Wednesday, March 06, 2013


I'm glad someone's standing on the floor of the Senate against domestic droning even if it is Rand Paul.

It's true that many of Paul's supporters are full of shit. When such esteemed civil liberties advocates as Michele Bachmann ("[Obama] is allowing the ACLU to run the CIA") start pretending to give a shit about drones, you know what a put-up job it is.

And Rand Paul is a nut -- not only wrong on the Civil Rights Act but sneaky about it, a Benghazi conspiracy theorist, etc. And he's only a civil libertarian in the uncivil libertarian sense, by which I mean highly selective:
....if someone is attending speeches from someone who is promoting the violent overthrow of our government, that’s really an offense that we should be going after — they should be deported or put in prison.
The new Tom Paine ovah heah. If he ever gets close to high office you can expect him to talk more like this than like Glenn Greenwald, guaranteed.

Still, like I said in an earlier consideration of this phenomenon, wrong is wrong and there's no reason for me to pretend it isn't for partisan advantage. I understand Obama has to -- he's got to deal with the traditional vulnerability of Democrats to charges of being, in the hoary old phrase, weak on defense. And hoary as it is, the charge still has power -- that's what Benghazi-mania is all about: wingnuts holding desperately onto an ancient equity.

But Obama's a politician; that's his lookout, not mine. And while I think he's better than the regular run of postwar U.S. Presidents, "having his back" does not for me extend to countenancing the assassination of U.S. citizens. So I endorse the current news-cycle-grabbing story, and look forward to hauling out the scrapbook when Presidential candidate Paul endorses the invasion of Iran.


  1. wileywitch8:20 PM

    I will not defend a person who works with other terrorists to plot terror attacks against the U.S. or our allies. I don't give a flying fuck about where they were born. Once you declare yourself an enemy of the state, your failure to fill out the paperwork necessary to expatriate means diddly squat.

    Bombing them stateside seems like overkill but, should a group of the kind of right-wing hate groups--- the kind of terrorists that stockpile cyanide to poison the local water supply or bomb federal buildings--- actually begin launching terrorist attacks, killing "liberals," the police, responders, innocent bystanders, and racking up a death toll, then, if nothing else works and they're out in the boondocks, then bomb them with fucking drones. I seriously doubt that would ever be necessary, but I see no reason to consider it illegal on the account of my imagination.

    The President has always had the power to commit atrocity. I do not say that to condone it or to give Obama a pass, but Richard Nixon carried out a secret war (for crying-out-fucking-loud) and the fact that it was illegal did not deter him in the slightest.

    We clearly need to have an open dialogue about the use of drones, and that requires an open dialogue. Anyone who disapproves of drones in any capacity may have a valid viewpoint as a pacifist, but otherwise is just being oddly nit-picky about weapons.

    We clearly need to demand better from our intelligence agencies, and to do what Obama is trying to do--- encourage effective training in languages and dialects, and work more effectively with the intelligence agencies of other nations and the governments of nations where terrorists train and reside.

  2. XeckyGilchrist8:32 PM

    Are the Republicans now saying that they don't buy the ticking time bomb scenario?

  3. tensor8:39 PM

    Excellently done, as usual, Wiley! About all I have to add is my wonder at how Roy can spend most of his post describing, in *his* usual excellent manner, how Obama's critics are unprincipled opportunitsts, then urges we stand with them on principle!

    Sorry, Roy; No Sale.

  4. johnb788:39 PM

    Curious as to how from a liberal perspective, the government assassinating an American is any worse than the government assassinating a foreigner. I can understand how far-right Republicans might believe that, but it seems completely alien to any kind of left-wing principles.

  5. Jay B.8:48 PM

    Well, it's possibly illegal for our government to assassinate anyone, foreign or domestic.

    As far as the liberal position regarding the difference, if there is one, it's an understanding that Americans, by right, are entitled to due process before being killed by our government. Seems only fair, since, you know, it's in the Bill of Rights.

  6. Flipyrwhig8:51 PM

    Presidents regardless of party or ideology believe that presidents have special powers to do things. Congress, regardless of party or ideology, can try to hem them in by legislating bounds on those powers. Bring on the Paul-Wyden bill! Until that happens, this is going nowhere interesting.

  7. Jay B.9:03 PM

    Ah, your typical turtling Flip. Some people find the extraordinary, seemingly limitless powers of the Executive branch interesting to talk about, regardless of the shitheels in Congress and their abdication of duties.

  8. those down votes are me, guys, sorry. you're wrong on this.

  9. whetstone9:07 PM

    I have some admiration for Paul for giving an honest-to-goodness analog filibuster instead of the cheap pushbutton bullshit his party has pioneered.

    America needs this: a reminder that there is not excessive distance separating Rand Paul from the guy on the streetcorner yelling about how Obama's reverse vampires took his girlfriend (and who may have a point about the surveillance state).

  10. FlipYrWhig9:07 PM

    They're interesting to talk about, yes. How to counteract or retract them is another matter. At some point it would be nice to get to that part. In the old Atrios catchphrase, Someone Should Do Something. So what's the something? Maybe a handful of senators has an idea or two.

  11. Tudor Jennings9:08 PM

    I'll take a Rand Paul - with his reasoned hypocrisy over abortion - any time over someone who flip-flops according to the political wind. At least Paul stands by his argument, and people can make of any holes in that what they will.

    Sorry, Roy. Totally not with you on this one.

  12. FlipYrWhig9:15 PM

    I had a response here but I'm not seeing it -- at any rate, I think it would be nice to move on to the part where we talk about what to do to thwart those executive powers. Let's concede that they're bad. What should they be replaced with, and who can make it happen?

  13. Jay B.9:21 PM

    Nixon should have been prosecuted. It would have been a deterrent to other Presidents. And if not, we should arrest them too.

    Right wing terrorists should be caught and prosecuted by our law enforcement officials -- like they usually are. The events like Waco and Ruby Ridge were at least an attempt by law enforcement to apprehend these people and bring them to court before things went very wrong. They had warrants at the very least. Bombing people from drones on American soil, kind of defeats the purpose of having any rule of law at all.

    On a "battlefield" against a "declared" "enemy", well, that gets awful bullshit awful quick too. Since we have no idea who these people are and we trust that our government is honest about who they just murdered, it seems naive in the extreme to think this is a good idea. And yes, war is a criminal enterprise unto itself and by no means excuses regular old bombing of Afghan weddings.

  14. Tudor Jennings9:23 PM

    What? Republicans bought a ticking time bomb?
    Wow, they must be getting desperate...

  15. Tudor Jennings9:28 PM

    Does this mean I get to buy a drone to defend myself?

  16. KatWillow9:29 PM

    But its so much easier to just assassinate someone an "ally" told you is a terrorist plotter. All that time wasting with "due process" and "trial by a jury of One's peers". Ha, I say. HA!

    Plus: everyone knows the only Civil Right that counts is the second amendment. Americans will always be FREE if we own lots of guns.

  17. Well, so long as his hypocrisy is reasoned.

  18. Good to see that American exceptionalism exists even among so-called liberals.

  19. Yes, by all means, let's dispense with those inconvenient trials. Let's just label anybody a terrorist and kill them.

  20. XeckyGilchrist9:42 PM

    At least it's an ethos.

  21. Nixon did it, so Obama should get to do it, too? What the fuck is this?

    Incidentally, as far as I'm concerned, dispensing with ethics and principles for the sake of safety makes you a coward. The right-wingers, for all their hawkish preening, are cowards, because they'd rather bulldoze over brown-people villages and right through the Constitution while they're at it than accept the fact that they will never eliminate the risk of dying violently in some random, unforeseeable act. We adults learned to get over that years ago.

    And as much as I hate conservatives, they have a right to due process, trial by jury, and to not have their families blown to bits for their crimes.

  22. Tudor Jennings9:47 PM

    My point is you can debate with someone using faulty reasoning: i.e. gays spread AIDS. And prove them wrong - if not to themselves, at least to others listening to the debate.

    You can't debate with someone who simply declares "God hates Fags"

  23. And while I think he's better than the regular run of postwar U.S. Presidents, "having his back" does not for me extend to countenancing the assassination of U.S. citizens.

    Glad to hear that, Roy.

    But I don't agree with your pretzeldential assessment. Obama is the most right-wing Democratic President in my lifetime, and he sucks ass.

  24. Tudor Jennings9:52 PM

    And yet the Republicans still think he's a Marxist.
    *sigh* there's just no pleasing some people...

  25. edroso9:53 PM

    Huh, I thought I was giving Paul credit! And this is the thanks I get.

    BTW, the "agitprop bullplop" is from Paul's own words. Blame him.

