So, news of Rand Paul’s filibuster has been seeping into my consciousness. What I’ve heard is that he is conducting a real filibuster – all talk, all the time. Good on that. I’ve also heard that he’s protesting that the Obama administration is claiming the authority to kill citizens. OMFG! But, I actually clicked through to Holder’s letter to Paul which said:
On February 20, 2013, you wrote John Brennan requesting additional information concerning the administration’s view about whether the President has the power to authorize lethal force such as a drone strike against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil without trial.
As members of this Administration have previously indicated, the U.S. government has not carried out drone strikes in the United States and has no intention of doing so. As a policy matter, moreover, we reject the use of military force where well-established law enforcement authorities in this country provide the best means for incapacitating a terrorist threat. We have a long history of using the criminal justice system to incapacitate individuals located in our country who pose a threat to the United States and its interests abroad. Hundreds of individuals have been arrested and convicted of terrorism-related offenses in our federal courts.
“The question you have posed is therefore entirely hypothetical, unlikely to occur, and one we hope no President will ever have to confront. It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States. For example, the President could conceivably have no choice but to authorize the military to use such force if necessary to protect the homeland in the circumstances of a catastrophic attack like the ones suffered on December 7, 1941, and September 11, 2001.
Were such an emergency to arise, I would examine the particular facts and circumstances before advising the President on the scope of his authority.
That’s the response that has him all worked up over an out of control government?
I’m all for Congress imposing more structural restraints on the war powers of the executive branch; for beefing up the due process rights of U.S. citizens; and improving the transparency of the federal government. Close Guantanamo, get rid of the mass wiretapping by the NSA, repeal the USA PATRIOT act. Legislate against existing, real world abuses.
But I’m baffled by a mindset that sees that mild response to a hypothetical scenario as a sign of impending tyranny when other, more routine abuses, actually exist and could stand legislative attention.