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Rand Paul speaking in defense of liberty on the floor of the Senate

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This is exactly what we've been needing.
Senator Paul is not perfect, but I think those are errors in his reasoning.
Overall I find him to be the most principled in politics today.
Good on him.

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This is exactly what we've been needing.

Senator Paul is not perfect, but I think those are errors in his reasoning.

Overall I find him to be the most principled in politics today.

Good on him.

 

Completely agree, and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to vote for him at some point.

 

He has been kicking some ass today. 

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From what I heard, he seems to think there are situations where killing Islamic militants would be ok outside of American soil. He is asking for clarification of the circumstances under which the administration thinks it would be constitutional to kill an American citizen (or non-American) on American soil without trial. His beef boils down to the ambiguity the administration seems to embrace regarding the definition of "imminent attack." Specifically, if someone were not actively engaged in violence, but rather having coffee at Starbucks, does the administration hold the right to execute that person without trial? He has repeatedly said he is concerned that the rules of war are being reserved for use on American soil as a substitute for judicial processes.

Edited by FeatherFall
: typo correction

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Not if that lawmaker is trying to get the executive branch to go on record with the opinion that extrajudicial killings of US citizens aren't ok. I think that's worth something. Edit: but you're right, don't craft the laws that way in the first place.

Edited by FeatherFall

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Not if that lawmaker is trying to get the executive branch to go on record with the opinion that extrajudicial killings of US citizens aren't ok. I think that's worth something.

 

Has the U.S. government killed someone who it ought not to have killed? 

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Probably thousands, but to really answer your question, no, not necessarily any with a drone strike. The case of Al Awlaki's 16 year old son is worth scrutiny, but it doesn't represent a clear example of wrongdoing. That's because we recognize that the rules of war, especially on foreign soil, are different than the rules of criminal justice. To my knowledge, no drone strikes have occurred on US soil to date. I just want to make sure that when that happens, it isn't a substitute for trial by jury. Using a killer drone on US soil could be appropriate, but not by employing the same standards we use in pan-African/Asian war. On the battlefield it might be justified to ambush a guy at a wedding ceremony. Cold and brutal, but justified. I can't conceive of how you'd do that on American soil, to an American citizen, without violating our laws regarding due process.

I think further clarification is needed, considering this administration's (and the judicial branch's) penchant for creating laws like the most recent National Defense Authorization Act (which allows for the indefinite detention of US citizens without trial, in case your memory is foggy).

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The specific concrete of a drone is relevant when it comes to surveillance -- since it has the potential to monitor much more than the narrow target. However, when it comes to killing people, I think the concrete of "drone strikes" is a bit of a distraction. If the government can legitimately kill someone, then the legitimacy does not change if the killing is done by FBI sniper or by drone. So, the question is: under what circumstances can the government kill someone who has not been tried and sentenced to death?   (I also think the victim's citizenship is a distraction. If someone has reached a stage where it is right that he be killed -- e.g. he is about to kill someone else -- his citizenship is not material.)

 

As a general rule, we want the government to apprehend people, not kill them without trial. In the U.S., and in any area under the control of the U.S., the only exception I can think of is where killing the person is the only practical way of stopping them from causing serious harm to others, and where apprehending them is impractical. I assume that law enforcement already has all sorts of rules about the use of deadly force. 

 

Even when it comes to areas outside the control of the U.S. government -- there are many other governments that would work with the U.S. to apprehend bad-guys. The real issue is governments that are hostile to the U.S. or governments that are not in control of their own territory. Also, this is only an issue when there is no active war in progress.

