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« MTV Congressman Gets Aggressive With Bernanke | Main | Brennan Takes CIA Oath On Constitution -- WITHOUT Bill Of Rights »

Carney: 'The Answer Is No'

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The question everyone needs to be asking now is: How do they define "Combat". Combat could mean Cyber, Protesting, or any other broad White House interpretation.
Mar 8, 2013 at 5:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin K

Exactly. That's why I put this link first in the list.

Mar 8, 2013 at 6:05 PM | Registered CommenterDailyBail
A totally unsatisfactory response from the White House. The Constitution explicitly proscribes "bills of attainder" (in essence, proscription lists). Congress cannot pass "bills or attainder", or authorize the President to implement his own "bills of attainder", as "Commander in Chief" or otherwise. There can be no doubt about this. See my commentary "Death Squads" on newswithviews,com, published in 2010. Attorney General Holder's opinion is nothing more than legalistic mumbo jumbo. See my commentary "Where is the outrage?" on newswithviews.com, published in 2012. The doyens of the press corps are simply rolling over for the Administration, either because they are incompetent to formulate the right questions, or because they are intent upon whitewashing the whole matter.
Mar 8, 2013 at 8:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterEdwin Vieira, Jr.
Eric Holder's letter to Rand Paul--all two sentences of it--sets forth a blatant and very telling lie about the filibuster. He writes: "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."

Actually, Rand Paul NEVER raised that question. Holder's attribution of it to Sen. Paul is false. In fact, Senator Paul didn't raise any question remotely close to the one that Holder purports to answer. As an initial matter, it's unclear why Holder invents the word "weaponized" when it doesn't appear ANYWHERE in the entire transcript of the filibuster, which ran for 13 hours:


But now that Mr. Holder has opened the door on filibuster issues, it's worth considering several of the many questions that were not answered by the Attorney General despite the fact that these questions were in fact put to the Administration. Given Mr. Holder's haste to answer "no" to a narrow question that was never asked, the strong presumption should be that the Obama Administration's answer to every one of the following questions is "yes":

1. Should an American "be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court"?

2. "[I]f there's no limitation to whom you can kill and where you can kill and there's no due process upon whom you will kill, does that mean you will do it in America?”

3. "The Fifth Amendment protects you, it protects from you a king placing you in the tower, but it also should protect from you a President that might kill you with a drone." Is such 5th amendment protection inapplicable?

4. “[W]e do know the U.S. drones are targeting people [in Yemen] who have never pledged to carry out attacks in the United States, so we're talking about noncombatants who have never pledged to carry out attacks are being attacked overseas.” Are American noncombatants who are known to have never pledged to carry out attacks subject to drone strikes?

5. “So when we asked the President, can you kill Americans on American soil with your drone strikes, which is part of the military, it should be an easy answer. In fact, I hope someone's calling him now and asking him for an answer.” Can Obama kill Americans on American soil with drone strikes?

6. “[T]he drone strike program is often not about combatants. It is about people who may or may not be conspiring but they're not in combat.” Are American noncombatants subject to drone strikes?

7. “The President should unequivocally come forward and state that noncombatants, people not involved with lethal force, will not have drones dropped on them.” Are Americans who aren't involved with lethal force subject to drone strikes?

These actual questions are quite a bit broader than the vague and tailored phantom question that Eric Holder answered "no." Why didn't Holder answer these real questions if his answer to every one of them wasn't "yes"?

Eric Holder's silence on the real issues breathes new meaning into the word deafening.
Mar 8, 2013 at 11:06 PM | Registered CommenterCheyenne
Cheyenne, part of your answer resides in the fact that Eric Holder is a Grade-A asshole. Moreover, he likes to fancy himself as someone with authority ("Respect my authoritah!). Only a supreme asshole, however evil or incompetent (open question), would respond to a 13-hour filibuster covered on national and international television with the phrase "It has come to my attention..." People with authoritah DESPISE being held accountable. They DESPISE having to answer decent, honest questions.

I mean, your main point still stands -- that Holder's response purposely addresses an overly narrow question that wasn't even asked. But for Holder, it's still all about status and gamesmanship within the D.C. bubble. He has no idea what kind of outrage is simmering beneath the surface in this country.
Mar 9, 2013 at 12:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterDr. Pitchfork
Dr. Pitchfork--

Never mistake the antics for the action. The situation is a bit more serious than mere assholery...

