Sen. Paul continues the fight on drone killings

posted at 10:01 am on May 5, 2014 by Gabriel Malor

Sen. Paul’s drone filibuster last year made him the go-to presumptive candidate for civil liberties-emphasizing Republicans. The smart thing about that filibuster was that he wasn’t asking for the impossible; he sought a small, but significant disclosure from President Obama that he did not have the authority to drone-kill an American citizen in the United States.

This week, Sen. Paul continues that smart strategy:

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.

The attack also killed another American citizen, Samir Khan, the creator of an online magazine catering to jihadists.

Put simply: no memo, no vote.

It is not an outrageous ask for Paul considering that the Second Circuit has already ordered Justice to release portions of the memos at issue. The court’s reasoning is noteworthy, by the way: “a unanimous three-judge panel said the government waived its right to secrecy by making repeated public statements justifying targeted killings.” In other words, if Obama wants to brag about drone killing, he’s going to have to explain himself when asked for legal justification.

Paul is walking a fine line in the run up to 2016.  He’s strong on drone killing, but weak on Iran. He endorsed Sen. Collins on the one hand, but on the other campaigns for Greg Brannon. The big thing Paul has going for him is that, much like his father, he seems to motivate supporters who would otherwise throw up their hands and walk away. 


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Paul is walking a fine line in the run up to 2016.

If he keeps kissing butt like he has, that fine line, will be non-existent.

upinak on May 5, 2014 at 10:04 AM

Remember the bad ol’ days before Hope and Change when the fascist, drug abusing, Nazi preznit couldn’t just erase someone on a whim?

Thank Gaia we’ve moved beyond all that.

Bishop on May 5, 2014 at 10:04 AM

Is the ungrateful loaf of bread a regular contributor now?

Red Widow on May 5, 2014 at 10:06 AM

Not a great time to be fighting to limit our national defense options, Rand.

kcewa on May 5, 2014 at 10:07 AM

Anwar al-Awlaki…the adult who publicly renounced his citizenship many times and had tried to take steps through his father to formally renounce it through State Dept isn’t a citizen in my eyes.
words matter. Are we now saying we can force a person to be a citizen??
I get so tired of the butt hurt over this guy.

his 16 yr old son…different story and the one people should be mad at.

dmacleo on May 5, 2014 at 10:09 AM

The more likely explanation for Paul’s positions is that he is pandering to get a bigger base of support for a 2016 presidential run.

That would be unfortunate as there is already too much of this sort of crap in politics. It makes me less trustful of him.

tkc882 on May 5, 2014 at 10:12 AM

Not a great time to be fighting to limit our national defense options, Rand.

kcewa on May 5, 2014 at 10:07 AM

Wanna be on the receiving end of one of those “options”? Someday you will, just for voting the wrong way.

Rix on May 5, 2014 at 10:14 AM

That would be unfortunate as there is already too much of this sort of crap in politics. It makes me less trustful of him.

tkc882 on May 5, 2014 at 10:12 AM

Daddy is pushing him.

upinak on May 5, 2014 at 10:15 AM

“The smart thing about that filibuster was that he wasn’t asking for the impossible;” A dig towards Senator Ted Cruz I see. Good thing you were not around during the Revolutionary War. It was impossible for a bunch of farmers to defeat the largest well trained army in the World. Yet somehow……they did.

If one NEVER tries the impossible, we will NEVER if it really was possible. Senator Paul isn’t just weak on Iran. Each day he gets weaker and weaker. Like his support for McConnell……

Conservative4Ever on May 5, 2014 at 10:16 AM

If one NEVER tries the impossible, we will NEVER if it really was possible.

Correction: If one NEVER tries the impossible, we will NEVER know if it really was possible.

Conservative4Ever on May 5, 2014 at 10:19 AM

Anwar al-Awlaki…the adult who publicly renounced his citizenship many times and had tried to take steps through his father to formally renounce it through State Dept isn’t a citizen in my eyes.
words matter. Are we now saying we can force a person to be a citizen??
I get so tired of the butt hurt over this guy.

his 16 yr old son…different story and the one people should be mad at.

