Bob Owens

The saddest truth in politics is that people get the leaders they deserve

Wages of reciprocity

Written By: Bob - Mar• 05•13

Let’s be honest with ourselves: he’s not telling us anything we didn’t already know.

Attorney General Eric Holder can imagine a scenario in which it would be constitutional to carry out a drone strike against an American on American soil, he wrote in a letter to Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.

“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,” Holder replied in a letter yesterday to Paul’s question about whether Obama “has the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, and without trial.”

Paul condemned the idea. “The U.S. Attorney General’s refusal to rule out the possibility of drone strikes on American citizens and on American soil is more than frightening – it is an affront the Constitutional due process rights of all Americans,” he said in a statement.

One might suspect every President has privately held the view he has the right to kill an American or group of Americans without a trial if it was required to prevent a significant loss of life or stop a war from breaking out.

There is an justifiable argument that in truly extraordinary circumstances, what is morally right trumps both what is legal and constitutional. It’s a largely theoretical reality that Administrations simply don’t talk about in order to provide “plausible deniability” to the Executive Branch officials who would make such calls.

The extraordinary thing about Holder’s statement is that by publicly admitting that the White House reserves the rights to extrajudicially murder Americans, he’s also created probable culpability for the Administration for those kinds of actions when and if they occur.

Simply put, if Americans start dying as a result of drone strikes under the Obama Administration in less than 100% obvious and justifiable circumstances,  then Americans would have the moral right to consider whether the extrajudicial actions against the executive branch are justifiable in return.

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23 Comments

  1. Burnt Toast says:

    I have heard a few hypothetical cases where a domestic drone strike may be justified – to kill somebody who might be planning on killing other Americans / wage war on fellow Americans / commit treason before they can….

    Hmmm…

    Treason is the only crime (AFAIK) specified in the Constitution and suspects of that crime are constitutionally protected with certain rights,

    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.

    It would seem to me, being a layman, that premeditated violation of the Constitution by killing US Citizens with weapons of War (without the fog of insurrection) is clearly Treason.

    Not that it has occurred yet, but if it does, let the lamppost be the judge.

    • Steve D. says:

      I agree…but what if there is the “fog of insurrection.” What if there is actual declared insurrection? What if there is open, imminent violence against other citizens of the United States, on American soil? Do bad guys get a pass so long as they’re in North America? Has the U.S. become some sort of “gun-free zone” for terrorists? If they’re American citizens, should they be allowed to commit atrocities before we try to stop them?

      A drone is just a targeted weapon–like a bullet. There are plenty of liberal fools who object to the use of bullets against bad guys, but we rightly don’t listen to them. The important factor here is not which weapon is used but who was the target? Taking out a jihadi armed with a bomb is perfectly legitimate, using any weapon at all that’s capable of limiting its effect to the chosen target. Taking out a city block and killing dozens of innocent civilians in order to kill that same jihadi is something else…whether it happens in the US or not. And taking out a political opponent is something else again, whether you use a drone or hit him with a 4-cell Maglite.

  2. Fu#kObama says:

    The spineless republicans should use this as a reason for immediate impeachment.

    They will be held accountable for their cowardess by not upholding their oath. No quarter will be given should they continue and allow the communist we have in office to continue his destruction of our republic.

    • Klingonwork says:

      Amen and amen Fu#k.

      The GOP is absolutely spineless and w/o anything swinging right now, and the left will move in where there are vacancies.

  3. Steve D. says:

    I honestly don’t understand why this is such a big deal. The president has the Constitutional responsibility to respond to an insurrection, and drones are merely one weapon among many. If an American citizen, on American soil, is bearing arms against the country, would it be appropriate to kill him with an AR-15? A sniper rifle? How about a SAW? A fragmentation grenade? A rocket from a helicopter gunship? If “yes,” then why not a drone? When does a weapon become unconstitutional? Where’s the dividing line?

    There are a million justifiable reasons for outrage, but I don’t see this as one of them…considering that at this point, it remains merely theoretical.

    • Bill says:

      I’ll quote a commenter at WRSA:

      If Obama can drone kill an American on US soil, Obama can kill Americans on US soil. A drone has nothing to do with it. The Attorney General has just said we live or die on the whim of a dictator.