  26. I've been really astounded to see liberals defending things like drone strikes - on or off American soil, I honestly see no moral distinction - in the Obama Administration that they would have readily (and rightly!) criticized in the Bush Administration. I'm even more astounded to see some of them right here in these comments.

    Apparently some liberals would be just fine with the American Empire lurching forward, business as usual, as long as everyone gets an equal slice of that pie.

  27. Tudor Jennings9:56 PM

    I didn't think Rand Paul's filibuster could get any gayer.

  28. Yeah I don't really understand the basis for considering Obama the best post-war president. The military-industrial complex has been proceeding along its usual course under him, and Wall Street gets an unprecedented free pass on criminal behavior. But watered-down healthcare reform so... yay, I guess?

  29. JennOfArk10:01 PM

    I don't think you're wrong, wiley, in regards to the question of why it's more problematic to use a drone rather than a different type of weapon. As I've said previously, dead is dead and the hand doing the killing is the same whether it's a drone or armed troops or whatever. But that's in regard to war zones. I'm sure some here will claim that's also a cowardly, NIMBY attitude, but I do see a difference in someone - even an American citizen - getting death from above by drone strike while they're hanging out at an Afghan terror training camp vs. domestic use. There are a lot of weapons we use in foreign conflicts that we don't use or find acceptable for domestic peace and/or law enforcement purposes, and I put drones in that category.

  30. I blame Eric Holder for lamely running his mouth. When he was asked by Ted Cruz whether it would be constitutional to take out an American citizen on American soil with a drone, he should have said "No", and then shut up. Why in God's name would the police or the FBI use a drone, with the attendant risk of egregious collateral damage, when they already have the authority (thanks to the Patriot Act, which has pretty much nullified the Bill of Rights), the guns, and the manpower to operate with virtual impunity within the country's borders. And if Cruz seriously worries about an American citizen, sitting in an American cafe, being targeted by a drone, he's an idiot.

  31. Tudor Jennings10:04 PM

    Ah, well, as long as you come to bury Rand Paul, not to praise him... ;)

  32. America needs this: a reminder that there is not excessive distance
    separating Rand Paul from the guy on the streetcorner yelling about how
    Obama's reverse vampires took his girlfriend

    Exactly. The kooks have the same right to freedom of speech as anyone, but what's really destroyed any semblance of reasonable political discourse in this country is the way the modern media washes away context. The libertarian kook comparing taxes to slavery and the Keynesian economist are both just The (Wo)Man on the TV, and thus both equally legitimate.

  33. wileywitch10:07 PM

    It's you prerogative, dex. No offense taken.

  34. Tudor Jennings10:07 PM

    Indeed, after all, the FBI already have flamethrowing tanks to deal with any uppity American citizens in their compounds - sorry I meant their cafes.....

  35. Right, but we have things like the Geneva Convention that dictate what kinds of force we can use in combat operations, against combatants, and what kinds we can use outside of that context.

    The problem with drones in foreign theaters, the way the current Administration is deploying them, is they they're not bound to designated combat zones or operational areas, and there's literally no requirement that their targets be combatants at all. The freakin' CIA operates drones now. Maybe to many people that doesn't seem like it's basically just assassination, because it's not being done by a man in a dapper suit with a silenced pistol, but it is. And worse, it's assassination with significant collateral damage.

  36. If Obama uses drones, he's a tyrant, and if Obama doesn't use drones, he's soft on terror, a comsymp dove, etc. What would President Greenwald do? I know what President Mitt Romney or Rand Paul would do, use about a hundred times as many drones on the New York Times building alone.

  37. Spaghetti Lee10:14 PM

    Sorry, Roy, can't follow you here. There's only so far I can go with "Well, I don't agree with him mostly, but...", especially when 'him' is a turd like Rand Paul.

    What I don't get is that you're well aware Paul's love of civil liberties is disingenuous, highly selective and liable to change if he smells blood in the water. Why would you want an ally like that? Doesn't that only end badly for you? You certainly saw his turd daddy for what he really was:

    I assure you Rand Paul is no different.

  38. wileywitch10:17 PM

    I don't think anyone is recommending that, zusu, however there are real terrorists out there. A lot of countries have been dealing with terrorism for a long time and how effectively they police or don't is always up for debate, but I do not want to live in a country where high death tolls from terrorists OR police/military forces are normal and have been for decades.

    Though I am far more liberal than any President or Congress we've ever had, I am not anti-government (on the whole) and think that the state is granted the right to use force for good reason. The abuse of that power, is and always will be abominable, but that does not mean that it cannot be used to genuinely provide for the common defense. Using a drone to attack a terrorist hide-out (providing that it is indeed a terrorist hide-out) is not really any different from using tanks and the usual arsenal of weapons that are used against a person or persons who keep shooting and won't stop.

    The fact that police departments all over this country are using excessive force, and racial profiling is indeed a problem, but the problem isn't the weapons, it's the judgement they're using and the lack of self-policing that should keep their worse impulses in check.

    The idea that an American citizen abroad who is engaging in terrorist activity should be treated first and foremost like an American citizen is just the other side of the coin of American Exceptionalism.

  39. wileywitch10:19 PM

    "Nixon did it, so Obama should get to do it, too?"

    Your words, pal, not mine. You're making inferences of your own.

  40. Using a drone to attack a terrorist hide-out (providing that it is
    indeed a terrorist hide-out) is not really any different from using
    tanks and the usual arsenal of weapons

    Except it is because the drones are deployed without warrants and without due process. The FBI doesn't just roll up to a cult compound with tanks without getting an arrest warrant first.

    So sure, if you strip away all political and social context and argue from a fantasy world in which the last four years didn't happen, drones are no different from SWAT teams.

  41. wileywitch10:22 PM

    Yes. But that's not about the drones. It would be no different if we used jet fighters, except that those would do a lot more damage and would allow less time for the decision not to bomb.

    NATO has also been using drones in Aghanistan. The Security Council has a say in what is being done in Afghanistan/Pakistan. If someone has decided that it's unlawful to use drones in those places, then they're keeping it a secret.

  42. wileywitch10:25 PM

    So long as only women and minorities are woefully screwed over by his positions.

  43. NATO is a Cold War era institution with a Cold War era boner for nukes. They don't add any moral legitimacy to such actions.

    Second, don't hide behind legalisms. A lot of things are legal (see: PATRIOT Act) that shouldn't be. That's what this argument revolves around. I don't give a flying fuck if the drone strikes are legal. They're wrong.

  44. wileywitch10:29 PM

    Oh, Jesus Fucking Christ! After all the bullshit the wing-nuts have pulled, the bombing of the federal building, the asshat that was going to take down the Tide Foundation, the man who flew an airplane into an IRS building, the wildy proliferation hate-groups in this country that are buying weapons and ammunition faster than industry can make it, and on an on; are you really going to glibly dismiss the possibility of a real and virulent terrorist threat from American citizens against American citizens that would require an armed response?

  45. wileywitch10:32 PM

    That is your opinion, and you're entitled to it, but what does it have to do with existing laws and the power of institutions to police nations? Opinions are very limited in their value and effectiveness. To reign in the use of violence, requires a lot of very specific work.

  46. QuickStriker10:36 PM

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't the new "filibuster reform" force him to do so?

  47. montag211:08 PM

    Not only is most of what we've done in recent times illegal and wrong, it's stupid, too. We've become what we claim to be fighting (and that's a trend that began long before 9/11--for the historically minded, just have a look at the 1954 Doolittle Report, or NSA 10/11).

    That knocking you hear is Benjamin Franklin banging his ghostly head on his ghostly desk.

  48. Another problem with the drones is that they can be operated by someone well out of the zone of danger. Hell, they don't even need to be on the same continent.

  49. Yes, America is a safer place now that those Kent State hippies are dead.

  50. Or alternatively, we could just go with your "if white people countries are doing it, it must be legit" framework and let the use of violence march forward.

  51. "ANY uppity American citizens"? "Flame throwing tanks"? Listen to yourself. Do you really think that? If you do, I probably have no argument that could persuade you that you're getting, shall we say, a bit paranoid. I'll grant you that FBI surveillance of the Raging Grannies, or the treatment that Bradley Manning is getting is over the top, but thinking that drone borne Hellfire missiles, or even flamethrowers, would be used to take out someone in the U.S. is equally over the top. Who exactly do you think is in actual danger of getting a missile through their living room window? An Occupy Wall Street organizer? An anti nuke protester? Even someone planning to blow up the Keystone pipeline? Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and the rest of the nutbars are using grandstanding language like this to inflame not only Stormfront conservatives, but liberals who, in aspiring to ideological purity, would like to think that the Obama administration would attack them for... what... insufficient zeal in backing them? And yes, I DO remember Waco and Ruby Ridge, and believe it or not, lessons were learned that will make repeats of those incidents, if not impossible, at least less likely.