There is a particular aroma about the whole filibuster business that has bothered me from the outset. This entire circus of horribles, from the ringleader Rand Paul to the dancing elephant Eric Holder, has been behaving in a most suspicious way throughout their performance. I now think I know what tune they were dancing to…

While compiling the list of 7 questions above from the transcript of the filibuster, I kept wondering why on earth the Attorney General of the United States would leave them all unanswered until the unmistakable fingerprints of Very Sneaky Psychopath Lawyers wrapped around my throat.

Even if I’m off a bit, I think the odds that we’ve heard the last of L’affaire Filibuster are about as miniscule as never witnessing a drone killing on U.S. soil for the rest of our lives.

It displeases greatly to introduce… Rand Paul and the Trojan Drone.

To begin: following the events of the last year, Rand’s appearance anywhere should instantly invite one question before all others: since Paul the Younger proved his willingness to betray his own father, does it not follow that there’s no one that the senator won’t stab in the back? And if a knife is good, isn’t a drone even better?

At a minimum, that Mr. Parricide himself would materialize out of nowhere to champion civil liberties (of all things) for 13 straight hours should invite at least a modicum of inquisitiveness, no?

And while we’re at it, what was up with that maladroit letter from Eric Holder answering a question that was never posed? There were enough weasel words in the space of only a paragraph to set off an avalanche of blogosphere poo-poo, which is exactly what happened.

As is all too often the case with Obushma treachery, the mini-eruption over the letter was not some accident. It camouflaged, cleverly and successfully it appears, the hearing—and specifically the hearing transcript—that provoked it. Eric Holder’s simple letter was the Trojan Drone inside of which a raft of fundamental issues of constitutional law passed unremarked in the bright light of day.

By answering the narrow (and pretend) filibuster question “no,” Holder implicitly answered the rest of them “yes.” And the Senate raised not a peep in protest. On the contrary, Holder’s letter allayed all concerns, including those of Mr. Have-A-Drone-Dad himself, Senator Rand Paul:

“Paul said Thursday afternoon that he’s happy with the response and that he urges the Senate to proceed to a vote on Brennan’s nomination.”

“’I’m quite happy with the answer,’ Paul said. ‘Through the advise and consent process, I’ve got an important answer.’”


And with that, the Senate confirmed the very architect of Obama’s drone policies, Mr. John Brennan.

Drone killings are now headed for America, whether you like it or not. When someone like Chris Hedges files a lawsuit challenging them, guess what argument you’re gonna see the DOJ advance first? You guessed it: Congress already signed off on drone killings in the U.S., as prescribed jointly by the Senate and the Administration, and the court can’t disagree without violating the constitutional Separation of Powers doctrine. (The dark irony of the criminal elite is one of its calling cards.)

Obama’s lawyers will point to the transcript—replete with constitutional questions expressly discussed by the Senate and answered to its full satisfaction by the Administration—which was so conveniently supplied by Rand Paul… well, droning on for 13 hours.

I wonder what other tasks Rand Paul will execute for the elite in order to get his name on the 2016 presidential ticket?
Mar 9, 2013 at 11:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterCheyenne
“’I’m quite happy with the answer,’ Paul said. ‘Through the advise and consent process, I’ve got an important answer.’”


That response changed a few hours later.


Sen. Rand Paul: My filibuster was just the beginning

The Senate has the power to restrain the executive branch — and my filibuster was the beginning of the fight to restore a healthy balance of powers. The president still needs to definitively say that the United States will not kill American noncombatants. The Constitution’s Fifth Amendment applies to all Americans; there are no exceptions.

On Thursday, the White House produced another letter explaining its position on drone strikes. But the administration took too long, and parsed too many words and phrases, to instill confidence in its willingness or ability to protect our liberty.
Mar 9, 2013 at 11:44 AM | Registered CommenterDailyBail
So after first saying he was satisfied by Holder's response, he changed his mind the following day. The link I posted sounds like a coronation. It's kind of difficult to read through all the patting on the back Paul engages in. He's overtly proud of himself and sees it as his ticket to 2016. He's smug, which doesn't come across well. Overall, I'm happy that he stood up against Obama, Holder and Brennan, but his motives seem more political than anything else.
Mar 9, 2013 at 11:50 AM | Registered CommenterDailyBail
Legally, the confirmation record closed when Brennan was confirmed. Anything Rand Paul says beyond that point carries no legal weight whatsoever. It's only the give-and-take between the Senate and the Administration that a court will look at. Once the vote was final, all statements by senators have the legal authority of a Harlequin romance novel. It's good for the cameras, perhaps, but in legal terminology it's total bullshit.

