Obama Expands His Power to Kill While Reducing Our Capacity to Defend Ourselves

He wants to use the force of legislation to weaken your right to self-defense.

Does the government work for us, or do we work for the government? How can the president claim the lawful power to kill whomever he wishes and at the same time ask Congress to incapacitate our ability to defend ourselves against those who might seek to kill us?

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul struck a raw nerve in the weak underbelly of the Obama administration last month with his 13-hour filibuster. Paul was furious—as every American should be—that the president refused to admit that he does not possess the lawful authority to kill Americans with drones. The senator used the confirmation hearings of now CIA Director John Brennan as a forum in which to articulate the principled constitutional argument that whenever the government wants the life, liberty or property of anyone, it can only obtain that via due process.

Due process is the command of the Fifth Amendment. "Due process" is the jurisprudential phrase for a fair jury trial and the accompanying constitutional protections. The reasons we have these protections are the wish of the Framers that our natural rights—here, the rights to life, liberty and property and to fairness from the government—be guaranteed and their fear that they not suffer under another Star Chamber. Star Chamber was a secret gaggle of advisers to British kings that decided who among the king's adversaries would lose his life, liberty or property without due process. Once that decision was made, it was carried out.

Paul articulated all of this during his filibuster. He did not read gibberish, as those who have filibustered in the past sometimes have done. He made principled moral and legal arguments for 13 hours. His arguments read like a passionate college lecture on personal liberty in a free society.

The next day, Attorney General Eric Holder sent a terse letter to Paul that reads in its entirety as follows: "It has come to my attention that you have now asked an additional question: 'Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?' The answer to that question is no." This is an unremarkable statement, but one that only came about after the senatorial equivalent of pulling teeth.

Paul's filibuster was prompted by the administration's repeated refusal to answer that question. Those refusals came from the testimony of Holder, FBI Director Robert Mueller and then CIA Director-nominee Brennan. They all declined to answer the question of whether the president has the power to use drones to kill Americans in America, and they all referred the questioners to their boss in the White House.

Their boss in the White House has never publicly answered that question, but he has exercised that horrific power without publicly defending or legally justifying it. When lawyers for potential victims of presidential killings (how terrifying does that sound?) sought to ascertain the source of that power, the president dispatched Justice Department lawyers into court to persuade judges that the legal argument supporting killings is classified. That's because, those Justice Department lawyers argued, the decisions to kill—just like Star Chamber's decisions to kill—are made in secret; hence, the legal support for the killings must be kept secret.

How could a legal argument be classified? How could a judge accept that sophistry? How could a president sworn to uphold the Constitution claim the power to kill people on his own?

As if to antagonize further those who believe the Constitution means what it says, the same president who says he can't reveal the legal basis for his killing wants to take away your right to self-defense against a killer, and he wants to prevent you from having the means with which to shoot at a tyrant should such a monster take over the government.

The reason we are a free and independent people today is our secession from Great Britain, and that secession only came about because we had the means with which to repel the soldiers of the British king. Without weaponry in the hands of ordinary folks and unknown to the government (so it doesn't know from whom to seize weapons), we will lack the ability to repel a modern-day George III.

So, today we have a president who has sworn to uphold the Constitution but seems hell-bent on violating it. He wants to use the force of legislation to weaken your right to self-defense, and he is already using powers never granted to him to kill uncharged, unindicted Americans whom his advisers in secret have decided must go.

The government derives its powers from the consent of the governed. Do you know anyone who consented to this? If you do, they consented for themselves. The rest of us will keep our lives, liberty and property and defy any government efforts to take them.

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  • Mensan||

    It seems 65.9 million people consented to it, and, as everyone knows, 20% of the population is a majority in our "democracy".

  • John Galt||

    Once Americans had been led to believe we live in a "democracy" rather than a constitutional republic which protects it's citizens from tyrannies of the majority, as well those of a minority, we were guaranteed to fail.

  • Mensan||

    When I took Intro to Political Science in college (to fulfill a social sciences requirement) the first day of class the instructor asked what form of government we have. A bunch of hands went up, and the first girl who answered said a democracy. The teacher asked the class for a show of hands of who agreed that it was a democracy. Almost every hand (about 50 people) was raised. He then asked if anybody had any other ideas at which time I stated that it was a constitutional republic. Once again he called for a show of hands, and only one other guy besides me raised a hand.

    Anecdotal, yes, but I believe a large majority already believe we live in a democracy. I don't know how much that matters though, because most of them don't even know meaning of the words democracy or republic.