  52. wileywitch11:55 PM

    That is offensive on a level, but they aren't being used in a sport or on a playground. No one goes out of their way to make sure that there combative acts are on par with their enemy's. Prevailing is the goal on all sides.

    And it isn't really much more offensive than one pilot and navigator putting themselves at risk in order to kill far more people and do far more damage on the ground than a drone can.

  53. wileywitch11:57 PM

    Hippier than though, are you? While comparing right-wing terrorists who murder to protesting students?

  54. wileywitch12:03 AM

    Yes. Wyden
    claimed the United States had the right to use lethal military force
    against citizens who joined foreign militant groups and waged war
    against the country. However, he warned the current practice of using
    drone strikes to kill suspected terrorists was clouded in secrecy and
    lacked congressional oversight, which he described as an affront to
    the American system of checks and balances.

    Wyden said he understood why Paul was so concerned by the letter he
    received. However, in Wyden’s view it appeared the attorney general
    had ruled out the possibility of using military force within the
    United States except in extremely rare situations, such as an

    “In my judgment, if the United States is being attacked by a foreign
    power — the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor — the President can
    indeed have the power to use military force to defend our country,”
    he said, adding it was important to establish that “unless there is
    an exceptional situation, like Pearl Harbor, the President should not
    go around ordering the military to use lethal force inside the United

    ron wyden...

    I think that's fair. It's the duty of Congress and congressional to oversee these things.

  55. FlipYrWhig12:05 AM

    But, that's the thing. If drone attacks WERE authorized in this way, in accordance with a legal process, it would still mean that people were being killed half a world away by robots. And that's where so much of the rhetorical force for the critique comes from. That's why I think the "death robots" line of criticism is a distraction.

  56. mortimer12:11 AM

    It seems to me that some of the rhetoric in support of assassination isn't all that different from that used to advocate torture, but where the degree of certainty required to kill someone is even more specious (what if you knew James Holmes was going to go into a theater to murder all those people, huh?...). For torture advocates, or so the argument goes, there is always convincing intelligence and/or quantifiable evidence that a suspect has exactly the specific knowledge and information you need to prevent something horrible (or really just to further an investigation), and that justifies torturing it out of him. I'm assuming even assassination advocates might think the state has a greater burden of proof before they can be allowed to murder someone, and yet some would entrust the executive branch with the power to impose extra-legal capital punishment even as they might be against the legal version. Presumably, the difference between drone assassination and the death penalty is its preemptive rationale, but so far anti-terror units and the FBI seem to be doing a bang up job rounding up wannabe terrorists (even if the conspiracies seem a little dodgy) with all the proper paperwork in order and without assassinating anyone.

    The drones themselves aren't nearly as much an issue for me as how they are used -- a cruise missile or a SWAT team can do just as much damage IMO. Of course, the advancing robotic technology will eventually undermine what's left of our right to privacy but then Scalia says we don't have one so what the hell.

    However, politics may make strange bedfellows but I'm not getting into the sack with the Rand Paul douchebag. You know he'd have never opposed George W. Bush's CIA nominee for similar reasons, and I tend to think a President Rand Paul would just love having the executive power to sick a drone on a teachers union or two.

  57. DocAmazing12:21 AM

    If you trust the FBI to do right by US citizens, you have not been following the news. They have not--repeat, not--been going after right-wing terrorists; they've been setting up stings and entrapments against Muslims and "eco-terrorists".

    The FBI has not and will not be going after right-wing terrorists.

  58. DocAmazing12:34 AM

    I do not want to live in a country where high death tolls from ... police/military forces are normal and have been for

    Too late. You're here. Compare the rate at which law enforcement kills people in this country with any other industrialized nation.

  59. DocAmazing12:36 AM

    The thing to consider: The guy arguing against massive domestic law enforcement overreach is Rand Fucking Paul.

    How fucked-up is that? How did things get to this point?

  60. sharculese12:48 AM

    I can't remember exactly who it was, but there was a committee hearing where a pro-choice advocate was talking, and Rand Paul threw a tantrum about how why should women be allowed to control their bodies when the government is telling me that I have to use a non-nuclear powered toilet.

    I mean, I'm pretty sure Rand Paul is a cyborg built to fleece Paulistas of their money by faking felicity to the ur-gnome's dipshit principles, and the number of times he's left those dude's feeling fucked over is hilarious, but the point remains that that dude is a cock.

  61. AGoodQuestion12:52 AM

    Yeah, John Brennan having his nomination held up by Rand Paul falls under the category of "couldn't happen to a nicer guy."

  62. AGoodQuestion12:56 AM

    Oh, there's an excellent chance that Paul will prove himself a hypocrite on this. And the more righteously he talks now, the starker that hypocrisy will be. I think that's part of Roy's point.

  63. Spaghetti Lee1:12 AM

    Who would you say is the best post-WWII president? Not being glib, honestly curious. I'd probably say LBJ over Truman and Eisenhower. Yes, Vietnam is a big dark stain on his legacy, but it's hard to not pick the guy who signed the CRA, the VRA, Medicare, and Medicaid into law. The problem, of course, is that I wouldn't even consider picking anyone after him. That doesn't bode well.

    I try not to gush over Obama, but I also try to take things in context. The GOP is insane, the media's useless, and the economy's shit. Some of the half-victories he has scraped out are pretty impressive on their own. I know talking about how rough he has it is something his left-wing critics love to jeer at, but honestly, what's the alternative here? What should he be doing? The responses I get tend to be either Tom-Friedman style crap ("show more LEADERSHIP!") or stuff that makes me think they don't care about executive overreach as much as they claim ("Round up all the crooks on Wall Street and throw them in jail! He hasn't done that yet because he's in their pockets!")

  64. AGoodQuestion1:13 AM

    No argument there, really. And my eyes are already rolling at the praise I can surmise he's getting from Greenwald. I think he's sort of backed into having a good point on this, but in general he's kind of a pestilence.

  65. Jimcima1:42 AM

    Actually they think he's a negro; that other stuff is just window dressing.

  66. trizzlor1:42 AM

    I'm confused, was the Civil War unconstitutional? As far as I can recall, there was quite a bit of long-range bombing on American citizens ... without trials, even!

  67. brandon1:50 AM

    Well, the Democratic Party is the big tent party now! That means now we get everything from your more incrementalist socialists/anarchists to all the authoritarian nationalists who don't happen to believe in the Republican talk-radio mythology! Rejoice!

  68. DocAmazing1:52 AM

    Well, there was that "declaration of war" thing...

  69. trizzlor1:56 AM

    #1. So Holder was correct when he said drones could be used on US soil?

    #2. The Supreme Court, citing the War Powers Act, has repeatedly recognized the AUMF for Iraq and Afghanistan as equivalent to a formal deceleration when it comes to military conduct.

  70. DocAmazing2:03 AM

    If there's a declared war on US soil, then weapons of war will legitimately be used.
    The Supreme Court declared Li'l George Bush the winner of the 2000 presidential election. The AUMF is a very, very slender reed to hang all this shit on, and if that's what you're basing your advocacy on, I expect that you probably wouldn't have too much problem with whatever target The People Wh We Should Be Obeying decide to hit next.

  71. Jimcima2:04 AM

    Everyone should be treated first and foremost like an American citizen by the American government. And yes, this is the humane, rational and moral obverse to American Exceptionalism. You are exactly correct.

    The only possible way to logically justify civil liberties for anyone is to extend them to everyone.

  72. trizzlor2:08 AM

    Okay, at least we have some common ground on the drone side of things. I'm assuming when you say "declared war on US soil" that also includes declaring war on a foreign nation whose enemies then enter US territory (as in Ex Parte Quirin, for example).

    Congress has the power to declare war, they chose to do this by authorizing the president to use the military in Afghanistan, Iraq, and allied states. What about the AUMF doesn't satisfy your view of a declaration?

  73. Jimcima2:11 AM

    Not really the same at all:

  74. DocAmazing2:13 AM

    Gee, an open-ended statement that applies to al-Qaeda (an organization that has no official mmbership) and anybody that somebody might think is al-Qaeda is equivalent to a decalration of war? Sorry; that's just a temporary authorization for the use of force in a conflict that apparently will never end because there is no one to surrender. It is the worst kind of cowardly bullshit, and an insult to the Constitution.

    Let's not forget that we've got a law enforcement/intelligence apparatus in this country that loves to declare people domestic enemies. War is war; all of this let's-see-what-we-can-get-away-with bullshit is just the military-industrial complex adjusting their chokehold so that they're in a more comfortable position.