I don’t have any sympathy for al-Awlaki. I do, however, reject the notion that the president can secretly decide to kill him.

tkc882 on May 5, 2014 at 10:20 AM

Rand is not the sprayed roach ideologue his dad is, but he seems to be pandering across the spectrum a bit too much and where he’s going is, to me, at least, unpredictable. I cannot trust him to be able to make the hard choices a Prez must make.

vnvet on May 5, 2014 at 10:25 AM

I don’t have any sympathy for al-Awlaki. I do, however, reject the notion that the president can secretly decide to kill him.

tkc882 on May 5, 2014 at 10:20 AM

Neither does dmacleo. It was the 16yr old son he/she had a problem with.

Conservative4Ever on May 5, 2014 at 10:27 AM

I don’t have any sympathy for al-Awlaki. I do, however, reject the notion that the president can secretly decide to kill him.

tkc882 on May 5, 2014 at 10:20 AM

I have no issues with any president killing a non-citizen (key word) who tries to kill us.
but I am very upset about the son getting droned. he was a citizen.

dmacleo on May 5, 2014 at 10:29 AM

Conservative4Ever on May 5, 2014 at 10:27 AM

I am a he :)
at least biologically..mentally I am unclassified I guess :)
no big secret, last name macleod so just slid one letter over years (12 or so) ago to create a user name and it stuck.

dmacleo on May 5, 2014 at 10:30 AM

Had a long chat this AM with my 20-year-old son while taking him to the airport. He said he won’t vote for anyone but Rand Paul in 2016, and if America doesn’t elect Paul the nation is doomed. He said that otherwise, by the time he is 40 he expects to not be living in the USA anymore.

Young people are talking about this drone stuff A LOT. They talk about the erosion of civil liberties A LOT. Whichever party takes up these issues with real plans for change is going to win over this generation.

Anwar al-Awlaki…the adult who publicly renounced his citizenship many times and had tried to take steps through his father to formally renounce it through State Dept isn’t a citizen in my eyes.
words matter. Are we now saying we can force a person to be a citizen??
I get so tired of the butt hurt over this guy.

his 16 yr old son…different story and the one people should be mad at.

dmacleo on May 5, 2014 at 10:09 AM

But where do you draw that line? Don’t you think you have the right to know where your President has drawn that line so you can decide of you agree with that? Shouldn’t Congress have some say in this? Don’t you want to know whether Obama knew the strike was going to kill Awlaki’s son, and he authorized it anyway, or if that was just unfortunate and unforeseen collateral damage?

rockmom on May 5, 2014 at 10:33 AM

But where do you draw that line? Don’t you think you have the right to know where your President has drawn that line so you can decide of you agree with that? Shouldn’t Congress have some say in this? Don’t you want to know whether Obama knew the strike was going to kill Awlaki’s son, and he authorized it anyway, or if that was just unfortunate and unforeseen collateral damage?

rockmom on May 5, 2014 at 10:33 AM

I thought I was clear.
citizenship matters.
I also said I am mad about the son as I think obama knew and didn’t care. that caravan was targeted knowing Anwar al-Awlaki was NOT there.
but all the articles about this almost always deal with Anwar al-Awlaki. he deserved it and I myself would have signed off on it.

dmacleo on May 5, 2014 at 10:37 AM

I have no issues with any president killing a non-citizen (key word) who tries to kill us.
but I am very upset about the son getting droned. he was a citizen.

I do. This is the stuff of third world dictators. If the guy was that bad then why is it so hard to publicly make the case?

I’m not so sure he was a non-citizen but then I’d probably know better if this wasn’t all some big secret. Then, as you point out, there is the matter of his son. This needs to be explained. The president doesn’t have the power to order executions, much less secretly.

tkc882 on May 5, 2014 at 10:37 AM

Even in conventional wars, enemies have shielded themselves with innocents.

