Rand Paul got the major media talking for almost the first time, about the government’s ability to kill U.S. citizens, without trial, even when they’re not posing an imminent threat, on U.S. soil. Also, more broadly, about our government using drones to execute people. Much of Paul’s arguments last night involved the need for constraints on power, even constraints on the majority. He often hinted towards the Ronald Reagan line that a government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to kill you while sitting at cafe.
The only check on an executive armed with flying death robots is the separation of powers and an understanding of the Constitution as a limit on government power. This has implications beyond counter-terrorism and war.
• Paul exposed the craven partisanship of the Democrats. Democrats refused to allow Paul a vote on a non-binding resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that government can’t kill U.S. citizens on U.S. soil, while those citizens pose no imminent threat. There’s no way this course of action jibes with the dems party’s stated principles. The most likely explanation is that they didn’t want a vote.
Obama Administration Says President Can Use Lethal Force Against Americans on US Soil
President Obama refused to say directly if he had the authority to use lethal force against US citizens. As Mother Jones reported at the time, the reason the president was being so coy is that the answer was likely yes. Now we know that’s exactly what was happening.
So why didn’t Obama just say, “no, the president cannot deploy drone strikes against US citizens on American soil”? Because the answer is probably “yes.”
The Obama administration will allow certain members of Congress to see the targeted-killing memos. But what about the public?
“The president.” his actions in a variety of ways suggest that he doesn’t think the president shares his fellow citizens’ ongoing obligation to obey the law. To the contrary, he seems to view the presidency as being above the law.
The latest example involves Obama’s legal obligation to submit a budget by the first Monday in February. We’ve now passed the first Monday in March, yet there’s no indication that Obama intends to submit a budget anytime soon.