  75. trizzlor2:22 AM

    The Supreme Court has dealt with both of these issues in the Hamdi decision:

    Further, we understand Congress’ grant of authority for the use of “necessary and appropriate force” to include the authority to detain for the duration of the relevant conflict, and our understanding is based on long- standing law-of-war principles. If the practical circum- stances of a given conflict are entirely unlike those of the conflicts that informed the development of the law of war, that understanding may unravel. But that is not the situation we face as of this date. Active combat operations against Taliban fighters apparently are ongoing in Afghanistan … The United States may detain, for the duration of these hostilities, individuals legitimately determined to be Taliban combatants who “engaged in an armed conflict against the United States.” If the record establishes that United States troops are still involved in active combat in Afghanistan, those detentions are part of the exercise of “necessary and appropriate force” and therefore are authorized by the AUMF.

    The AUMF is thereby restricted to time of active combat in Afghanistan or Iraq, and to hot battlefields in Afghanistan or Iraq or allied states.

  76. Jay B.2:26 AM

    I disagree completely. Clinton was even more right wing and there's a decent argument to be made that Carter was too.

    Since those are two of the three Democratic Presidents for people younger than 44, it's impossible to say that Obama is more conservative than Clinton. Clinton, in case you forgot or are only 12 years old, was in favor of welfare reform, school uniforms, had a very tenuous stance on labor (and passed NAFTA), signed the Defense of Marriage Act, bombed plenty of people and had Dick Morris as an advisor. So, please, until you actually have a point, it's just not true.

  77. Jay B.2:42 AM

    True, but since it's the actual law for Americans, we should try and start there. I accept that other countries have other laws, and I think it would be funny for those countries without due process laws to drone, say, an American celebrity or Congressman, and see just how balanced out objective is on the efficacy and decency of remote, due-process-free assassination really is.

  78. Jay B.2:44 AM

    Lets turn it around, if any other country in the world had drones and they decided that, say, a belligerent American Congressman was the declared enemy of their state, why wouldn't be OK to assassinate them?

  79. Spaghetti Lee2:47 AM

    School uniforms are right-wing? I mean, I hate them already and I'd love to have another excuse.

  80. trizzlor2:54 AM

    And for the record, I'm NOT basing my advocacy on the AUMF. It's just a very different argument when people on the left say "Look that fascist Eric Holder thinks he can launch robot attacks on Americans without a warrant or trial!" instead of "Obviously Holder is correct that weapons and conduct of war can be used against enemies on US soil, even if those enemies happen to be turned American citizens. But I'm not comfortable with how loose the current AUMF is.". The focus on drones and due process rather than war powers is what confuses me. I mean, shouldn't your argument be just as valid for any other type of weaponry?

  81. Jay B.2:59 AM

    After reading the comments that some have here, I really can't wait until the shrieks of horror when a foreign government decides, in absentia, to assassinate a US President or Congressman with flying robots. Clearly, given the logic of this thread, anyone who is a perceived danger to the US, whether a right-wing militiaman or a foreign national who may or may not be the alleged terrorist wishing us harm (who is to say, really?) is fair game, without trial and without anything like pesky oversight to assure anyone that the person about to be killed is, in fact, the actual person we want to kill. It goes without saying that the reverse should be true as well, for other countries. Since we are the global policeman, who bombs at will, it would behoove countries around the world to preemptively defend themselves from Americans. Why the fuck shouldn't they consider us to be a potential threat? What's the standard anyway? Which one of those standards hasn't the US obliterated? If you were an Iraqi with access to a drone, wouldn't you kill any American you could? We killed hundreds of thousands of them for no fucking reason at all, unprovoked by the Iraqi government.

    Eventually, this cocksure bloodlust will boomerang on our righteous bombing and torture for freedom. Not that a lot of you seem to give a shit. I should be surprised, but it's more depressing than anything.

  82. Snarll5:27 AM

    I second the vote for LBJ. Last actual Democratic president, as far as I can tell.

  83. Snarll5:31 AM

    I disagree completely. Clinton was even more right wing and there's a decent argument to be made that Carter was too.

    And Carter luvvved him some good ol' dee-regulation too. He started the trend (airlines), not Reagan.

  84. Derelict6:51 AM

    Paul revealing himself to be a massive hypocrite is considered a strength on the right. It's a feature, not a bug. As opposed to the left where being a hypocrite draws fire,being a hypocrite on the right draws more vocal (and monetary) support.

  85. Fiddlin' Bill6:56 AM

    I think mostly what Rand Paul is doing is exhibiting his infinite holier-than-thou attitude at taxpayer expense. And I thought last week he and his party said we were broke and had to give up Social Security. It would be sweet justice if some morning he finds a drone hovering outside his window, or possibly a surprise ticket to Guantanamo Jail.

  86. This.

    Also, too, I'm not sure that the handful of deluded "Old Men" of the GOP who are still trying to manage this Frankenstein monster of teabaggers, wingnuts, gunfucks, and plain old ignorant asshats that their party has become--I'm not sure they don't think they are playing some masterful "Don't Throw Me into the Briar Patch" gambit with their pretense that Obama is somehow liberal.

    I mean look at the idiots and losers they put up to be thrashed in the last election. Surely, that was partly by design, even if poorly done.

  87. Mr. Wonderful8:13 AM

    This comment is the most interesting thing I've read all week. Is it true? If so, it would explain a lot, starting with how they "can be such blatant hypocrites and not acknowledge it." But then how do they justify it?

    ALL their arguments, whether political, economic, or moral, are ostensibly based on principle. That's the basis for their unending hypocrisy, since the pubic assertion of principle is the hanging curve that sets up the home run of hypocritical behavior.

    How, then, do they justify the continual disconnect between their "values" and their behavior? That it's "realistic"? Are they aware of and proud of their Machiavellian lack of scruple?

    Or do they attempt to justify it by claiming that their behavior is "really consistent on a deeper level"?

    Or do they simply not give a fuck? Or, alt., are they blissfully unaware of their hypocrisy at all?

    I am touchingly sincere about all these questions.

  88. redoubt8:18 AM

    ALL their arguments, whether political, economic, or moral, are ostensibly based on principle.
    . . . but actually based on vigorish.

  89. Mr. Wonderful8:23 AM

    God damn it, my snarkometer is busted. Is this serious? "Far-right Republicans might believe that privileged life is worth LESS than unprivileged life"? Don't you mean the site-oppo? And what, in this context, does "liberal values" mean? The liberal value that every life is worth taking regardless of race, creed, or social class?

  90. johnb788:27 AM

    I don't think the US government should have people killed, except in wars as defined by the Geneva Convention, or trial in a court of law (I don't particularly approve of execution by law, but that's a second-order problem).

    I don't really give a shit whether the people killed by the US government outside of these situations are American, Canadian, Turkish or Fijian, and I don't really care whether they're killed in the US, Canada, Turkey or Fiji.

    That's what I mean: that it's hypocritical to oppose this particular thing, whilst not opposing identical campaigns against foreigners overseas.

  91. johnb788:28 AM

    The government of Pakistan taking out Donald Rumsfeld with a drone strike would, I think, unite all of the decent human beings in the world in joy.

  92. Is this the groin paste thread?

  93. The guy arguing against very specific instances of massive domestic law enforcement overreach is Rand Fucking Paul, the son of Ron "Militarize the Border" Paul; the son who doesn't embrace his dad's rare sanity in the War on (Certain Classes of People Who Use) Drugs. So things got to this point because the right sort of white people could be affected. Which, ironically, could indeed serve as a wakeup call in the manner of the Swartz case.

  94. mortimer9:03 AM

    I agree with you that the fact that drones are robotic weapons is mostly a MacGuffin. A Tomahawk cruise missile can be launched from 1,500 miles away, and a B-52 safely dropping bombs at invisible targets is in some ways no less robotic.

    Assassination as legitimate state policy is the crux of the issue here, and while drone technology enables its execution, I don't think it would be any different even if it only required sending in Bruce Willis with an assault rifle. This isn't about engaging a bunch of domestic terrorists in a firefight. This is about the government killing, say, an Eric Rudolph or David Koresh (and whomever they happen to be with at the time), without legal justification simply because the Executive branch determines them to be an enemy of the state. Let's pretend the government knows that another Timothy McVeigh type is going to blow up a building. If his whereabouts are so precisely known that he can be targeted him with a drone then why not go arrest him? As to the alleged preventative benefits of assassination see Iraq, WMD in.

    (I disagree with you but I still liked your comment because you make your case like a normal person instead of the usual Internet asshole.)

