The Bush Administration Answered Rand Paul’s Question About Killing Americans On US Soil

Business Insider

Rand  Paul filibustered the Senate confirmation vote of CIA Director nominee John  Brennan for nearly  13 hours to get the White House to answer one question: “Do you  believe that the president has the power to authorize lethal force, such as a  drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil and without trial?”

The Republican Senator from Kentucky said “it should have been an easy answer  … It should have been a resounding and unequivocal, ‘No,'” Paul said. “The  president’s response? He hasn’t killed anyone yet. We’re supposed to be  comforted by that.”

The  Obama administration’s initial response to Paul left  open the possibility of a lethal military strike on Americans in  America.

An Executive Branch legal memo from the Bush administration, however, goes as far as to argue that the answer is yes.

The  October 2001 memo from John Yoo, the Assistant U.S. Attorney General in the  Office of Legal Counsel from 2001 to 2003, pertains to  “the authority for the use of military force to prevent or deter terrorist activity inside the United  States.”

The advice given is immensely relevant to Wednesday’s filibuster because  Paul’s question is not whether the president has used lethal force against  Americans in America but whether the president believes he has the authority at  all.

The Bush White House asked Yoo’s office about a law Paul brought up  repeatedly on Wednesday: the Posse  Comitatus Act of 1878 (PCA), which was passed to prevent U.S. military  personnel from acting as law enforcement agents.

The response was that the PCA “does not apply to, and does not prohibit, a  Presidential decision to deploy the Armed Forces domestically for military  purposes.”

The memo acknowledges that the said military operations, “taken as they  may be on United States soil, and involving as they might American citizens,  raise novel and difficult questions of constitutional law.”

Nevertheless Yoo’s office, which also wrote the infamous  “torture  memos,” argues that “Article II of the Constitution, which vests the  President with the power to respond to emergency threats to the national  security, directly authorizes use of the Armed Forces  in domestic operations against terrorists.”

As for what constitutes a “terrorist,” the most informational answer is  an interesting one:

“Like terrorists generally, Al-Qaeda’s forces bear no distinctive  uniform, do not carry arms openly, and do not represent the regular or even  irregular military personnel of any nation.”

The memo cites precedents of U.S. presidents invokingArticle II power against “terrorists” in America, specifically  the Whiskey Rebellion, the War of 1812, the Civil War, and conflicts with “Indian tribes and  bands.”

It further argues, as does Holder’s  letter to Paul, that the attacks of 9/11 demonstrate “that in this current  conflict the war front and the home front cannot be so clearly distinguished — the terrorist attacks were launched from within the United States against  civilian targets within the United States.”

After several pages of arguments citing the “text, structure, and history of the Constitution,” Yoo’s office concludes that “the President has both constitutional  and statutory authority to use the armed forces in military  operations, against terrorists, within the United States.”

Paul’s  determination to get Obama to answer this question is even more  significant in light the Bush administration’s controversial response,  especially since the  current president has extended  most of the Bush administration’s policies.

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7 thoughts on “The Bush Administration Answered Rand Paul’s Question About Killing Americans On US Soil

  1. Oh great more of the Bush did it before me shit! And who the hell amongst us ever Stated that Bush or any of the Bush’s were commendable leaders! They were frot with errors and idiotic mistakes just as those that have followed them! From Bush #1 to this bastard have not been that of superstars! And be careful there is one lurking that is interested in running Jeb! I have lived under his idiotic rules in Florida and he sucked as Governor!

  2. It doesn’t matter what this fraudulent admin says. They will still use drones as they desire, even if they put something in writing to the contrary. The meaning of “engaged in combat” will be twisted to justify their use. Remember Bill Clinton arguing the meaning of “is?” They may simply use a remote controlled device with a gun on it that is not referred to as a “drone” in order to be in compliance. Instead it will likely be called a piece of “police” equipment… perhaps something like Civil Unrest Neutralization Technology, or “CUNT.”

  3. Well, we’ve also had Ruby Ridge and Waco which are surely long forgotten. And those were pre-9/11.

    • Ruby Ridge was the first Bush and Waco was Clinton and both were screw ups.

      • Yea, I remember Janet Reno. So there is some precedent to worry about. They didn’t have drones w/ hellfires, I have little doubt they would have considered them.

  4. OOoo, I do remember Waco and Ruby Ridge.

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