March 9, 2013

    WASHINGTON — One morning in late September 2011, a group of American drones took off from an airstrip the C.I.A. had built in the remote southern expanse of Saudi Arabia. The drones crossed the border into Yemen, and were soon hovering over a group of trucks clustered in a desert patch of Jawf Province, a region of the impoverished country once renowned for breeding Arabian horses.

    A group of men who had just finished breakfast scrambled to get to their trucks. One was Anwar al-Awlaki, the firebrand preacher, born in New Mexico, who had evolved from a peddler of Internet hatred to a senior operative in Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen. Another was Samir Khan, another American citizen who had moved to Yemen from North Carolina and was the creative force behind Inspire, the militant group’s English-language Internet magazine.

    Two of the Predator drones pointed lasers on the trucks to pinpoint the targets, while the larger Reapers took aim. The Reaper pilots, operating their planes from thousands of miles away, readied for the missile shots, and fired.

    It was the culmination of years of painstaking intelligence work, intense deliberation by lawyers working for President Obama and turf fights between the Pentagon and the C.I.A., whose parallel drone wars converged on the killing grounds of Yemen. For what was apparently the first time since the Civil War, the United States government had carried out the deliberate killing of an American citizen as a wartime enemy and without a trial.

    Eighteen months later, despite the Obama administration’s effort to keep it cloaked in secrecy, the decision to hunt and kill Mr. Awlaki has become the subject of new public scrutiny and debate, touched off by the nomination of John O. Brennan, Mr. Obama’s counterterrorism adviser, to be head of the C.I.A.

    The leak last month of an unclassified Justice Department “white paper” summarizing the administration’s abstract legal arguments — prepared months after the Awlaki and Khan killings amid an internal debate over how much to disclose — has ignited demands for even greater transparency, culminating last week in a 13-hour Senate filibuster that temporarily delayed Mr. Brennan’s confirmation. Some wondered aloud: If the president can order the assassination of Americans overseas, based on secret intelligence, what are the limits to his power?

    This account of what led to the Awlaki strike, based on interviews with three dozen current and former legal and counterterrorism officials and outside experts, fills in new details of the legal, intelligence and military challenges faced by the Obama administration in what proved to be a landmark episode in American history and law. It highlights the perils of a war conducted behind a classified veil, relying on missile strikes rarely acknowledged by the American government and complex legal justifications drafted for only a small group of officials to read.

    The missile strike on Sept. 30, 2011, that killed Mr. Awlaki — a terrorist leader whose death lawyers in the Obama administration believed to be justifiable — also killed Mr. Khan, though officials had judged he was not a significant enough threat to warrant being specifically targeted. The next month, another drone strike mistakenly killed Mr. Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, who had set off into the Yemeni desert in search of his father. Within just two weeks, the American government had killed three of its own citizens in Yemen. Only one had been killed on purpose.

  60. Elaine M. 1, March 9, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    How a U.S. Citizen Came to Be in America’s Cross Hairs
    That article has a reference to:

    But as months passed, Mr. Barron and Mr. Lederman grew uneasy. They told colleagues there were issues they had not adequately addressed, particularly after reading a legal blog that focused on a statute that bars Americans from killing other Americans overseas.

    (your link). That statute is:

    A person who, being a national of the United States, kills or attempts to kill a national of the United States while such national is outside the United States but within the jurisdiction of another country shall be punished as provided under sections 1111, 1112, and 1113.

    (18 USC § 1119(b), Foreign murder of United States nationals). 18 USC § 1111 describes it as murder in the first degree, 2nd degree, or manslaughter depending on the facts.

  61. Elaine M. 1, March 9, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    How a U.S. Citizen Came to Be in America’s Cross Hairs
    Empty wheel has a critique of that article, and intends to fully develop their criticism in a post today:

    I’ll have far more to say about this irresponsibly credulous accounting of the background to the Anwar al-Awlaki killing from the NYT tomorrow. But for the moment I wanted to point to an interesting detail about the genesis of the June-July 2010 OLC memo.

    (Empty Wheel, March 9, 2013).

  62. Evidently the legal blog that had discussed 11 USC 1119 has commented on the issue:

    I’m grateful to Ken, Wells Bennett, and Marcy Wheeler for speculating that my April 2010 blog post on 18 USC 1119, the foreign-murder statute, is the post referred to in today’s New York Times article on the behind-the-scenes machinations that culminated in the CIA using a drone to kill Anwar al-Awlaki. I imagine they are correct; the post fits the timeline and Marcy notes that no other post around that time on a legal blog specifically addressed the foreign-murder statute. If so, it’s a testament to the growing importance of academic blogging.