Obama pulls exactly the same move. He'll sign off on legislation, which closes its legislative history. But then he'll purport to offer his interpretation: that completely unconstitutional piece of legislation I just signed is benign. The media swallows this shit whole even though it's as meaningless as a want ad.

Birds of a feather...
Mar 9, 2013 at 12:20 PM | Registered CommenterCheyenne
Cheyenne, you might be right about what could happen in the future in terms of legal arguments based on Brennan's confirmation (don't give them any ideas!), but if you think that Obama and/or Holder helped concoct the whole filibuster cum charade, I think you're giving them WAY too much credit. Geniuses they ain't. Crafty, scheming, full of crap -- sure, but not evil-mastermind-level geniuses.

Just using Occam's Razor, why go through the charade in the first place? Before Rand Paul, it never occurred to anyone in Stuporville, USA that assassinating Americans by royal fiat was remotely controversial. Rand Paul (and Fox News's coverage) have changed that. That's all to the good. TPTB are often stupid, often make mistakes and aren't nearly as omnipotent as we sometimes imagine. Some day I'll tell you all about a local example of this phenomenon that I experienced personally last year.
Mar 9, 2013 at 1:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterDr. Pitchfork
The only credit I extend is to Holder and Obama's handlers, the same people who are firmly in control of Senator flip-flop.

Drone killings within our borders are Obama's next beachhead in his war on the constitution and the American people. This Administration is more aggressive than a virulent cancer in that regard, as the NDAA has shown. When Obama starts the drone killings, he'll be challenged in federal court. Obama doesn't have any control over that. When that lawsuit arrives, the DOJ will defend it, and will do so based on the argument that Rand Paul has provided.

That is the reason to go through the charade. Without the filibuster, there is no legal argument that the Senate ratified drone killings. Thanks to Rand, there now is. Specifically, the Senate heard every one of the 7 questions raised above, and was satisfied with Holder's response to all of them. The Senate has effectively waived any objections.

This issue here is legal, not political. Nowhere in the foregoing dynamic does the public's opinion factor in even once. Obama doesn't care, and Obama's handlers don't care. If they did, the DOJ would have prosecuted a banker by now. They have not.

So while it's great that this might open people's eyes a bit, Obama will simply flush them down the toilet and leave the media to make a carnival out of it all while he plans his next legal assault.
Mar 9, 2013 at 3:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterCheyenne
Wha? And who are Obama's handlers? You seem to be implying some secret puppet-masters behind the curtain or something. Don't take this for abstract and absolute incredulity. I'm just curious who you have in mind.
Mar 9, 2013 at 3:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterDr. Pitchfork
Tim Geithner was one. He made no bones about bitch-slapping Obama's face in public over Citigroup. There are many others. No-name state senators don't rise meteorically to the presidency all on their own. If they did, they wouldn't have to renege on every campaign promise they ever made, which is the history of Obama's presidency.

In any case, the legal realities of the filibuster don't depend at all on who put the chess pieces where they are. What matters is the checkmate by the drones. That doesn't happen without Rand Paul's filibuster, regardless of his subjective intent.
Mar 9, 2013 at 4:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterCheyenne
Dr. Pitchfork, find out everybody who is at the top of this info-graphic and you'll know who most of the secret puppet-masters behind the curtain are. They direct those puppets in D.C. like the Air Force directs those Drones in the middle east, the same ones they'll soon be directing over main street U.S.A.

Mar 9, 2013 at 11:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterSagebrush
The distinguished ladies and gentlemen of this comments column seem quite aware of just how little weight 'The Carney's' voice carries. Even keener is their knowledge of the thin veneer of civility surrounding Eric 'The Holder' Holder in young Eric's campaign to allow Bush41 to escape the Victor rat trap set on 'drug importer' to nail the King of Mena Airport in Arkansas and Pier66 in Miami by Eric 'The Holder's' dutifully hanging his ass out for the 'Fast and Furious' drama.
We need to clean this fucking government up, NOW!
Mar 9, 2013 at 11:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterHoward T. Lewis III
Glenn Greenwald gets down to the nub of Holder's letter, shining a bright light on the shocking breadth of activities that qualify as "combat" in Obama's eyes:

"The Awlaki assassination was justified on the ground that Awlaki was a 'combatant', that he was 'engaged in combat', even though he was killed not while making bombs or shooting at anyone but after he had left a cafe where he had breakfast. If the Obama administration believes that Awlaki was 'engaged in combat' at the time he was killed - and it clearly does - then Holder's letter is meaningless at best, and menacing at worst, because that standard is so broad as to vest the president with exactly the power his supporters now insist he disclaimed."

