White House to Rand Paul: ‘The Answer is No.’ Rand Accepts.

John Glaser, March 07, 2013

From The Washington Examiner:

CarneyAttorney General Eric Holder wrote Sen. Rand Paul,R-Ky., to confirm that President Obama does not have the authority to kill an American on U.S. soil in a non-combat situation, Obama’s spokesman announced today.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney quoted from the letter that Holder sent to Paul today. “Does the president have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on an American soil?” Holder wrote, per Carney. “The answer is no.”

Here is the complete text of Holder’s letter. This news comes hours after Senators McCain and Graham scolded Rand Paul and his efforts on the Senate floor last night, with Graham saying Rand’s question about Obama’s authority to kill US citizens is “offensive” and doesn’t “deserve an answer.”

As Brian Doherty at Reason’s Hit & Run points out, this “answer” is not good enough. “But who is a noncombatant?” Doherty asks. “What constitutes engaging in hostile activities to the White House?”

It’s a good question, considering Obama’s use of “signature strikes” in which individuals whose identities are not specifically known and have not been shown to be actively engaged in an ongoing plot or attack can be drone bombed.

Finally, it’s worth asking who the government considers a legitimate domestic target. Current domestic counter-terrorism efforts, like the Department of Homeland Security’s “fusion centers,” have targeted for surveillance Americans entirely uninvolved with terrorism.

A Senate investigation last year found that “when fusion centers did address terrorism,” which was rare, “they sometimes did so in ways that infringed on civil liberties,” the AP reported. “The centers have made headlines for circulating information about Ron Paul supporters, the ACLU, activists on both sides of the abortion debate, war protesters and advocates of gun rights.”

Some of these intelligence centers even investigated Muslim-American community groups and their book recommendations. No evidence of criminal activity was ever found, but the government did store the information, which it is prohibited from doing for First Amendment activities.

Update: Despite the lingering concerns that I mentioned above, Rand Paul has responded positively to the administration’s answer. TPM reports:

Appearing on CNN on Thursday afternoon, Paul declared that Holder’s response was satisfactory and that he would allow a vote on Brennan’s nomination.

“I’m quite happy with the answer and I’m disappointed it took a month and a half and a root canal to get it,” Paul said.

Update II: The Senate has voted to confirm Brennan as CIA Director, by a 63-34 vote. Rand Paul voted no.




13 Responses to “White House to Rand Paul: ‘The Answer is No.’ Rand Accepts.”

  1. "Cannot kill in a non combat situation". But what defines someone as a combatant? Anwar Al Awaki's 16 year old son and his 16 year old friend were noncombatants. All Mr. Nobel Peace Prize, Constitutional Law Professor, has to do is to declare you an enemy comabatant, without disclosing any definition as to what that means, or present any evidence to support it. Gee, I feel better. How about you?
    Obama is a tyrant. There is no getting around it.

  2. while i really don't like rand and i assumed this filibuster was just a publicity stunt,
    an empty gesture is still better than none at all.

  3. I am expecting one of them to say, if not expressly, "We are all tyrants now."

  4. yes, rand paul has no problems in bombing brown Muslim people with drones overseas.

  5. Depends on what the meaning of 'No' is. Come to think of it, it depends on what the meaning of 'is' is.

  6. How about other human being.., are they considered humans.., even if we reason the fact that "all mans are born equal or made equal" then why us government is killing other nationals without prosecuting them first.., or even being able to prove that they deserve such time and technology to be killed. LAN White House answer that…?

  7. Well, it is good to hear the President does not have the authority to kill Americans on American soil.
    But then why would he have the authority to kill Americans on foreign soil?
    Or then why should he have the authority to kill anybody on any soil?
    Such absolute authority goes against all civil and moral rule.
    What ever happened to check and balances?
    He touts he killed bin Laden.
    Yet in truth that was nothing, but cold blooded murder.
    We the people did not want bin Laden killed. We wanted him to be brought to justice.

  8. If ObL was captured and brought in for a trial, we would have been faced with the same situation that made Saddam Hussein's death necessary: he knew too much and would most certainly aired every bit of the US' dirty laundry right there for the world to see, and of course that cannot be allowed to happen. Had Hussein's trial gone much further, no doubt he would have talked all about how we helped him get in power, how we supplied him with the chemical weapons to use against Iran, and any number of other deals and side operations we'd rather not be made public. ObL knew all of these things from his own experiences with us, and no doubt his testimony on the origins of the 9/11 attacks would have proved to be most enlightening- and damned to the US government. Can't have that, though, so he had be disposed of. The American public might have wanted justice, but you can take it to the bank that was the LAST thing the US government wanted.

  9. Borat Obomber is a joke created by us academia and then embellished with a nonsensical nobel

    the non-combatant excuse just repeats this hypocrisy. Glaser summary is spot on for so many routine contradictions. Lets hope Rand Paul will return to this issue

  10. [...] White House to Rand Paul: ‘The Answer is No.’ Rand Accepts. [...]

  11. But what defines someone as a combatant?

    Exactly, which is why Holder's response is ultimately meaningless. These vermin have conferred upon themselves the "authoritah," backed by raw force, to do anything they damned well please, to anybody, anywhere. Equally and ultimately meaningless, I'm forced to conclude, is Rand Paul's filibuster if he was unwilling to press Holder on the point in question here, something that common sense would have dictated.

    To put it bluntly to Rand: one brave act does NOT an ocean of sins wash away, nor does it restore trust in you. Until you continue down the path you've started paving, there's no reason for any of us to believe that you're anything other than the rank opportunist you've proved yourself to be, almost without exception, since you first campaigned for your office.

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