    (Opinio Juris). The writer goes on to say:

    In this post, I want to discuss the part of the White Paper that seems to be motivated by the questions I raised in my 2010 post — Part III, which argues that killing a US citizen abroad who qualifies as a senior operational leader in al-Qaeda or its associated forces would not be murder because the individual responsible for the killing would be entitled to a public-authority defense.


  63. “Within just two weeks, the American government had killed three of its own citizens in Yemen. Only one had been killed on purpose.”

    Thus the question Senator Rand Paul should have asked of Attorney General Holder and President Obama:

    “How many accidental homicides do you get to commit with impunity before you must restrict yourselves to only the murders you actually intend?”

    The Constitution does not vest in the President or any of his minions the authority to commit crimes. Not accidentally. Not on purpose. Not one. Not more than one. Not in time of peace. Not in time of war. Not at any time. Never. Attorney General Holder, President Obama and CIA Director John Brennan obviously think otherwise. And the Congress and Courts apparently agree.

    or, in another manner of speaking:

    Don’t You Know We’re At AUMF?

    He’ll only kill some Muslims,
    not us, he — sort of — says;.
    unless we travel overseas,
    in which case, when he slays
    on purpose or by accident,
    no law on earth delays
    or otherwise impedes our king
    who’s found that killing pays
    although the Senator complains
    but then his crimes OKs.

    Michael Murry, The Misfortune Teller, Copyright 2013

  64. oh, please. we’ve had drones for over a decade and now Ron Paul wants to stick up for his son and keep the ball rolling so his (Rand’s) name stays in the news because he intends on running for president in 2016. where were you and Rand when we started using them years ago??? i can see right through that political bull. Rand and his convinced “cronies” are an embarrasment to politics and his 13 hour cry-baby speach did not impress me at all. The Constitution is clear and Rand already knew the answer to his question before he asked it. The Constitution has defended itself well over 200 years without “The great defender, Rand Paul” to defend it. What Rand did was childish,a waste of MY money and there was a time where i would have voted for him, but after that stunt; you can forget it. A freshman Senator needs to read the constitution and understand it as i did in 9th grade social studies, for crying out loud. It doesn’t matter the type of weapon, whether it be a cannon,rifle,or a drone; the Executive Branch doesn’t have the authority without Congressional approval. So his speach was an embarassment to politics and the next time he should be escorted off the Senate floor and spanked like the child that he acts like. I’m not even a supporter of Obama or a Democrat and he will never get my vote.

  65. TJC, what, no pom-poms?! You actually believe this “terrorist” propaganda, which is a ploy to destroy the liberties of, and continue the stealing from, compliant sheeple? This is not a slippery slope but a train wreck straight to hell. Wake up!

  66. What is this “social contract” of which you speak? When did I enter into said contract? How do I forfeit my right to participate?

    How do I waive rights which are inalienable?

    Convenience is no excuse for making crap up.

  67. To who wrote about the ‘social contract’ above: I never signed a contract where half of my money was to be stolen by the mafia in power aka government. I was born here, I should not have to move to have my property not stolen from me.

  68. “What is this “social contract” of which you speak?”

    It is the underpinning of the theory of government (as in all forms of government) by where people join together for mutual benefit which is sometimes derived from the limitation of absolute rights found in the state of nature. Inalienable is not the same thing as absolute.

    “When did I enter into said contract?”

    When you were born into an organized society with a government and not into some lawless state of barbarism.

    “How do I forfeit my right to participate?”

    In the United States, you may simply renounce your citizenship. Be prepared though that if you seek citizenship in any country with a government, you will simply be trading one social compact for another.

    “I never signed a contract where half of my money was to be stolen by the mafia in power aka government.”

    The consent to the social compact upon birth is implicit. You may – in many but not all countries – expressly opt out upon reaching the age of majority by renouncing your citizenship.

    “I was born here, I should not have to move to have my property not stolen from me.”

    Argument by false equivalence and incomplete comparison. Taxes are not theft. They form the funding base for every form of government so no matter where you move – unless you choose some lawless hellhole where the only law is the law of the gun – you are going to be paying taxes.

    These are the facts of political science and the theory of government.

    If you don’t like them, I hear the Somali pirates are hiring.