 

This is not a rigorous list, just a few things I would like to see:

  • principles that lay out when a person may be killed: the nature of the threat, the need to kill versus the ability to apprehend, etc.
  • some type of "second party" (basically judicial) review of the executive decision
  • some type of notice -- unless specifically shown to be a situation where notice is detrimental

It was no secret to anyone that the U.S. might kill Bin Laden if they got a chance. It is the same for a few rungs below that too. There are many people who know that the U.S. government knows who they are and would like to get them. There's no secret about their identity. For such people, why can't the administration issue "Wanted" notices? Perhaps a preliminary notice informs them that they are wanted by the U.S. government and must surrender to the nearest U.S. representative within (say) 1 month, or else be served with a "Wanted Dead or Alive" notice. I'm just coming up with this on the fly. My real point is that a few experienced lawyers, policemen and military men can come up with a decent set of rules. 

 

Congress needs to do this. It is unlikely that the executive will come up with good rules: since they're the ones who need to act, they will always seek the most flexible rules that allow them wide power of interpretation. If congress does not come up with good rules, the executive will come up with flexible ones, and simply rely on its own judgement to do the right thing. 

 

Any congressman who is serious about protecting rights in this arena should be leading the effort to come up with a good set of rules. Without offering a good alternative to the flexi-rules of the executive, no change will come about. Instead, voters will simply fall back on the executive who are willing to act.

Edited by softwareNerd

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Rand Paul seems to be earning his paycheck. Despite his flaws of his view on war, his defense of the rule of law, the constitution, and what makes America America is inspiring.

 

To address all of these Muslim American citizen terrorists, maybe we should be more careful, thoughtful, and selective (screening your constitutional knowledge, American political philosophy, view on theocracy) in granting American citizenship. How the hell do these Muslims spewing Anti-American garbage become citizens?

Edited by abott1776

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To address all of these Muslim American citizen terrorists, maybe we should be more careful, thoughtful, and selective (screening your constitutional knowledge, American political philosophy, view on theocracy) in granting American citizenship. How the hell do these Muslims spewing Anti-American garbage become citizens?

In Anwar al-Awlaki's case, if I recall correctly, from being born in Colorado. I would guess a somewhat significant percentage now are natural born. And the First Amendment pretty much prohibits the US government from screening a citizenship candidate' views on theocracy.

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In Anwar al-Awlaki's case, if I recall correctly, from being born in Colorado. I would guess a somewhat significant percentage now are natural born. And the First Amendment pretty much prohibits the US government from screening a citizenship candidate' views on theocracy.

Perhaps they should then. Especially if the US govt continues to recognize snd treat Islam in the same way as other 'legitimate' religions. They did take away Jeffers' rights and the reason was his practice of his 'religion'.

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Ruveyn, Paul gets a break when he allows a question or comment without yielding the floor. A buddy of his then comes up with a filibuster speech/question of his own. In the meantime Paul can do whatever he wants. Theoretically he could go to his chair and sleep, as far as I know. It's sort of like a tag-team wrestling match. At one point Marco Rubio was tagged in to try to persuade the opposition that they may want the support of other senators in getting an answer from the president at some time in the future.

 

Edit: Senator Cruz even proclaimed his reverence for Ayn Rand and mentioned her observation that there is no way to rule over innocent men, so dictators will make everyone criminals.

SNerd, I agree with your position. Drones and citizenship really aren't central to the issue. This argument is about the framework that determines when killing without trial is justified. A Department of Justice white paper regarding the administrations opinions on these matters was leaked, and it included almost exactly what we might expect regarding such an attack. Of chief importance, however, is the fact that the white paper defines "imminent threat" to mean something the rest of us don't seem to mean. Page seven:

 

 

First, 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 US persons or interests will take place in the immediate future.



It goes on to explain that such an imminent threat would have to be someone who is believed to engage in repeated operations, that capture not be feasible, and that the strike be conducted in a way that is consistent with US principles regarding the use of force; specifically principles of military force, as far as I can tell. Necessity, distinction, proportionality and humanity, to be specific (page 8). Because these killings would be carried out by the Department of Defense, they have little outside oversight. I would be satisfied by a notice system of the kind you mentioned, trial in absentia with the opportunity to submit evidence, etc.