    • Fu#kObama says:

      Steve:

      I guess the bill of rights and due process of law mean nothing to you then? Is Imam Obama planning on using this weapon to wipe out neighborhoods, homes, churches (heaven forbid he would use this against a mosque)?

      You need to read up on history and dictators. Democide is the largest killer of people the world has ever known. The US and State Constitutions provide for a legal justice and murdering innocent people as this drone would do, violates this principle. In reality, this along with his gun grab are declarations of war against all Americans especially the ‘bitter clingers’.

      Just because you don’t agree with someone gives you no right to murder them and this is exactly what Imam Obama is planning. After all, we have a entire generation of Americans raised on video games who would think it is cool to shoot the car, the house, the person walking down the street, sort of like ‘whack a mole’.

      Imam Obama has been carefully selecting those in the military who would fire on American civilians ignoring while possee commatus as well. Supplying ‘tanks’ to local police forces aqnd arming the DHS with over a 2 billion rounds of ammunition? A coincidence?

      I Missouri Imam Obama’s DHS was caught installing equipment to allow the DHS access to all CCW licenses? Do you ever ask why? How many other states have quietly allowed this to happen?

      Your the person who the Imam loves: blind, dumb and ignorant, a low information person who thinks everything is just peachy. You are part of the problem.

      • Steve D. says:

        Oh please…spare me the high dudgeon. If it were a conservative president using a drone against an armed camp of jihadis or Aztlan insurgents in the Southwest, you’d cheer. Bad guys get taken out all the time without benefit of trial–Christopher Dorner, for instance. (I also don’t understand why anyone gets upset at the idea that the police deliberately burned down Dorner’s refuge…is it any different from deliberately putting 150 grains of metal in his head?)

        This conversation shouldn’t be about a weapon, but about the fitness of the man in the Oval Office to execute ANY policy whatsoever. I don’t think he’s fit to wield a drone or any other weapon in the name of the United States…but I also don’t think he’s fit to wield a teleprompter or an autopen. I certainly don’t think he’s fit to determine who is an enemy of the United States and who isn’t.

        But that doesn’t alter the question of whether or not a president has the authority in theory to give the go-ahead for the use of lethal force. There are always going to be a lot of variables, and there will be some times when citizenship status and location will be irrelevant.

    • Fu#kObama says:

      Steve:

      With your Poly-Annish theory then it is fine to propose a theory, and put in place the tools to carry out this theory, then what?

      Of course if any conservative proposed this they would also be just a guilty and cupable of treason as Imam Obama is.

      Killing terrorists in remote Afgan villages is a far cry from deploying military technology, throwing possee commatus under the bus and depriving American citizens of due process. I suppose in your Polly Anna world you support the NDAA and other facist like laws under the guise of being a theory.

      So please get with reality, Imam Obama has openly declared war on the ‘bitter clingers’, I suppose you support that therory too?

      Wake up Steve, your Harvard theory crap is just wearing thin. Like I said before, You are the problem.

      • Steve D. says:

        Almost every police force in this country now has “military technology” of one sort or another. Using that technology doesn’t violate Posse Comitatus. If Obama deployed actual military assets against targets in the United States, that’s one thing. He could only do so legally under circumstances of either war or insurrection, neither one of which is hopelessly unimaginable.

        But the military isn’t the only agency anymore with drone technology. Oops. There goes that loophole.

        We say all the time that a gun is just a tool. It can be used for good, or for evil. It’s the intent behind the use that is significant, and good people should not be punished for an evil person’s misuse of the tool. That’s the argument (one of them) against gun control.

        Well, a drone is just a tool, too. As for due process, try using that argument on a SWAT sniper the next time he has a clear shot at stopping a massacre.

    • Comrade X says:

      Either we are a country of law or of men!

      Methinks the question that each will have to ask one day soon will be who will you bleed for the man or the the law; our constitution.

      Our constitution gives powers to our president but not the power to take away the rights that GOD gave us and if he or any future president or government thinks they can denied those rights IMHO there will be blood and each and every one of us will get to decide which side our blood will flow for!

      Death before slavery!

    • Chuck says:

      Steve, you are either deliberately obtuse or you are just too blinded by your love of the power of the state to see what the issue is here. Few, if any are arguing that in exigent circumstances (like your SWAT sniper example) when life and death are in the balance that lethal force is justified. It’s the basic concept of self-defense or defense of others. No different than if I shoot an intruder kicking my door in at 3 a.m.