  69. Published on Monday, April 30, 2012 by Common Dreams
    Jeremy Scahill: US Has Become ‘Nation of Assassins’
    US Peace conference puts face to drone victims
    – Common Dreams staff

    International law experts, peace activists, journalists and human rights advocates from around the world gathered in Washington, DC over the weekend to inform the American public about US drone policy and the impact it is having on human populations throughout the world.

    Peace group CODEPINK and the legal advocacy organizations Reprieve and the Center for Constitutional Rights hosted the first International Drone Summit as a way to build an organizing strategy against the growing use of drones, call an end to airstrikes that kill innocent civilians, and to prevent the potentially widespread misuse both overseas and in the United States.

    “Drone victims are not just figures on a piece of paper, they are real people and that’s why it is important to see what happens on the ground when a missile hits a target,” said Pakistani attorney Shahzad Akbar, according to the Pakistani newspaper DAWN. “We have to see what exactly is happening on the ground, what is happening to the people,” he told the Washington conference.

    During his speech, journalist Jeremy Scahill, who has done in-depth reporting on the US drone program in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen, questioned the Obama Administration’s policy of assassination. “What is happening to this country right now?” asked Scahill after noting that recent legislation in the US Congress opposing the assassination of US citizens abroad without due process received only six votes in the House of Representatives. “We have become a nation of assassins. We have become a nation that is somehow silent in the face of — or embraces, as polls indicate — the idea that assassination should be one of the centerpieces of US foreign policy. How dangerous is this? It’s a throwback to another era — an era that I think many Americans thought was behind them. And the most dangerous part of this is the complicity of ordinary people in it.” [Note: See below, Part 4 at the 5:30 mark]

    Scahill was emphatic in his talk that the drone and assassination programs have received wide bi-partisan support and lamented those in the US who ceased to voice their concern over such policies as soon as President Bush left office. “President Obama has shown us in a very clear way that when it comes to the premiere national security policy of this nation, there is not a dime’s worth of difference between the Democrats and the Republicans.”

  70. LK,

    That was pretty much my reaction upon reading that story, but I think mine may have included several expletives.

  71. Gene H:

    “What is this “social contract” of which you speak? When did I enter into said contract? How do I forfeit my right to participate?

    How do I waive rights which are inalienable?

    Convenience is no excuse for making crap up.”


    It’s staggering how many folks have no idea about their government, its processes, much less its historical and philosophical underpinnings. Do you really have to be a poly sci major to know about Locke, Hobbes, Rousseau, et als?

  72. mespo, et al,
    I don’t know if this is widespread in public school education across the country, but my youngest never took a single civics course all the way through school. When I was in school, we were required to take civics in the eighth grade and had to take a course called “Government” in either the eleventh or 12th grade. The latter was almost entirely focused on the Constitution. Those courses are no longer required for graduation in our state.

    My guess is that is the way the Koch and Bush families want it, not to mention the GOP.

  73. “In 2009, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor founded iCivics to reverse Americans’ declining civic knowledge and participation. Securing our democracy, she realized, requires teaching the next generation to understand and respect our system of governance. Today iCivics comprises not just our board and staff, but also a national leadership team of state supreme court justices, secretaries of state, and educational leaders and a network of committed volunteers. Together, we are committed to passing along our legacy of democracy to the next generation.

    In just two years, iCivics has produced 16 educational video games as well as vibrant teaching materials that have been used in classrooms in all 50 states. Today we offer the nation’s most comprehensive, standards-aligned civics curriculum that is available freely on the Web.”


  74. http://www.civicmissionofschools.org/the-campaign

    “The Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools is a coalition of over 70 national civic learning, education, civic engagement and business groups committed to improving the quality and quantity of civic learning in American schools. The Campaign’s goal is to increase and improve civic learning in grades K-12 by working for policies that implement the recommendations of the Civic Mission of Schools report. This includes efforts to bring about changes in national, state, and local education policy.”

  75. I can see that Gene H. had drank the statist cool-aid. A very well educated (indoctrinated) response!

    Nobody can be born into a contract (unless they are a slave). A contract is entered into voluntarily, and for mutual benefit, and only upon reaching the age of majority. If the underpinnings of government are merely a “theory” as you state above, then they do not exist in reality. A society is merely an aggregation of different individuals who decide to live together (more or less) cooperatively.

    This “contract” that is dragged out by statists is used to bludgeon any logical dialog and impose an artificial authority over your existence: “You, are obligated to support, via TAXES, anything your elected representatives (masters) dictate. It’s part of the Social Contract.”