'The phrase 'engaged in combat' has come to mean little more than: anyone the President accuses, in secrecy and with no due process, of supporting a Terrorist group."


This is an actual example, not a hypothetical: having breakfast is legal grounds for drone assissination.
Mar 10, 2013 at 12:13 PM | Registered CommenterCheyenne
No, I hear you loud and clear, Cheyenne. You're preaching to the choir on these points. I'm just still at a loss trying to understand the need for a filibuster charade to achieve this same end. The WH was already claiming the right to kill Americans anywhere they were "engaged in combat" (tucking into some falafel, e.g.). Why go through such an elaborate charade just to make the same claims?
Mar 10, 2013 at 2:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterDr. Pitchfork
"Why go through such an elaborate charade just to make the same claims?"

Well, that's the inflation-adjusted $64 trillion question, isn't it? The answer depends on your degree of objectivity about what's going on here. Five years of endless yapping from polliticians like Rand Paul about the abuse of the American people has yielded the following record: relentless cutbacks on constitutional freedoms, deteriorating economic conditions, 0 high-level financial prosecutions, 0 criminal referrals, an exploding Federal Reserve balance sheets with deficits to match, the DOJ's admission that even admittedly criminal banks will not be prosecuted, increasing bonuses, and 0 impeachments.

In other words, for all of the barking that's gone on over important issues, the American public loses each and every time. Period. End of story.

On drones, we now have the following before-and-after picture from the Adminstration: we can kill you with drones vs. we can kill you with drones. The only difference is that the chief drone killer, John Brennan, is now the head of the CIA, and the latest iteration of Obama's we-can-kill-you-drone expression, Holder's letter, incorporates by reference the transcript from a 13-hour hearing.

The question we should be asking is: how will the American people lose this round of Erase-Your-Freedoms? I strongly suspect that it will involve that filibuster, which, as usual, was wholly unproductive.
Mar 10, 2013 at 5:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterCheyenne
Good points, Cheyenne.

Anyone here live in Kentucky? Someone needs to write RP's office and ask if he intends to get clarity on Holder's letter -- i.e., does "engaged in combat" include sitting in a cafe, having a cup of coffee? It's as simple as that. If RP doesn't give a rip and is satisfied, then we're right to suspect his real motives.

Cheyenne, what would you say if Rand Paul goes on the offensive and says Holder's overly narrow, scarcely disguised legalese isn't good enough? I think he's the real deal. There are FAR, FAR easier ways to get yourself elected to the Senate than campaigning the way Rand Paul did. On drones and Israel, he's gone out of his way to poke the sharp stick in people's eyes.

All this, by the way, is an important conversation to have. I mean no disrespect with all the back and forth (maybe that goes without saying.)
Mar 11, 2013 at 12:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterDr. Pitchfork
"what would you say if Rand Paul goes on the offensive and says Holder's overly narrow, scarcely disguised legalese isn't good enough?"

That's what he needs to do. Specifically, Senator Paul should demand answers to every question and issue raised in the filibuster (including all 7 above), as well as the issue identified by Glenn Greenwald, which is this: does the Administration think it would've been legal to assissinate Awlaki (an American citizen suspected, but not adjudicated, to have been engaged in terrorist activities)? If the answer is yes, then what exactly did Awlaki do to have been deemed a combatant, since he was killed just after having breakfast?

Undoubtedly the DOJ would answer that it won't engage in speculation about hypothetical questions. But that's not an adequate or even credible response given Holder's most recent letter, which not only purported to answer a hypothetical question, but to answer a question that the filibuster never posed. Holder threw the door on such questions wide open, and it's now Senator Paul's burden to drive through it with a Mack truck.

I hope you're right about the senator, but I'm not gonna hold my breath waiting for such a follow-up letter, which is what's needed to compel admissions from the Administration now that questions from the filibuster are floating around like a genie out of the bottle. We shall see.

I agree these issues are very important; it's hard to imagine a more serious issue than the government, which seems to be arming itself to the teeth on the one hand at the same time it's trying to eliminate the 2nd amendment on the other, essentially stating, in language that's less than clear, that it's open season on Americans in all but the narrowest of circumstances. And I don't mind the back and forth at all. The more of it the better. This discussion should be taking place on the 6 o'clock news every night, but I'm not holding my breath for that either.
Mar 11, 2013 at 4:35 PM | Registered CommenterCheyenne
"government... seems to be arming itself to the teeth"

Bartender, strike "seems to be," insert "is," and make that national conversation a double.

Mar 11, 2013 at 5:32 PM | Registered CommenterCheyenne

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