Edited by FeatherFall

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Probably thousands, but to really answer your question, no, not necessarily any with a drone strike. The case of Al Awlaki's 16 year old son is worth scrutiny, but it doesn't represent a clear example of wrongdoing. That's because we recognize that the rules of war, especially on foreign soil, are different than the rules of criminal justice.

 

Just fo arguments sake lets assume that there was a perfectly rational reason to kill Awlaki's son. If that is so is it alright to not tell the people and congress what that reason was? Also ambiguous laws don't justify any wrongdoing...

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The speech at the end of Sen. Paul's filibuster:

"I sit at Henry Clay’s desk, and they call Henry Clay the 'Great Compromiser.' When I came to Washington, one of my fellow Senators said to me: Oh, I guess you will be the great compromiser. I kind of smiled at him and laughed. I learned a little bit about Henry Clay and his career.

"People think some of us won’t compromise, but there are many compromises. There are many things on which I am willing to split the difference. If the Democrats will ever come to us and say: We will fix and we will save Social Security, what age we change it to, how fast we do it–there are a lot of things on which we can split the difference. But the issue we have had today is one on which we don’t split the difference. I think you don’t get half of the fifth amendment. I don’t think you acknowledge that the President can obey the fifth amendment when he chooses. I don’t think y...ou acknowledge that the fifth amendment, due process, can somehow occur behind closed doors."
 

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Yes Daniel, I agree. I wasn't trying to say that ambiguity is moral license. I was just saying I don't know that the US ought not to have killed Al Awlaki's son. And yes, I think the details should be more accessible, but if it was a legitimate military action we typically must wait until the end of the conflict. I guess that's one more reason to have clearly defined wartime victory conditions.

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Not if that lawmaker is trying to get the executive branch to go on record with the opinion that extrajudicial killings of US citizens aren't ok.

The authors of the US Constitution had a shorter name for "extra-judicial killing". They called it war.

And they made it very clear that, given Congressional authorization, the President is fully in charge of any war fought by the US military. They do not in fact attempt to restrict the President's power to "extra-judicially" kill the enemy (irrespective of what citizenship they may hold), in any way. I don't see what changed since then.

As far as targeting enemies on US soil, the rules seem to be no more loose than the rules that govern Police action against dangerous criminals: people who are a danger to innocent civilians, and cannot be arrested for objective reasons, can in fact be killed instead.

From what I heard, he seems to think there are situations where killing Islamic militants would be ok outside of American soil. He is asking for clarification of the circumstances under which the administration thinks it would be constitutional to kill an American citizen (or non-American) on American soil without trial. His beef boils down to the ambiguity the administration seems to embrace regarding the definition of "imminent attack."

Law enforcement can kill a dangerous criminal even if the danger isn't imminent, so long as arrest is not an option. For instance, if the choice is between letting a serial killer go and shooting him as he's fleeing, law enforcement do in fact have every right to kill him.

If his beef is that the administration is refusing to limit itself by the criteria of "imminent attack", then he's wrong and the administration is right.

Specifically, if someone were not actively engaged in violence, but rather having coffee at Starbucks, does the administration hold the right to execute that person without trial?

I don't have a quote for you, but I seem to remember Holder making it clear that when arrest is feasible, killing is out of the question. And even if I'm remembering this wrong, it should be obvious that he would agree with that statement.

Besides, none of this means that federal agents who kill someone without justification, on US soil, are immune from prosecution.

Just fo arguments sake lets assume that there was a perfectly rational reason to kill Awlaki's son. If that is so is it alright to not tell the people and congress what that reason was? Also ambiguous laws don't justify any wrongdoing...

What are you talking about? Al Awlaki's son was killed in the drone strike targeting Ibrahim al-Banna. Asking for a reason is nonsensical. There wasn't a reason, because there was no intention to kill him. Edited by Nicky

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