On February 8th, I sounded the alarm regarding the killing of US citizens abroad who are believed by highly-placed officials to be a threat to our national security. As I stated then, the United States Justice Department had recently explained in great detail “to a court and to the entire world why it can kill you, why it can do it secretly, and why it needs no oversight or court approval to do so” as long as you were overseas. In the same article I wondered how long it would be before our government turned drones against us within the borders of our own country.
Soon after, reports began to emerge that drones may have been used in surveillance against fugitive Christopher Dorner. According to medical examiners, he died on February 12th in a cabin located in Angelus Oaks, California, where he had taken refuge. There was no evidence that drones were used in a strike against Dorner. But there was still the nagging question of whether government officials might claim the right to use an armed drone in a strike against a citizen on US soil.
As far as the federal government is concerned, that is no longer a question. No matter where you may stand on the political issues of the day, you need to take notice.
In a letter to Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), the highest law-enforcement official in the country has declared that the president may authorize the use of unmanned drones to target and kill a US citizen at home in an “extraordinary circumstance” such September 11, 2001. Attorney General Eric Holder communicated this message to Sen. Paul after the senator threatened to block the administration’s appointee to head the CIA, John Brennan.
In response, Rand Paul took to the floor of the Senate to exercise a time-honored tradition reminiscent of the 1939 movie, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington: he waged a one-man filibuster for more than thirteen hours. In other words he continued to speak for that entire time and did not yield the floor. As reported by The Washington Times, this effectively stifled Brennan’s nomination for the moment.
Yesterday, while appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Holder faced questions about the drone program and its possible use against American citizens on US soil. At one point he stated that he doubted whether Congress had the authority to prevent the president from killing citizens at home. He was probably right about that. It’s not the job of Congress. Prohibitions with that regard are laid out clearly in the US Constitution. Simply put, there are some things the government cannot do. Period.
Frustration with the Justice Department has been expressed by senators of both major parties. Whether that will turn into courageous action–even more than a filibuster–remains to be seen. These days the Constitution is nothing more than a bump in the road for our political leaders–too many of whom will do whatever they damned well please with little or no regard to constitutional limits.
Is it any wonder that a new round of gun-control measures is flooding Congress these days? In the face of domestic warfare waged by a president against his own citizens, an unarmed, compliant citizenry will have much less a chance of effecting any type of resistance. Such a scenario as we now see in our nation’s capital is the very reason why the Constitution maintains the right to bear arms. As always in human history, an armed citizen is one with political options.
Honestly, this is one citizen who is now more afraid of his government than any terrorist.