      That is NOT the issue here.

      The issue which you so blithely dismiss is whether the President and/or his henchmen to whom he has delegated this authority (according to the DOJ white paper) can order the execution of a US CITIZEN who is NOT an immediate threat, and/or is NOT currently engaged in hostile action against the US or US interests, AND is on US soil. Hence, Senator Cruz’s cafe scenario. This authority they appear to claim without the need for indictment, arrest warrants, charges, or trials. In short, they claim to need NO due process as required under the 5th Amendment to the US Constitution.

      The very fact that you wave off the supreme law of the land in your casual dismissal of the extreme threat this presents to the very core of our Republic makes it very clear that you are of the same statist ilk as Holder and his master.

      The only thing you got right is that this has nothing to do with drones, or rifles or JDAMs or any other means of execution.

      • Steve D. says:

        No person in his right mind–a subset of the population that includes me–believes that the president of the United States or anyone else has the right or authority to “order the execution of a US CITIZEN who is NOT an immediate threat, and/or is NOT currently engaged in hostile action against the US or US interests, AND is on US soil.” Nobody. In his right mind, that is.

        So why bother debating a non-possibility? The only question worth debating is this: is it ever justifiable to use a weaponized drone to take out a target within the borders of the United States? And my answer is “yes.” Not always, but possibly. As I’ve stated over and over, it depends upon the circumstances. Rational adults take circumstances into account.

        Too many panties are wadding up too tightly here. I appreciate that you neither like nor trust Obama–I hate the son of a bitch myself–but a wish to deny him the authority of the office he holds is counter-productive, since other people will hold that office long after he’s in Hell. According to the Constitution you and several others claim I’ve never read, the president “shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States…” That means that if Congress, which has the authority to “provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions,” happens to declare that a state of insurrection exists, the president is the sole authority to decide the appropriateness of drone strikes on U.S. soil, even against U.S. citizens.

        That’s not a likely scenario; but it’s possible, and easily enough imagined that the founders of this country took the trouble to account for it. So don’t try to pretend that this is some new and unique situation that represents a dire threat to the existence of the Republic.

        This whole issue became an issue only because of a drone strike against Anwar al-Awlaki, a terrorist who richly deserved to be vaporized but who happened to be an American citizen. My response to his status is “big deal.” If he had happened to be within the confines of the United States, he should have been arrested. As it was, he was safe from arrest in Yemen, but not from a drone. Scratch one bad guy. I’m not sorry it happened. If such a thing happened in the United States, though, I’d question (like everyone else) whether the use of force was proportionate; but even then, there are scenarios where I can imagine drone use being appropriate. For instance: if he is holed up in a hardened strong point, protected by wide fields of fire, in possession of heavy weapons, the use of a drone might very well put an end to the situation without costing the lives of either American servicemen or law enforcement officers. (And if it’s Posse Comitatus you’re worried about, consider that the military isn’t the sole owner of drones; and besides, there are probably perfectly legitimate legal gymnastics that would transfer operational control of a drone from the military to a civilian agency…so there goes that objection.)

        There is always, of course, the possibility of other factors that would render drone use illegitimate–for instance, if there were hostages present. To use Waco as an example: it wasn’t the mere use of armored vehicles and CS gas there that was the issue–since both armored vehicles and CS gas had been used many times before, without objection–but whether or not the use of such weapons was disproportionate in that situation. The Branch Davidians did not constitute an imminent danger to themselves or anyone else, and there were many people present who were completely innocent of any suspicion of wrongdoing. The force used was disproportionate in that instance. That doesn’t mean that the use of CS gas and armored vehicles is always and everywhere illegitimate. All I’m trying to explain is that there is functionally no difference between the use of a drone and the use of any other weapon: its legitimacy depends on the unique circumstances of the situation; and there are some imaginable circumstances in which drone use would be appropriate. Even for Obama, even as much as we both despise him.

        And I say that not because I’m naive, or because I’m in love with state power, or because I’m “Poly-Annish” [sic], or because I’m from Harvard, or even because I agree with Obama and Holder. They probably believe the border between legitimate authority and lawlessness is drawn many miles beyond where I would draw it. But that doesn’t alter the fact that there is a border, and on one side of it lies legitimate authority, and legitimate use.