This gives them a feeling of invulnerability, as they employ the ‘Rules for Radicals’ tactic #4: “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.”

As to the dead terrorists (from the Indiana Jones movie): They chose poorly.

As to this or any other administration: Follow the protocol by getting the stakeholders buy-in.

socalcon on May 5, 2014 at 10:39 AM

I do. This is the stuff of third world dictators. If the guy was that bad then why is it so hard to publicly make the case?

I’m not so sure he was a non-citizen but then I’d probably know better if this wasn’t all some big secret. Then, as you point out, there is the matter of his son. This needs to be explained. The president doesn’t have the power to order executions, much less secretly.

tkc882 on May 5, 2014 at 10:37 AM

what case (for Anwar al-Awlaki) needs to be made? the videos of him renouncing citizenship and vowing to kill US citizens not enough?
theres no secret there, bastards deserved everything he got.

the issue is the son. there has been no clear “case” made for him and that is a huge problem to me. and if I could ruin obama with this I would in a heartbeat.
but as far as Anwar al-Awlaki himself I think its the one time I have actually agreed with Obama. And somehow I can’t help but think he accidentally got one right (or someone did it for him) because hes not usually right about protecting our interests.
people hate to admit it but assassinations are sometimes needed, just like water boarding was. BUT they need to be non-citizens. to me safety of US citizens are the only ones that matter.

dmacleo on May 5, 2014 at 10:51 AM

what case (for Anwar al-Awlaki) needs to be made? the videos of him renouncing citizenship and vowing to kill US citizens not enough?
theres no secret there, bastards deserved everything he got.

When it comes to the death penalty (something I don’t approve of) I’m gonna want something a little more concrete than the president decision done in secret. I’ve got no sympathy for al-Awlaki (the father) but this should not have happened. I don’t care who the victim is but the president cannot play judge, jury, and executioner in secret.

I agree with you about the son.

tkc882 on May 5, 2014 at 10:56 AM

This is a no-brainer for Rand. No matter what you think of al-Awlaki – and I think he was a scumbag who deserved what he got – this or any other administration shouldn’t be allowed to execute people based on secret law.

These memos are supposedly legal justification for known government policy. There’s no way they should be classified.

Free societies don’t allow the government to make secret laws. This is pretty basic.

Inkblots on May 5, 2014 at 11:01 AM

Let’s see –

The president made the decision for a drone strike that killed
an innocent.

The president decided not to send help to Benghazi.

These two statements have a powerful common thread….the president
making a decision to 1) kill or 2) not to protect. All according
to his whims; not the power of the constitution, etc.

I see this as the bigger picture.

Amjean on May 5, 2014 at 11:22 AM

Drone killings of fundamentalist Muslims is the only thing I agree with Obama on. He would likely have trouble stopping the drone killings without pissing off the military brass.

Buddahpundit on May 5, 2014 at 11:51 AM

If domestic terrorist Bill Ayers visited ‘palestine’ to show support for their attacks on Israel, could a Republican president drone him?

slickwillie2001 on May 5, 2014 at 12:34 PM

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.

Clearly the Koch Brothers are up to no good.

Midas on May 5, 2014 at 12:37 PM

If domestic terrorist Bill Ayers visited ‘palestine’ to show support for their attacks on Israel, could a Republican president drone him?

slickwillie2001 on May 5, 2014 at 12:34 PM

President Midas might very well give that order.

Midas on May 5, 2014 at 12:38 PM

…he’s gotta quit talking to daddy!

KOOLAID2 on May 5, 2014 at 3:12 PM

I don’t have any sympathy for al-Awlaki. I do, however, reject the notion that the president can secretly decide to kill him.

tkc882 on May 5, 2014 at 10:20 AM

Precisely.

Unilateral power of death-by-drone in the hands of an overpromoted wanna-be tribal king is a bad idea no matter how you look at it. And should this power be passed on to Shrillary Clintoon…

LawfulGood on May 6, 2014 at 12:16 AM