  95. Nope. There was no "filibuster reform," just a new gentlemen's agreement that would reduce the use of the filibuster to extraordinary cases, which we have subsequently seen are defined as the Senate majority trying to pass legislation or Obama nominating anyone for anything. The talking filibuster, the "need 40 votes to continue debate, not 60 votes to end debate" provision ... all scrapped.

  96. The FBI has not and will not be going after right-wing terrorists.

    Because if they do, Rand Paul and his fellow-travelers will throw another hissy fit. You might recall the foofaraw when the Bush administration's** DHS dared suggest that there were right-wing domestic terrorists.

    **Fortunately, thanks to the timing of the report, it was all Obama and Napolitano trying to criminalize dissent.

  97. a belligerent American Congressman was the declared enemy of their state, why wouldn't be OK to assassinate them?

    I gotta admit, in the case of some belligerent American Congressmen, my feelings would be mixed. Then there's the fact that Israel would be the likeliest country to assassinate an American politician for insufficient fealty to Likud. That might be sufficiently bad press to weaken the American Cult of Israel around the margins ... No, no, that way lies madness.

    Now, I guess the best way to turn it around is that the US government would certainly treat such an assassination (regardless of whether it involved an unmanned drone or not) as a "terrorist" act, declaration of war, etc, etc, while simultaneously maintaining its right to do the same anywhere in the world. As has been the case for decades, drones or no drones. So as was asked upthread, how do we get the ratchet to go the other way? It requires Congress reasserting its power over the Executive and reining in the warmaking. But Rand Paul and the other two GOP senators don't give a fuck about reducing the occurrences of blowing foreigners into bloody rags, here or abroad. So what's to do?

  98. One thing I'm backhandedly grateful to Rand "Ayn" Paul for is being the poster child for what many people naively believe the filibuster is all about. Perhaps it will provide cover if the "talking filibuster" reform which Paul oppposed gets re-opened thanks to the continued obstruction of a D.C. Circuit nominee.

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  100. Leeds man9:34 AM

    Bravo, Jay B. Very well said.

  101. I suppose that a congress of chickenshit Democrats, loony Republicans and one especially loony Republican speaking out about drone warfare, is really the finest joke upon pro-peace left wingers, that could be devised. Since this is such a excellent joke, I will laugh my ass off. After I laugh, I will say that Rand Paul (who was later joined by Ron Wyden of the Democrats) is absolutely right, we should not be using armed drones against people in the US.

    And I'll expand it and point out that Paul is really focusing on a minor part of the problem. His objection is to drones used in the USA. The problem is drone use overall, which, though sold as a way to strike Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders, is actually killing civilians and even children, and is really a new high-tech form of military occupation. It has all the death and oppression that goes with any military occupation, but the high tech nature of it allows us to pretend to ourselves that what we are doing is "surgically striking" the bad guys.

  102. DocAmazing9:53 AM

    Unfortunately, despite the official cessation of hostilities in Iraq, there are still hot battlefields there. Thanks to the expansive reading of the AUMF, we have drone strikes in areas nowhere near Afghanistan or Iraq. Were they "allied states?" I'm sure that would come as a surprise to the government of Yemen.

    But a Democrat is president, so it's all good. Yay team.

  103. fraser10:01 AM

    As witness all the bilge in sex scandals about "Well, at least hypocrisy is vice giving tribute to virtue!"

  104. I was grossed out by this comment, but felt compelled to upvote it anyway, as it reads like something Bob the Angry Flower would actually say.

  105. I want to be united in a lover's pact with your comment. When the drone takes us out, the folks examining the smoking crater will never know who we were.

  106. For some reason Americans believe that they are the only nation that could ever use a drone. We ought, instead, to consider that everyone and their kid brother is busy making them.

  107. Yup, LBJ signed a passel of progressive legislation into law, while also suckering us into a war under false pretenses, lying about the progress of that war, dropping tons of bombs on CIA-infiltrated Cambodia ... At least drones weren't involved, and no one was secretly assassinated purely on executive branch say-so back in those simpler times.

  108. On a personal level, I'd like to make it clear: I'm against warrantless wiretaps, extra judicial assassinations, especially on American soil, and the use of remote piloted aerial vehicles (the term "drone" actually means a computerized flying weapon that it aimed at a pre-programmed target and released without constant inflight control, more like a cruise missile) that may be targeting an identified and verified enemy, but will cause innocent bystanders to be killed along with the guilty. The issue Roy and Rand Paul brought up was specifically drones, and Paul's attack on "drones" is designed to appeal to the public's fear that they can be targeted for simply being an undesirable who has an inconvenient opinion. This kind of "slippery slope" argument is lazy and dishonest, but very effective.

  109. "So what's to do?"
    How about starting by acknowledging that forcing the issue of domestic drones is a way to get the issues of drones and executive power and the "Long War" into the public eye some more?

  110. zencomix10:39 AM

    I believe you are mistaken. They weren't hippies. They were members of the Young Republicans that were killed by that Liberal, Richard M. Nixon.

  111. Say, who is downvoting us?

    Sorry for the levity, but drones is not a subject I feel well-versed in, and, frankly, a lot of the fighting over the subject makes me uncomfortable.

    I come here for the snark.*

    *Bearing in mind that Roy is welcome to talk about whatever the fuck he damn well pleases. If I want to control content, I'll do it at my blog.

  112. Bold, Roy. Bold. But why are you endorsing Rand Paul for President in 2016?

  113. So, what is the difference you see between Clinton and Obama again? Clinton passed welfare "reform," and I admit Obama hasn't been able to slash "entitlements" as much as he wants, but he's trying. His stance on labor is at best tenuous, and he's pushed through several new "free trade agreements." He supported DOMA and explicitly opposed same-sex marriage for years, and I'm not very impressed by his "evolution." on the subject. He's also bombed plenty of people, and had Rahm Emanuel, Timothy Geithner, and other scum as advisors. Of course there are differences, but Obama stands on Clinton's shoulders and carries on his good fight. I'm not really very concerned about which one is more right-wing, but is it really an endorsement of Obama to say that he's not quite as right-wing as Clinton?

  114. Well, all that is why I find it pointless to engage in these rankings (who is the best/worst post-WWII president? probably what's-his-name, the guy on West Wing, amirite?). Top-ten lists are useless, even for simple things like pop songs; for complex entities like presidential administrations, they're worthless. Even Nixon did some good things; so did Reagan. Even Obama! But that's a distraction. I can admit the good things someone does without ignoring the bad things, and Obama has done some very very bad things.

  115. casino implosion11:01 AM

    Rand Paul: most dangerous man in American politics. Mark my words.

  116. Jack Bauer11:01 AM

    We need to drone bomb that Rainbow Gathering NOW before the Crotch Rot enters the water supply! NOW DAMMIT!

  117. Well, I don't know much about liberal perspectives, but there were critics of the drone program, the NDAA, and Obama's other programs of goodness who attacked them when they only affected foreigners; they didn't have to wait for Eric Holder to hint that it would be legal to do these things to Amurricans.

  118. The Aqua Buddha11:03 AM

    We need to drone bomb that young coed NOW, before she exposes my true identity!

  119. Well, there's your problem: the people who opposed US crimes before this kerfluffle were prematurely anti-drone. Timing is vital. Sort of like the people who opposed Bush's invasion of Iraq before all the really cool people decided it wasn't such a good idea.

  120. johnb7811:05 AM

    I'm down with those people; they're my people. Why the fuck did these other people not talk until it was citizens on the line?

  121. johnb7811:08 AM

    I fear you're right. We're in Prodigal Son territory basically. If you're like "dude, we shouldn't kill people", you're naive and ridiculous; if you're like "dude, killing people is awesome, but we shouldn't airstrike citizens", you're a legit straight-up patriot.


  122. however there are real terrorists out there...

    Yes, and they're running our government. I don't care how far left you are, you're running on the worst kind of propaganda.

  123. Cosby, Kills, Nosh, and Jung11:11 AM

    Tin soldiers and Nixon's cunning,
    we've finally been owned,
    this summer you'll hear the droning,
    forewarned but ho hum, so...

  124. tinheart11:19 AM

    With regard to Rand Paul's position on domestic droning I'm reminded of the saying that "even a broken clock is right twice a day".

    Which is +1 more times right that Rand Paul is. So can we swap Rand Paul for a broken clock?

  125. ... and no one was secretly assassinated purely on executive branch say-so back in those simpler times.

    The victims of the Phoenix Program would probably disagree.

  126. Derelict11:35 AM

    Yes, they are blatant hypocrites, and when they do acknowledge it, it's usually with a "in your face! Suck it, libs!" attitude.