        As for Cruz’ cafe scenario, which was silly, Holder (the traitorous bastard) answered it. “I do not think that would be an appropriate use of lethal force.” More wordy than what Cruz was after, but that still constitutes a “no.” So why in the world are we wasting so much time on this question? And why in the world did our “heroes” like Cruz and Paul cave in, and end the filibuster, when the important point was not getting the White House to “promise” not to use drones on Americans sitting in cafes, but to stop John Brennan from becoming CIA director? Does anyone honestly think this all ended in some sort of victory for us?

  4. styrgwillidar says:

    Extraordinary. You ever see the films of the guy in San Diego who stole a tank and took it for a joy ride?

    He did a lot of damage. Random damage, running over cars etc. It stopped because he ended up high-centering it on a concrete freeway divider and a police officer jumped on it, pulled open the hatch and shot him as he was trying to free the tank.

    Say he hadn’t high-centered it. How long do you let him tear through houses, neighborhoods etc? Since he stole the thing from the National Guard, would you think it permissible for the National Guard to get involved in stopping him- drone, another tank, rocket?

    • Chuck says:

      How is that in any way comparable to the same tank-driver sitting in his living room drinking a beer and a drone putting a Hellfire up his ass? That’s what we’re talking about here, not your idiotic example.

  5. Dann W says:

    A well thought out response to an almost unthinkable but increasingly likely senerio.

  6. Karl says:

    “in less than 100% obvious and justifiable circumstances”

    As determined not by law or courts but by Barack Obama … provided that Bob Owens agrees with the determination.

    For, say, treason? Sans charges, trial, evidence, CONSTITUTION, etc.

    For murder? Again, sans charges, trial, evidence, rights, etc..

    Or, maybe, only mass-murder? Sans charges, trial, evidence, rights, etc.
    Bombing? Sans charges, trial, evidence, rights, etc.
    Conspiracy? Sans charges, trial, evidence, rights, etc.
    Rape? Sans charges, trial, evidence, rights, etc.
    Jay-Walking?

    You either believe in and support the Rule of Law, or you don’t. Saying that the Executive Branch can make its own determinations on who to execute (that’s why it’s called the “executive” branch, isn’t it), so long as you, personally, like the determination … is counter to the Rule of Law. It’s counter to the U.S. Constitution and the principles upon which America was initially founded.

    It condones tyranny and sets a precedent which you will inevitably find yourself on the wrong side of.

    And, it’s fucking evil.

    This is true whether the American citizen is in New Jersey, or in Toronto, or even … Yemen.

    Just FYI.

    • Steve D. says:

      There are these things called “Rules of Engagement.” For instance, if a man, having killed several people already, is holed up in a house with his pistol at a child’s head, and the local SWAT team has a clear shot, the rules say to take it. You don’t wait for capture, indictment, trial, conviction, and several decades of appeal before shuffling his mortal coil off to Hell. And it’s been held to be legal.

      I can easily imagine circumstances under which it would be legitimate to call a drone strike against American citizens (the country is immaterial). That doesn’t mean I support Barack Obama, or am fine with the idea of him being the one making the decisions…only that making the decision to use lethal force isn’t always and necessarily “fucking evil.” It depends on the circumstance.

      • Chuck says:

        There is no such thing as “rules of engagement” for US forces in CONUS. We have “rules for the use of force” on US soil (because YES it DOES matter) and they are VERY strict and require an EXTREMELY high threshold before we can even consider using deadly force on civilians. To the point that generally when the National Guard is deployed domestically most, if not all, weapons are left at the Armories or are centrally controlled somewhere and are only to be issued in extreme circumstances.

        Once again, you are totally missing the point here.

        You should try reading the Constitution sometime, or at least the Bill of Rights. It might help your pathetic understanding of the legal issue being discussed here. You aren’t even in the same zip code.

  7. So when Obama’s successor withdraws his Secret Service protection and orders a drone strike…

  8. Comrade X says:

    Obama Pushing “Most Anti-Second Amendment Nominee” in Recent History

    Contact your U.S. Senators right away!

    http://gunowners.org/alert03042013b.htm?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed

    Death before slavery!

  9. Fear not gentle readers, the lapdog media will “prove” with “100% reliability” that any poor soul struck down by the regime will be a “terrorist”.

    ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ!!

  10. Real Deal says:

    So does that mean we can finally get a drone strike on Bill Ayers & Bernardine Dohrn?