Demonstrating that the Federal Government will reward people who rationalize its practice of cold-blooded murder, one of those regime court prophets is about to receive judicial power and a tax-fed income guarantee.
In a 52-43 vote, the Senate today gave preliminary approval to David Barron, author of the notorious Barron Memo, getting a seat in the 1st US Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Barron Memo is a highly secret memo frequently cited by the Obama Administration as a legal justification for the president using drones to assassinate American citizens without trial. The memo remains classified, despite court orders to release it, and while the Justice Department has eventually promised a redacted version would be made public, there is no timeline for actually doing so.
The vote was overwhelmingly along party lines, with only Sens. Mary Landrieu (D – LA) and Joe Manchin (D – WV) opposing it. Sen. Rand Paul (R – KY) had previously threatened to hold up the nomination, and promised to vote against him, saying he cannot support anyone who “believes it’s OK to kill an American citizen not involved in combat without a trial.”
I love Rand Paul’s leadership but note that the entire Republican Party opposed him. Nevertheless, because Paul filibustered, Washington Post’s neo-con mouthpiece, Jennifer Rubin, singled him out: “Rand Paul’s dangerous drone demagoguery.”
And as I’m reading the column, in the middle of the piece, I suddenly find myself wondering, “Is Rubin saying the U.S. ruling regime should send death squads to kill American citizens in the U.S.?”
This fear came to me as I read her quoting from the Daily Beast:
The problem Barron addressed is anything but theoretical. The Daily Beast’s Eli Lake reports:
“Western intelligence services have been warning that European and American jihadists have been flocking to Syria to fight. But they’ve been reluctant to say how many Americans have joined the extremist forces there—until now. The latest U.S. intelligence estimates say that more than 100 Americans have joined the jihad in Syria to fight alongside Sunni terrorists there.
“Senior American intelligence officials tell The Daily Beast that they believe between six and 12 Americans who have gone to Syria to fight Assad have now returned to America. ‘We know where some are,’ one senior U.S. intelligence official told The Daily Beast. ‘The concern is the scale of the problem we are dealing with.’”
So these returned terrorists should be assassinated, right? Didn’t Rubin just commend Barron’s decision-making?
Barron concluded, as nearly every mainstream jurist and legal scholar has, that the United States has every right to wage war against those taking up arms against the country, including Americans who have joined up with jihadis overseas.
But nothing in that argument excludes Americans “who have joined with jihadis” who live in your neighborhood, right? Forget the investigation. Forget about due process. Forget about proving any such accusations in a court of law. Just send a drone blow them up when they are sleeping in their beds at night.
If collateral damage is an unacceptable risk in the United States (for now) then send in a hit team.
Our regime can deny they are doing this, yet. But it is undeniable that they have set up the legal groundwork for de-constitutionalizing the entire nation. It is simply a matter of finding the right moment to begin the practice.
Rubin takes us into this dystopian killer’s playground and then pretends she hasn’t put us there:
Consider if we could identify the Americans Lake refers to and had reason to believe they would continue their jihad outside of Syria, returning to kill Americans here at home. We have no troops in Syria, but we have the capacity to use drones to take these people out. What responsible American politician of either party would not do so? There is no constitutional or moral principle that requires us to wait for them to return to the United States, betting we’ll catch up to them and have the chance to foil their plots. Indeed, if a U.S. president had the opportunity and refused to do so, the American people and Congress would be rightfully enraged.
Oh. So reminding us that we (allegedly) have American citizens back from Syria in our own country was not supposed to be an argument for murdering them extra-judicially here. No, it was a reason to send drones after them (and any man, woman, or child within the blast radius of a hellfire missile) while they were still in Syria.
But there is no real reason present at all in Rubin’s argument. She is simply arbitrarily limiting the practice of killing American citizens without trial on the assumption that using drones overseas is palatable while using SWAT teams in Minnesota is not yet palatable.
And throughout the entire piece is the surreal irony that the only reason that Syria has become an al Qaeda recruitment zone is because the United States government made it into one. For all we know, some of those people in Syria are deep cover agents for one Federal agency being tracked as terrorists by another agency.
So to read Rubin admit the entire failure of U.S. policy as a reason to pursue more of the same is enraging:
While some on the far right and left think that the greatest danger to Americans comes from data collection by the National Security Agency, the most knowledgeable people (e.g. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, and FBI Director James Comey) confirm that the threats from al-Qaeda have “metastasized.” In a New York Times interview, Comey recently confessed, “I didn’t have anywhere near the appreciation I got after I came into this job just how virulent those affiliates had become. There are both many more than I appreciated, and they are stronger than I appreciated.” The Times reported, “Based on what he now knows, Mr. Comey said, he is convinced that terrorism should remain the main focus of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
So, at best, two wars and the resulting reduction of Constitutional protections have utterly failed to accomplish any reduction in anti-American terrorism. But the reality is far worse. We turned Iraq into an Al Qaeda terrorist haven. We made Libya into an Al Qaeda recruitment playground where our own Ambassador and others got murdered by our own allies in the overthrow and killing of Gaddafi. Now we are making half of Syria the same and pretending that we are moral superheroes to oppose Bashar al Assad.
Then, to deal with all the chaos and bloody blowback from our sociopathic overseas murder sprees (the only reasonable description of at least Libya and Syria), we are also supposed to accept new moves to assassinate American citizens without due process. The Federal government gets to make war on people in other countries and on our own constitution in the same act. No wonder politicians love “the war on terror.”