    Conservatives are all about principles, as long as their principles can be used to beat their perceived enemies about the face and neck. For example, "family values" are of the utmost importance and must be used to judge people. Thus, Elliot Spitzer cannot possibly continue in office as governor of New York because he had a relationship with a prostitute. But David Vitter can continue to be a U.S. Senator AND he can continue to be a moral scold despite having had relationships with numerous prostitutes (because who are we to judge?).

    They do not justify their behavior, because they don't have to. They might acknowledge their hypocrisy, but their followers take joy in the hypocrisy because it drives liberals crazy. And in the end, there really are only two bedrock principles to conservatism: The continuing search for the highest moral justification for selfishness, and whatever pisses off liberal, updated daily.

  127. Don't sweat the haters Dr. Kenneth!

    Groin paste is where its at -- and drone strikes.

  128. Wiley: I think the point is that once you say the government can assassinate Americans, you open yourself up to the government assassinating hippies, right wing terrorists, your annoying next door neighbor, your accountant...

  129. Dammit, wjts, now you're never going to let me live that "Joke 3.0" thing down, are you?

  130. 4jkb4ia12:04 PM

    Paul doesn't have high office now?

    This is a response to Steve M.'s post more or less. Reagan was against the draft when Carter proposed it, but he continued to be against the draft. Rand Paul has a shot to be president if he is the honest conservative in the race and doesn't change ideology he has already espoused. (Paul may have to say that he supports the Civil Rights Act but everyone who knows him knows that he has been willing to make a lot of noise against foreign entanglements.) The Republican primary electorate was asked to support Romney even if they didn't know who the real Romney was and if there isn't a figure of hate like Obama to rally them they may not buy it again in the near future.

  131. wileywitch12:09 PM

    Propoganda? When the police are murdering citizens, you don't complain about the gun. Clearly this is a very emotional issue, because intelligent people are having a hard time seeing the logic.

  132. JennOfArk12:11 PM

    He supported DOMA and explicitly opposed same-sex marriage for years, and I'm not very impressed by his "evolution." on the subject.

    Yes, there's nothing at all "impressive" about someone advocating for marriage equality in his inaugural address, when only 8 years previously the opposing party won re-election in part by proposing to pass a Constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage.

    If only your pure moral clarity had been sought out by Obama, Duncan!

  133. 4jkb4ia12:15 PM

    Also too ;), Rand Paul has the model of his Dad. Ron Paul ran for president year after year and was content to be a gadfly and a long shot as long as people were coming around to his point of view.

  134. Nope. I suppose we'll have to spend the rest of our lives chasing one another around the Internet and stepping on each other's jokes. Sink all punchlines and payoffs to one common pool! and since neither can be mine, let me then tow to pieces, while still chasing thee and so on and so forth.

    And I didn't mean to come off as snarky as I did in mentioning the Phoenix Program. I bring it up because my beef (and I think yours, too) is with government violence carried out in secrecy and with no accountability regardless of whether or not that violence is committed by Green Berets in a Vietnamese hamlet or by CIA UAV pilots in Virginia. UAVs qua UAVs are not, to my mind, the problem (NOAA uses UAVs, and for my money they can have as many of the things as they want). The problem is the national security state.

  135. wileywitch12:19 PM

    So is it the assumption now that because someone thinks the problem here is not the drones but targeting that they're just a "dude-ing" numbnuts? Or that anyone who is opposed to one war but not all of them--- anyone who is often anti-war, but not a pacifist is a jingo-headed asshat cheering to see another war on the scoreboard?

  136. wileywitch12:21 PM

    Those people in Afghanistan and Pakistan should have been killed by real pilots, right?

  137. a new high-tech form of military occupation

    Not all that new, I'm afraid. Google 'Air Control' and Winston Churchill. And where was this strategy being implemented back in the day? Oh yeah - Iraq...

  138. wileywitch12:32 PM

    You mean all those "Great Society" laws passed with a clear Democratic majority in the House and Senate, after the assassination of Kennedy and the budding Civil Rights Movement made people generally more open to it?

    Congress makes laws. Johnson did want those changes and lobbied hard for them, but anyone who thinks Johnson could have gotten this Congress to pass them is dreaming and indulging in some weird Presidential hero worshipping.

  139. wileywitch12:38 PM

    It would be so much better if the Democratic Party only represented the liberals that one subset of liberals thought were the real liberals, then the Democratic Party would die and surely a lot of little liberal parties would form with the money they have and Republicans would tremble, right?

  140. wileywitch12:40 PM

    Not really. There are an infinite number of slippery slopes, there are very few that need to be legislated.

  141. KatWillow1:01 PM

    . . . and "Occupiers". Gov't already behaved like a fascist police state towards them. They probably did use drones for surveillance, too. Oh, if only they could have bombed those dirty hippy-terrorists, instead of just shooting and pepper-spraying them!

  142. KatWillow1:05 PM

    Its also very distracting. People are discussing drones instead of the destruction of the Gulf of Mexico, World temps (and oceans) rising terrifyingly fast, and vicious corporations behaving more like Mafia than legitimate companies having complete control of our World's economy- and deliberately destroying it.

  143. KatWillow1:18 PM

    That's how I read your post. Rand's a jerk, but he's right this time.

  144. trizzlor1:23 PM

    Here is the list of drone strikes in the past five years (LINK): Libya, Iraq (none after 2009), Yemen, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Which of these countries is not an active battlefield?

    Iraq? Since our withdrawal from Iraq there have been no drone-strikes there, consistent with the requirements of the Supreme Court that there be active military operations there.

    Yemen? We are working closely with the Yemen government against Al Qaeda there, providing intelligence and military assistance. The drone strikes there have clearly targeted high-level officials involved in Al Qaeda operations in Afghanistan, this kind of operational involvement is one of the prerequisites. By any definition, Yemen is an allied state. Did we have to declare war on Britain to aid them in WW2?

  145. Tudor Jennings2:24 PM

    Oooh slippery slopes legislation!
    Do you need to be this high to ride on one then? :)

  146. Tudor Jennings2:25 PM

    Yeah, you got me there, I admit.

  147. Jay B.2:28 PM

    So, what is the difference you see between Clinton and Obama again?

    The bailouts for the automakers were made with expressed input by unions, he lifted the ban on gays in the military and he's better on civil rights (but not in any way civil liberties).

    I'm not really very concerned about which one is more right-wing, but is it really an endorsement of Obama to say that he's not quite as right-wing as Clinton?

    No. If you take it as "endorsement", it's because you read everything in bad faith.

  148. The thing is, harassment, pepper-spraying, beatings, false arrest, and even the occasional "regrettable" shooting are usually a much better tactic for dealing with inconvenient dissent in a modern liberal democracy. Assassinating protestors via bombing might (might) actually be a bit much for some of the currently disengaged public, regardless of how it's been implicitly or explicitly endorsed by all of the GOP assboils currently sharting ostentatiously about DROOOOONES.

  149. Tudor Jennings2:59 PM

    BOOM goes the dynamite.

  150. Tudor Jennings3:02 PM

    That's what the Second Amendment is there for. :)

  151. tigrismus3:07 PM

    Yeah, I also thought Holder's response was really dumb. It reminded me of those people who could justify legalizing torture by coming up with some dumb ass hypothetical. Sure, vampire zombie witches from space might tell you they were going to bomb the statue of liberty right after they had their sabbat at this time and exact address, but thinking about it now as a possible justification for drone use is a really fucking stupid way to set policy.

  152. XeckyGilchrist3:40 PM

    From Balloon Juice: Holder's response to Paul: "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."

    Paul was happy with that. Is he still a hero?

  153. The problem is, just like with Daddy Paul's opposition to foreign entanglements, the medium is important. The conduit of the moment for "forcing the issue" of executive power is a reactionary sociopathic dumbshit blocking the appointment of a CIA director who would likely have nothing to do with targeting Americans on American soil, and who deferred on the issue to the AG, who refused to declare that the Executive Branch could never, ever use lethal force against American citizens on US soil without due process. The hill Rand Paul picked to filibuster on isn't even located on the same planet as the one composed of legitimate concerns about the national security state. This is pure black (and I do mean black) helicopter posturing, and if anything he's weakened the case against indiscriminate use of assassinations overseas by conflating it with fringe hypotheticals about dropping bombs on breakfasting American citizens in domestic cafes. Now the Obama administration can simply dismiss the absurdity of Paul's position, Beltway centrists can declare the subject dealt with, low-information voters can think "Of course the government could shoot someone to stop another 9/11," Fox and the other right-wing outlets can screech about how it makes Obama worse than Stalin, and the al-Qaeda AUMF and targeted overseas killings continue in force. This was not the way to get a proper conversation restarted.