  • mgd||

    So since almost everyone in your class voted that our form of government is a democracy, I assume the instructor proceeded to teach accordingly. After all, the majority had spoken.

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  • sasob||

    Once Americans had been led to believe we live in a "democracy" rather than a constitutional republic which protects it's citizens from tyrannies of the majority, as well those of a minority, we were guaranteed to fail.

    I think much of this is due to the education establishment. I attended public elementary schools in the 50's (yeah, I'm old as dirt,) and even back then the idea that we live in a democracy was hammered into our heads continuously by our teachers. Seems like the way to settle any question was to take a vote on it. First day of each school year the first thing we did was to vote on who was going to be class president, etc. Of course, we were never allowed to vote on anything important.

  • Loki||

    Not only that, it's a "mandate".

  • John Galt||

    As if to antagonize further those who believe the Constitution means what it says, the same president who says he can't reveal the legal basis for his killing wants to take away your right to self-defense against a killer, and he wants to prevent you from having the means with which to shoot at a tyrant should such a monster take over the government.

    None of this is relevant since our present day rulers have determined themselves, and all who follow them, to be fully righteous, while we the ignorant and unclean masses lack the knowledge and enlightenment to ever know right or in our own best interests.

    In other words: Lay down and shut-up!

  • Christina||

    How can the president claim the lawful power to kill whomever he wishes and at the same time ask Congress to incapacitate our ability to defend ourselves against those who might seek to kill us?

    All together now...Because FUCK YOU, that's why!

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  • sasob||

    The government derives its powers from the consent of the governed. Do you know anyone who consented to this?

    I have an additional question: Does anyone know anyone who was asked for consent?

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  • buybuydandavis||

    "How can the president claim the lawful power to kill whomever he wishes and at the same time ask Congress to incapacitate our ability to defend ourselves against those who might seek to kill us?"

    Laws are for peasants, not for their rulers.

  • Wind Rider||

    Actually, this should make things very simple. Either Skippy can come up with the paper trail and tap dance about how he isn't exceeding (and abusing) his authority on a massive scale, or he can come up with that homework assignment when asked politely in the form of articles of impeachment from the House, and then state his case during the following trial in the Senate.

    Or did I skip or miss something from the rules/playbook?

  • Jose Chung||

    "How can the president claim the lawful power to kill whomever he wishes and at the same time ask Congress to incapacitate our ability to defend ourselves against those who might seek to kill us?"

    Because our ability to defend ourselves against those that seek to kill us interferes with his desire to kill whomever he wants whenever he wants, duh. I mean he can't have some innocent jack-booted government thug gunned down by a rabid law-abiding citizen defending themselves, now can he?

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  • Paul R.||

    Quoted from above:
    " The next day, Attorney General Eric Holder sent a terse letter to Paul that reads in its entirety as follows: "It has come to my attention that you have now asked an additional question: 'Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?' The answer to that question is no." This is an unremarkable statement, but one that only came about after the senatorial equivalent of pulling teeth. "

    If you have an American education beyond the... I don't know... 8th grade... you should be able answer to the Republican Senator's question on your own. All things considered, it was a dumb question...

    Senator Rand Paul is invoking fear to put distance between the American people and its Government. It's a strategic move to dissociate Government from its responsibilities to its citizens/people.

    Tune in next week for the next 2nd grade question from Republican Senator Rand Paul...

  • Paul R.||

    Typo Correction: "... you should be able to answer the ..."

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  • ||

    Actually, if the President CAN use drones to execute non-combatants outside of a battlefield without due process of law, then almost anyone can.

    Why? Because the President, as a government official, is bound by the constitution and federal statutes in ways that private citizens are not.

    18USC242 makes it a crime, punishable by life without parole or execution to cause a death while using official authority under color of law to violate anyone's constitutional, civil or statutory rights. 18USC241 is conspiracy to violate rights and carries similar penalties as 242 does.

    The constitutional rights to due process are exactly the sort of rights that an extra-judicial execution violates. The President simply cannot do it, and anyone employed by the US government who carries out such an illegal order has also committed a crime punishable by life in prison without parole or execution. The Bill of Rights amendments don't specify that only citizens have these rights.

    This ignores the fact that premeditated murder is also a federal crime.

    A private citizen on the other hand is not capable of committing a violation of 18USC241 or 242. It's illegal for a private citizen to commit murder, true...but it's also illegal for a President to do so.

    If the President commits no crimes in assassinating someone with a drone, then neither would a private citizen.

  • PACW||

    ". . . a crime, punishable by life without parole. . . "

    Yes, wave candy in front of us starving children.

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