Here, you are urged and encouraged to run your mouths about something important.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Eric Holder to Rand Paul: We reserve the right to kill Americans on U.S. Soil

A letter from Attorney General Eric Holder to Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) comes on the same day that the Senate Intelligence Committee approved John Brennan's nomination for CIA Director. Paul has been threatening to delay a full Senate vote until Brennan would unequivocally state that Drones could not be used to target Americans on U.S. soil.

Brennan hasn't answered Paul's question but Holder has.

Via Washington Examiner:
Attorney General Eric Holder can imagine a scenario in which it would be constitutional to carry out a drone strike against an American on American soil, he wrote in a letter to Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.

“It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States,” Holder replied in a letter yesterday to Paul’s question about whether Obama “has the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, and without trial.”

Paul condemned the idea. “The U.S. Attorney General’s refusal to rule out the possibility of drone strikes on American citizens and on American soil is more than frightening – it is an affront the Constitutional due process rights of all Americans,” he said in a statement.
Once again, threats by Republican Senators to filibuster nominations appear to be empty because there is no united front when it comes to doing so.

Via the L.A. Times:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he wants the full Senate to consider the nomination by week’s end.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) vowed to delay the vote until the White House assures him it does not have authority to conduct a targeted killing of an American within the United States. But Paul acknowledged he probably cannot find enough senators to support a filibuster, which requires 41 votes.
It appears that Paul has gotten his answer via Holder but despite it being the wrong one, Brennan just got one step closer to becoming the new CIA Director.

Will Confirmation of John Brennan as CIA Director reveal an even weaker Senate?

There is a mainstream line of thought that says John Brennan's confirmation as CIA Director will go smoother than that of Chuck Hagel, who was recently confirmed as Secretary of Defense. Hagel was able to clear the necessary hurdles despite an embarrassing performance at his hearing and a string of past statements that indicated an anti-Israel bias at best and and anti-Semitic streak at worst.

However, unlike Brennan, Hagel didn't hold a high-ranking position inside the Obama administration during the Benghazi attacks. As of yet, we still don't have enough answers when it comes to the administration's response and / or Brennan's involvement. Though we do know that Brennan was involved in altering U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice's talking points. For some reason, it's being all but dismissed as relevant.

As Foreign Policy points out, one of the reasons a vote on Brennan's confirmation did not take place on the scheduled date of February 28th was because of unanswered questions surrounding the Benghazi attacks.
On Sunday, fellow amigos John McCain and Lindsey Graham took to CBS's Face the Nation to renew their months-long quest for more information on the terrorist attack in Benghazi -- and to threaten delays for Brennan's confirmation. One of the key sticking points has been the altered talking points provided to U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice before she went on a range of Sunday talk shows to discuss the attacks.
Again, we received confirmation last week that emails provided to the Senate Intelligence Committee showed that Brenann was involved in altering those talking points.

If you are in the camp of those who believe promotions should be given based on good performance and openness relative to questionable performances, then the Senate should exercise its authority in preventing Brennan's confirmation until it gets the answers its entitled to. Unfortunately, such a reality is belied by a Democratically-controlled Senate that doesn't seem interested and a Republican minority that doesn't have enough collective will - as we saw with the nomination of Hagel.

Nonetheless, McCain, Graham, and Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) issued a statement outlining what is known and what is not known about the Benghazi attacks. The statement highlights why there should be far more interest in getting more information about Brennan, relative to those attacks, before moving forward with any confirmation.

Read that statement here.

If the Hagel nomination is any indication, such a statement will not be backed up by a united Republican front that will prevent Brennan's nomination from going through until such questions are answered. It truly will be astounding if the issues raised in the aforementioned statement are not addressed before Brennan is confirmed.

Another point of resistance to Brennan's confirmation comes from Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), who is virtually apoplectic in response to Brennan's refusal to answer a "yes" or "no" question about whether Drones could or should be used to target Americans on U.S. soil.

Via FP:
The administration's targeted killing program via drone strikes remains a sticking point for Sen. Rand Paul. The Kentucky lawmaker says a simple "yes" or "no" answer on whether the White House can authorize a drone strike against an American in the United States would satisfy him.
A couple of areas that are being ignored by these Senators are the claims made by former FBI Agent John Guandolo and the authors of a book entitled that singles out Brennan as being the primary player in an operation that served to kick the hornets nest that led to the Benghazi attacks. Guandolo claims to have sources who witnessed Brennan to convert to Islam while stationed in Saudi Arabia.

If authors Jack Murphy and Brandon Webb are correct about Brennan's lead command role in a covert operation that involved weapons raids that took place without the knowledge of CIA Director Petraeus or Ambassador Stevens, it is the responsibility of both Republican and Democratic Senators to vet those claims. Ditto for the claims of Guandolo.

Unfortunately, Congress seems to be ceding its power to the Executive Branch on a near daily basis.

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