  154. Eh, I don't think most of the crowd here were taking the tack that he was a hero; more of a useful idiot. As I bloviated at length above, I think he's a worse-than-useless idiot, because lo and behold, subject closed with Rand's stupid hypothetical resolved, and substantive objections to executive power left entirely unaddressed.

  155. ... Just to add, I'm not holding my breath, given that the likeliehood of the "right sort of white people" being affected while eating their morning pancakes approaches zero.

  156. "Sink all punchlines and payoffs to one common pool! and since neither
    can be mine, let me then tow to pieces, while still chasing thee and so
    on and so forth."

    So, basically, you're calling me a Dick? ... It's a fair cop.

  157. Fiddlin' Bill4:08 PM

    "I blame Eric Holder for lamely running his mouth. When he was asked by
    Ted Cruz whether it would be constitutional to take out an American
    citizen on American soil with a drone, he should have said "No", and
    then shut up. Why in God's name would the police or the FBI use a drone,
    with the attendant risk of egregious collateral damage, when they
    already have the authority (thanks to the Patriot Act, which has pretty
    much nullified the Bill of Rights), the guns, and the manpower to
    operate with virtual impunity within the country's borders." --Satch below

    What then, is the point of Rand Paul's waste of taxpayer time and money? He's just grandstanding, as usual.

  158. Well, for one thing Pakistan is still nominally our ally. For another, the status of Yemen's government is irrelevant, as we have not declared war on them.

  159. Because if Holder says it's constitutional to kill Americans on American soil, then this needs to be debated and not just ignored! Why do you think?

  160. trizzlor4:11 PM

    Did we have to declare war on Britain or France to conduct military operations in those countries?

  161. They should not have been killed at all. You've gotten so used to the idea that the US can just go anywhere and grab anybody it perceives as a threat to itself or its interests that it is easy to think of due process as a privilege associated with--well, merely being American I guess. This assumption is beyond the reach of debate except that even this is too liberal and we must be even more parsimonious: having established that dirty brown terrorists foreigners only need to be summarily blown off the face of the earth it now appears to us that some Americans deserve no better. When you lose the capacity to distinguish between the meaning of rights and the meaning of privileges this is where you end up. Once that distinction is conceded then, yeah, the difference between killing with drones and killing with piloted aircraft is just sentimental,window-dressing. I do not concede the distinction, however. I think the fear that supposedly justifies it is a species of insanity, and I don't care who the enemy is.

  162. Are you talking about WWII? Yes, we had declared war on the Axis powers, and the Axis powers were occupying France at the time. As far as conducting military operations in Britain, I'm not sure what you mean. Did we attack Britain in WWII?

  163. trizzlor4:15 PM

    Right, so we carried out military operations within France, our ally, because it was occupied. If Britain had okay'ed a military strike against enemies within their borders - as Yemen has - would we have had to declare war on Britain to carry out the strike?

  164. You're talking about a declaration of war that changes according to the actions of your enemy, the Axis powers. I'm talking about a declaration of war against a non-state terrorist group, which by definition could be almost anywhere. Such a definition of "declaration of war" is so flexible as to be meaningless, a legal right to attack anyone anywhere. If the AUMF really authorizes drone strikes in Yemen, Mali, Somalia, & Pakistan then it seems to me there are no practical limits to it, as long as some Jihadist group can be found somewhere in the nation you wish to attack.

  165. Well, what makes you so sure Americans *wont* get killed by hellfire missiles? Right now, under Obama, it does seem unlikely. But what if we get a real shithead president sometime down the line? And what if some serious unrest develops in the cities, or in rural areas? How are you supposed to respond to a US official saying that Americans could be legally assassinated by executive order, except to think that's what he thinks?

  166. Spaghetti Lee4:41 PM

    Uh, yes. That's why I spent half my post saying that Obama can't do much because the other institutions of government are being so useless. I'm on your side here. FDR and LBJ had majorities in congress that are unimaginable today, and anyone saying how great they were needs to take that into account. I think there's too much emphasis on the powers of the president overall, and liberals fall victim to it too. It's at the core of every argument about how Obama hasn't made things better because he's morally weak or compromised, completely ignoring that the institutions that actually write laws and interpret laws are playgrounds for right-wing shitheads.

  167. XeckyGilchrist4:52 PM

    OK. Fair enough, "never was a hero" is more the sort of thing I was hoping for anyway.

  168. Pakistan is still nominally our ally

    Interestingly, until December 0f 2011, drones were being operated out of Shamsi air base in Pakistan, a facility nominally 'leased' to the United Arab Emirates (for falconry, if you can believe it), who then entered into an agreement with the USA. Of course the personnel arming and maintaining the drones were all 'contractors' so the fiction could be maintained that no members of the US armed forces were operating out of Pakistan proper. After two (IIRC) incidents where Pakistani personnel were targeted and killed, the US was told to leave. I can't help but wonder how many of Pakistan's ISI operatives have died in the tribal areas because they were in the company of their Taliban clients when the Hellfire hit.

  169. Spaghetti Lee4:57 PM

    On a similar note, I'm anti-war. Iraq made me very suspicious of any war of choice, no matter how just the cause is. The fact that any modern war will result in the various vermin in the DOD and the weapons industry getting rich off it makes me wonder if any war is a just war.

    That said, if for some reason the government doesn't stop and listen to me personally and goes to war anyway, I don't see the hypocrisy in supporting the use of weapons that cause the least damage, which I think drone strikes do, compared to on-the-ground invasions. The moral decision is whether to go to war or not. Once that decision is made, I think the decision about what weapons to use is secondary. I don't like sounding glib, but there were probably people who thought tanks were unprecedented, that soldiers should be on foot if they were going to go to war at all.

  170. I'm only calling you a Dick inasmuch as I was kinda hoping to be the guy with the cool peg-leg in this particular pas-de-dunces, but hey - I'm flexible.

  171. Spaghetti Lee5:10 PM

    What makes these discussions frustrating for me is that I think we all pretty much agree that drone strikes by themselves are not a good thing. None of us wake up and read about them and cheer with joy. Speaking for myself, if they ended tomorrow I'd be overjoyed, and I'm sure a lot of you would. The problem comes from what priority to place on them.

    Speaking as one of those people who tends to give Obama the benefit of the doubt on a lot of things, I'd like to at least try to make an overture with those who don't. I get the feeling that some of the latter group feels that they're being pressured to fall in line by people who happen to share some of their ideals, but have control-freak personalities and try to tramp out dissent. That's impression I get when I see sarcastic 'go team'-type responses and claims that Obama supporters are just thugs who vote D instead of R.

    Speaking for myself, I feel no need to bully people into agreeing with me just because it would soothe my ego. I'm personally coming from a place of fear-the Republicans are insane, if they got complete power they'd do terrible things, and the coalition keeping them out of power is barely enough to eke out a majority. This makes people like me very neurotic about going around and making sure that coalition isn't breaking. I agree with quite a few of Obama's left-wing critics on principle, but the political path of the country is determined by who gets the most votes, not who has the best principles. And if a principled opposition splits the Democratic party enough to allow a Republican to win, that's a disaster. And yes, the Republicans are worse than the Democrats. I'm not even going to listen to other thoughts on that. People who seriously claim there would be no difference between an Obama presidency and a Romney presidency are delusional.

    So, where I am is that I've more than once kept quiet about policies I think are wrong, and have felt disgusted with myself over it, because I think it's not worth risking a crack-up over. I don't know what else to do, though. I'd really love it if everyone could just freely vote their conscience without risking giving power to the guys they loathe rather than the guys they merely dislike, but that's how the system's set up.


  172. Spaghetti Lee5:16 PM

    I don't think such an act would be justified on its own-two wrongs don't make a right and all that-but obviously I can't say we're justified in doing it to them but them not to us.

    I don't know what 'cocksure bloodlust' in this particular thread you're addressing, though. People seem to be mostly on your side and those who aren't are on the defensive. What annoys me about these arguments is that no one really thinks drone strikes are good and righteous on their own, and nobody thinks they're without risk. Some people think they're an acceptable use of military power and some don't, but no one's cheering and whooping it up with each new death.

  173. trizzlor5:20 PM

    "I'm talking about a declaration of war against a non-state terrorist group, which by definition could be almost anywhere."

    Any enemy can be almost anywhere! Your criticism is completely at odds with the standard laws of war that have been in place for decades. Japanese soldiers can enter and occupy China, Nazi spies can run operations out of North Africa, without a uniform, even! Go read the WW2 declarations they're shorter than the the AUMF. Do they explicitly mention the China/Burma/India theaters? Do they explicitly mention the North African campaign? Did we have to declare war on those nations, go through Congress, have trials, in order to engage our military in those countries?