    Your false dichotomy of choice, either “organized society” or “barbarism” is no choice at all. By “organized society” you mean the the command and control society in which the will of a small minority of the elites (aka oligarchy) is imposed on the majority – which is what we have today.

    “You may opt out by renouncing your citizenship”, is there, again to present a false dichotomy, presuming that you are either 100% supporting the establishment, or out. There’s no other choice. Sorry my friend, but there are plenty of choices.

    And your justification for taxes is also false. While taxes are the life-blood of government, prior to 1916, there was no direct taxation, and somehow we all manged to survive, prosper, and become the place where everyone in the world wanted to migrate. How can the State do, what for you would be illegal, but because they have a badge and a gun (and funny hats, and a printing press), suddenly it’s not only legal, but acceptable?

    And to drag out the old tired “Somali pirates” meme. Really?

  76. Brad:

    The indoctrinated one is clearly you. Not Gene. While no underage person can contract, they can be the beneficiary of a contract at birth. That’s why government is, in essence,a public trust contract for all it’s citizens, capacity to contract notwithstanding. Once the age of majority is reached you can opt out by renouncing your citizenship, but few do. Your point about being subjected to some kind of oligharchical oppression is equally wrongheaded. We enjoy more freedom in our republic than most anywhere else on earth and your cynical take on representative democracy is disproven every time we don’t have to say “President Romney.” You may not like the notion of a social contract but you derive it’s benefits nonetheless. Why shouldn’t you do your part like the rest of us?

  77. Ah mespo727272, you are right. What was I thinking?

    I suppose the contract to which you refer is the Constitution? The one of which I am considered “Posterity”, and therefor the third party beneficiary? Is there another that I’m missing, or are we still in the land of theory?

    While it’s true that I have the right to “opt-out” as you so quaintly put it, by renouncing my citizenship, I would prefer that they actually keep the terms of the agreement. Unfortunately, I’m afraid your assertion is correct. We now live in a representative democracy.

    As well educated as you obviously are, I’m sure that it has not escaped your attention that we were originally founded as a REPUBLIC, and have devolved into democracy. In case the differences have blurred over the decades, perhaps a refresher is in order: http://www.lexrex.com/enlightened/AmericanIdeal/aspects/demrep.html

    And maybe the discussion should revolve around “freedom”, of which the US barely ranks in the top 10, where once it was first. (http://www.heritage.org/index/ranking)

    Alas, I don’t have as much time to spend debating on these types of topics as I used to. It now takes too much of my time, as a beneficiary of the social contract, to pay off my share of the national debt, which is currently $53,140.22 as of today. But I’m working on it!

  78. Brian,

    And I see you slept through your civics, logic and rhetoric classes by your false equivalences (education is not indoctrination) and your ad hominem which are both logical fallacies and ineffective rhetoric. Your lack of knowledge of basic civics is best illustrated by this sentence:

    “I’m sure that it has not escaped your attention that we were originally founded as a REPUBLIC, and have devolved into democracy.”

    If you understood the Constitution within the proper framework of jurisprudence, legal theory and political science, you would know this sentence is gibberish. By the terms of the Constitution, the U.S. was formed as a constitutional presidential representative democratic secular republic . . . ergo it was a democracy from the start and didn’t “devolve” into one. U.S. Const., Art. I-III. Other documents that informed or shed light the drafting of our Constitution (such as the Declaration of Independence, The Federalist Papers, Paine’s Common Sense, the letters of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, etc.) establish that this was intentional just as was creating the Separation of Powers Doctrine by structuring the government in a triumvirate form or creating a Separation of Church and State by operation of the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the 1st Amendment.

    I also suggest reading “The Social Contract or the Principles of Political Right” by Jean Jacques Rousseau (1762) and “Leviathan” by Thomas Hobbes.

    I’m always perplexed? amused? astounded? by people who try to use the words “education” or “educated” as a pejorative. It’s does say something about them though. You can start by reading the above named documents and about the history around them if you should wish to alleviate your seeming self-inflicted wound.

    Or not.

    I’m good with it either way.

  79. Brad:
    It’s really too bad you don’t have more time to debate. Stand-up like yours is hard to find.

  80. […] Much like Holder’s letter to Rand Paul, which purportedly settled the issue on whether drone strikes on citizens here on U.S. soil are permitted, you have to pay very close attention to what he really said. As prominent Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley astutely observed, Holder’s responses can leave “a hole big enough to fly a drone through.” […]

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