March 9, 2013
After the filibuster spectacle on Capitol Hill by Senator Rand Paul, Attorney General Eric Holder wrote another letter wherein he retracted his original statement concerning Obama’s legality to use drones in targeted assassination of American citizens on US soil. Holder said: “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.”
[Sen. Paul did vote against confirming John Brennan as Director of Central Intelligence – see the entire senate vote here.]
… On a broadcast on FoxNews, Paul said that Holder explained that the President does not have the right to kill unarmed and non-combative Americans on American soil.
Paul claimed a victory with this “answer”; however it is glossed over in the mainstream media that the response from Holder did not clarify who is a combatant.
Based on the National Defense Authorization Act, anyone can be suspected of being a combatant by having alleged ties to a terrorist group.
Just recently, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) have said that constitutionalists and anti-government groups are extremists and liken to being terrorist organizations.
While both the mainstream and alternative media were focused on the dog-and-pony show conducted by Paul and Holder regarding drones, the House of Representatives approved a bill that would grant funding to the federal government through September of 2013 while a supposed major budget cut is running rampant, stifling the economic stance of the US government.
House Representative Harold Rogers [R-KY], head of the Appropriations Committee introduced this resolution to the tune of $982 billion (just shy of 1 trillion dollars) to avoid a near complete governmental shutdown at the end of this month.The very same day of Paul’s 13 hour filibuster, the House secured funding for the federal government at the expense of taxpayers and under cover of a 13 hour distraction.
While the rest of the country faces sequestering measures, the US Military Industrial Complex will be well funded to conduct their business.
The Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Planned Parenthood would continue to remain funded with that nearly $1 trillion appropriated by the House resolution.
Tamara Keith of NPR explains: “Democrats and the White House have made it clear they don’t like this bill because it locks in across-the-board spending cuts and only gives additional budget flexibility to the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments. Senate leaders say they plan to make changes to allow other agencies more flexibility as well. But they aren’t planning to undo the sequester cuts, which means a fight that would threaten a government shutdown is unlikely.”
John Brennan, the Assassination Czar, was sworn in this week as the new director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) by Vice President Joe Biden. The Obama camp made a special note that Brennan took his oath of office over “an original draft of the Constitution that had George Washington’s personal handwriting and annotations on it, dating from 1787.”
The symbolic tone surrounding the document Brennan swore allegiance to was the version of the Constitution prior to the inclusion of the Bill of Rights; “which did not officially go into effect until December 1791 after ratification by states.”
The statement here is that Brennan swore to uphold the rights of Americans except their freedom of speech, right to bear arms and right to not have to be subjected to unreasonable searches and seizures.
Considering Brennan’s history with drones and their current application by the DHS of drones to be used as surveillance tools on unsuspecting Americans, the ceremony is fitting.
DHS have secured unmanned aerial vehicles that are equipped to conduct surveillance, intercept cellular communications and determine if the human target is armed.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has obtained performance specification documents through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that confirm “the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection is operating drones in the United States capable of intercepting electronic communications.”
The documents also confirm that the drones “have the capacity to recognize and identify a person on the ground.” DHS drones were designed to “be capable of identifying a standing human being at night as likely armed or not” and “be capable of marking a target into a retrievable database.”
Alan Gottlieb, founder and vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) responded to the DHS drone capabilities: “I am very concerned that this technology will be used against law-abiding American firearms owners. This could violate Fourth Amendment rights as well as Second Amendment rights.”
The California Assembly, specifically members Jeff Gorell and Steven Bradford, have collaborated to restrict the use of drones by the local police and state officials.
Gorell and Bradford have introduced AB 1327 which states emphatically that the law enforcement utilizing drones for surveillance must have obtained a warrant prior to deployment of unmanned aerial vehicles.
The bill states:
(b) A law enforcement agency may use an unmanned aircraft system, or contract for the use of an unmanned aircraft system, if it has a reasonable expectation that the unmanned aircraft system will collect evidence relating to criminal activity and if it has obtained a warrant based on probable cause pursuant to this code.
(c) A law enforcement agency, without obtaining a warrant, may use an unmanned aircraft system, or contract for the use of an unmanned aircraft system, in emergency situations, including, but not limited to, fires, hostage crises, and search and rescue operations on land or water.
Should a private person choose to use a drone for surveillance, they will be “subject to Section 14350 or a person or entity under contract to a public agency, for the purpose of that contract, shall not use an unmanned aircraft system, or contract for the use of an unmanned aircraft system, for the purpose of surveillance of another person without that person’s consent.”
While the reality and potential of drones flying in US skies is becoming part of a national debate, the US Air Force have suddenly stopped posting statistics on drone strikes in the Middle East, specifically Afghanistan.
Statistics from last month conveniently went missing when the total analysis was published for the public to see.
Both the Pentagon and Air Force Central Command declined to publically comment on the change. However this change coincided with Paul’s filibuster of Brennan over Holder’s comments that the President could strike American citizens with “lethal force” (using drones) on US soil.
Editor’s note – Rand Paul authored an op ed piece entitled “My filibuster was just the beginning” on March 8. In this piece he wrote, “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 [bold italics added]. The Constitution’s Fifth Amendment applies to all Americans; there are no exceptions.” By writing this Sen. Paul was conceding that some US citizens may be declared combatants or enemy combatants. There is no constitutional basis to declare US citizens “combatants” or enemy combatants since there is no constitutional basis for war. War may only be declared by Congress under Article I section 8 clause 11 – the “War on Terror” is illegal and a hoax. Furthermore if the USA was involved in a legal war, i.e., if Congress did declare war against a nation or nations and US citizens aligned with enemy nations against the US, those so accused would still be guaranteed a right to an open trial under Article III section 3 clause 1.