    Who decided to extend the battlefield? The military and the executive, just as they do now. What restrictions were there on military operations? Those imposed by the Hague and Geneva conventions, just as they are enforced now. Who decided weather an enemy was a Nazi spy or just a German tourist? Again, the military and the executive, just as they decide now that al-Waliki is operationally involved and not just sightseeing. What oversight is there on these decisions? Internal military regs, congressional committee members with clearance, and post-hoc judicial review in the US or International courts, just as today.

    What, precisely, has changed now that most of our enemies don't wear uniforms rather than just some of our enemies? Can you point to specific incidents where our military engagement in Yemen of Pakistan has violated war conventions?

  174. aimai5:28 PM

    That's wrong: Regan was opposed to national registration when CARTER proposed it but continued to institute it because of the "Soviet Threat" when he became President. In other words: identical to Rand. Reagan was lying and disingenous and made any argument to attack Carter/the dems whether from the left or right and so will Rand. Seeing their public stances in a conflict with their ideological enemies doesn't tell you what they will do once such a person is in power because their opposition to X is opportunistic. They oppose it when they think it will hurt their opponent or their oppoenent's positions, they may quite well be for it when it suits their own positions when they are in power.

  175. It would be interesting to know exactly how close is the integration between the ISI and "The Taliban", wouldn't it? I try to content myself with just arguing the counterproductive nature of the drone strikes.

  176. aimai5:31 PM

    What makes you think that the US government doesn't think that? Did I miss the memo where the Secret Service doesn't, in fact, attempt to protect the President and the First Lady et al from all kinds of terrorist/foreign and domestic attacks? Do you think they employ all those people and all those strategems because they are worried about another Hinkley and not, say a foreign government?

  177. aimai5:39 PM

    I just don't understand this line of argument--who says its ok/not ok? What does that even mean? Its not legal under international law but its certainly feasible and in that sense someone thinks its "Ok" and, by the same token, the fact that someone else thinks its not "ok" isn't dispositive.

    Obviously other countries might well like to assassinate our congressmen (I know I concur for at least a few of them). If they don't do youthink its because of some kind of "respect for the laws of war" or do you think its just because of respect for the existence of force majeure? I suspect the latter. Yes: its ok for other countries to kill our congressmen if they can manage to do so. Al Quaeda managed to kill 3000 citizens and non citizens. No one "told them it wasn't ok." It was ok in the sense that it was feasible. They went ahead and did it. Non state actors might well try to kill our congressmen and they will absolutely think themselves in the right to do so---so?

    I would like to add, parenthetically, that the god damned Israelis killed Rachel Corrie. States kill people all the fucking time and no one says boo to them about it.

  178. aimai5:43 PM

    We might take a leaf from right wing attacks on the government and the FBI and Napolitano--instead of sticking up for everyone (Nazis, right wingers, and hippies and occupiers) we should only stick up for our own side. The right wing has been extremely successful at shutting down government surveillance and attacks on their own crazies and consistently redirected attention to greenpeace, the left, occupy, minority communities. Meanwhile the ACLU, because it insists on being evenhanded, gets basically no where. I rather admire the utilitarian assholishness of the Rand argument which is: "don't tread on me. Kill as many of the wrong kind of people that you want." It recognizes the fundamental fact of a state--any state--that its function is to protect some people (insiders, citizens) against other people (outsiders/non citizens). Rand and his type explicitly want to seize control of the state in order to facilitate the wealth and happiness of "their kind" of insider/citizen and they are willing to see others killed or defenestrated or de-citizend. I only wish Obama were as ruthless with his/my/our enemies on the right in this country.

  179. wileywitch5:53 PM

    You have no idea what I have gotten used to and no business telling me what I have. I opposed the invasion of Afghanistan. I opposed the Iraq War and sent letters petitioning China, Russia, and France to veto our resolution to attack Iraq.

    One of the reasons the U.S. gets away with so much murder, is that the Security Council doesn't oppose us, because those countries want to exercise their own imperial ambitions. I'd like to see the Security Council dissolved and the U.N. made democratic.

    Our military action and its crusade mentality has created more terrorists who would like to hurt the U.S. out of quite understandable grievance. But our government, nevertheless, should not let them. Our government should do much more diplomatically with our allies, apologize for our past actions and any current actions that hurt non-combatants, and help nations with terrorist populations that their majority doesn't want.

    There is a reason that international terrorist organizations are organizing and training in impoverished and isolated areas like Northern Afghanistan, Southern Afghanistan, and the outback in Yemen. The people of those nations don't want them. Violent extremism isn't popular in the Mid-East, Asia, South America, or anywhere else.

    If we could have handled Afghanistan without launching a ground war and without killing so many civilians, then the U.S., NATO, the U.N., the relief organizations, and regional trade organizations might have been able to push the Taliban back and strengthened the secular institutions and policing forces in Afghanistan for the good of most of the people there.

    I'm not an idealist about what we could do to use our military sparingly for the good, but I don't have a Manichean view of the U.S. as basically evil and therefore incapable of ever doing good. The fact that I'm not a crusader doesn't make me a racist, nationalist, war-monger. And just like ( as someone mention here before) our FBI and ATBF have learned from mistakes in the handling of Ruby Ridge and David Koresh, our policing bodies can also learn to reign themselves in and be more beneficial. We may have learned some things from our part in the Biosnia/Serbia conflict.

  180. That's a good point Aimai. I don't mean the government so much as I mean the American populace, who actually don't seem to realize that drones are a worldwide technology.

  181. OK, trizzlor, I'll read the AUMF's for both wars and compare.

  182. wileywitch6:01 PM

    Fair enough.

  183. Did Winston Churchill carry out long-term bombing campaigns on nations that Britain was not at war with, and contained no Axis forces? Because I don't remember that sort of thing from reading about WWII. That, it seems to me, is the new factor here.

  184. wileywitch6:09 PM

    Actually, the idea was that school children all wearing the same uniforms would lower the negative impact of social/economic class disparity. It wasn't well-supported study-wise, and perhaps did not take into account the virulence of children delineating themselves and each other by economic class in junior and high school.

  185. Good points Spaghetti. I hope, and think, that there are ways for folks to talk about these issues without attacking each other. I do sometimes wonder if warfare, by its nature, is a topic that can be difficult to discuss.

  186. wileywitch6:16 PM

    Also, Republicans have been consistently working to gain power at every level of government and the P.T.A. for forty years. The problem with that is that liberals haven't been. I think we could be much more effective without doing so in as aggressive and obsessive manner. And they vote in every election.

    I was not consistent about voting or even following issues at times in my youth, and that is something I honestly regret. It feels a little hypocritical for me to criticize young people for not voting, having done my part to allow conservatives take over and shape our national discourse; but I am sorry I didn't vote, and the stakes are fucking crazy right now, especially in State legislatures.

  187. wileywitch6:17 PM

    Private citizens--- Occupy protesters--- used drones to spy on the police too.

  188. wileywitch6:30 PM

    What beside the invasion and occupation of Iraq is illegal?

  189. Leeds man6:44 PM

    Iraq 1920. Britain had a League of Nations mandate. Churchill was Colonial Secretary.

  190. Interesting. More evidence that the war in Yemen is best described as colonialism.

  191. Cargo7:40 PM

    I long for the day when Americans realize that they are but one country on the earth among all the others. England learned that lesson over two wars, a depression, and about fifty years of hardship. America will learn that lesson too, but I don't think they will learn as quickly as England did. It's going to be much, much more painful.

  192. Big_Bad_Bald_Bastard8:49 PM

    I'd be more inclined to trust Baby Doc Paul's stance on civil liberties if he had intervened while his Tea Tea Macoutes were stomping some young lady. Paul's a "stopped clock", right about this, but still an untrustworthy troll.

  193. Big_Bad_Bald_Bastard8:58 PM

    Ah, that's the problem with producing cheap death machines and lowering the bar for killing people... the evil djinni never seems to want to go back in the bottle.

  194. Big_Bad_Bald_Bastard9:00 PM

    Shorter Pauls: Liberty, NOT FOR CHIX!!!

  195. Big_Bad_Bald_Bastard9:04 PM

    I don't know if I'd be happy with losing the moral high ground, even if the media doesn't recognize that we have it. Sure, it would be nice to see some partisan "coup counting" once in a while, but I'd rather not sink to the level of the righties. Hopefully, this trend of eating their own will continue.

  196. Big_Bad_Bald_Bastard9:16 PM

    The ends justify the means, and the end is the increase of their personal power. It's lying for the lord extended to secular endeavors. Oddly enough, the righties get really upset when muslims do it.

  197. Actually, you're all fucked (americans, I mean) for eternity because of your election system,