February 28, 2013

“Rand Paul To CIA: ‘Can You Kill With Drones In The USA?'”

I wrote yesterday, to the dismay of some whom I admire (notably, dicentra, Bill Quick, sdferr, and a few others), that Rand Paul’s “yes” vote on the Hagel nomination — coming as it did on the heels of his having excoriated the phony posturing by Senate Republican Quislings like John McCain, who refused to block the vote, knowing that the result would be a Hagel confirmation, who then put on record a “no” vote that was, in fact, more a “yes” vote than was Rand Paul’s actual yes vote, which did nothing to affect the outcome.

What it did do, I postulated, is set up a scenario in which Paul will now go after John Brennan — having shown “deference” to the President on one appointment who was going to be confirmed anyway as a way to protect himself against charges that he’s a knee-jerk opponent to any political appointee put up by Obama.

I also noted that his yes vote probably won him over some support from the Ron Paul contingent, which signaled to me that the younger Paul is almost certainly angling for a 2016 GOP presidential nomination, and that he is relying both on the conservative base and the libertarians who have proven themselves so adept at working the delegate system to help him defeat the GOP establishment challenger.

Despite his attractiveness as a candidate (bringing the still-dubious promise of winning both Florida and a greater share of the Hispanic vote) Rubio’s immigration stance and coziness with the Bushes will give many conservatives pause.  And if the Rove team backs him — with, say, Chris Christie as a running mate — his stock will drop even further.

Rand Paul, I believe, knows this.  And so he is betting that his willingness to go hard after Brennan will be remembered far more than his inconsequential yes vote on Hagel.

That having been said, Paul’s strategy for tackling Brennan is beginning to come to light, and it is nothing if not aggressive.  As he did by forcing a vote on giving advanced weaponry to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Paul is intending to get Senators of both parties on record in order to disrupt business as usual in the Senate.  Here, he promises more of the same. Via Zerohedge (emphasis in their text):

February 20, 2013

John O. Brennan

Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. Brennan,

In consideration of your nomination to be Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), I have repeatedly requested that you provide answers to several questions clarifying your role in the approval of lethal force against terrorism suspects, particularly those who are U.S. citizens. Your past actions in this regard, as well as your view of the limitations to which you are subject, are of critical importance in assessing your qualifications to lead the CIA. If it is not clear that you will honor the limits placed upon the Executive Branch by the Constitution, then the Senate should not confirm you to lead the CIA.

During your confirmation process in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), committee members have quite appropriately made requests similar to questions I raised in my previous letter to you-that you expound on your views on the limits of executive power in using lethal force against U.S. citizens, especially when operating on U.S. soil. In fact, the Chairman of the SSCI, Sen. Feinstein, specifically asked you in post-hearing questions for the record whether the Administration could carry out drone strikes inside the United States. In your response, you emphasized that the Administration “has not carried out” such strikes and “has no intention of doing so.” I do not find this response sufficient.

The question that I and many others have asked is not whether the Administration has or intends to carry out drone strikes inside the United States, but whether it believes it has the authority to do so. This is an important distinction that should not be ignored.

Just last week, President Obama also avoided this question when posed to him directly. Instead of addressing the question of whether the Administration could kill a U.S. citizen on American soil, he used a similar line that “there has never been a drone used on an American citizen on American soil.” The evasive replies to this valid question from the Administration have only confused the issue further without getting us any closer to an actual answer.

For that reason, I once again request you answer the following 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?

I believe the only acceptable answer to this is no.

Until you directly and clearly answer, I plan to use every procedural option at my disposal to delay your confirmation and bring added scrutiny to this issue and the Administration’s policies on the use of lethal force. The American people are rightfully concerned, and they deserve a frank and open discussion on these policies.

Rand Paul, M.D.

United States Senator

Attached to Paul’s overriding question is a whole host of additional questions arising from the centerpiece of his concern: why are we approving more and more in-country drone flights, or allowing law enforcement access to military technology?

Paul, a staunch 2nd-Amendment supporter and strong federalist, will I believe build at least that part of his campaign that doesn’t speak clearly, passionately, and effectively to the fiscal irresponsibility of DC, around the idea of a federal government that has become so big and so pervasive that it can’t help but consistently trample on individual rights and blunt individual autonomy.

And as a conservative and not a GOP party apparatchik — that is, a true TEA Party candidate — he will be able to speak to the failures of both parties inside the Beltway, having become a permanent ruling elite in direct contradiction to the very ideals upon which this nation was founded.

Paul is himself a citizen legislator. The GOP ridiculously tried to paint Mitt Romney as a DC outsider when it was clear to nearly everyone he was a big government technocrat — which is precisely why he won the support of the Party establishment (though truth be told, I don’t think they much cared if he lost, because their plan was to float Jeb Bush and Chris Christie and Marco Rubio as 2016 frontrunners, knowing that after 8 years of Democrat control of the executive, the electorate would likely vote for a change).

Personally, my first choice would be someone like Scott Walker or even Sarah Palin, both who have experience as governors, but I will say this: if Paul continues to act as a thorn in the side of both progressives and the GOP establishment, I’d happily support his candidacy, if only because should he win he’d have an actual mandate to change the course of the entire nature of federal governance.

Add Ted Cruz to the ticket, and I think we’d see the strongest GOP ticket since Reagan — at least, as far as a fidelity to constitutional conservatism / classical liberalism is concerned.

(h/t JHo)

Posted by Jeff G. @ 11:30am

Comments (63)

  1. Answers like that used to be called “nondenial denials”.

  2. ” And so he is betting that his willingness to go hard after Brennan will be remembered far more than his inconsequential yes vote on Hagel.”

    That was about what I was thinking of the matter, only I give Paul a little more credit. Hagel is inconsequential – stopping him wouldn’t have resulting in any net improvement.

    Holding up Brennan to establish a bright line over drone strikes very much is.

  3. I don’t think Cruz is eligible.

  4. Cruz is absolutely eligible.

  5. http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42097.pdf

    The weight of legal and historical authority indicates that the term “natural born” citizen would mean a person who is entitled to U.S. citizenship “by birth” or “at birth,” either by being born “in” the United States and under its jurisdiction, even those born to alien parents; by being born abroad to U.S. citizen-parents; or by being born in other situations meeting legal requirements for U.S. citizenship “at birth.” Such term, however, would not include a person who was not a U.S. citizen by birth or at birth, and who was thus born an “alien” required to go through the legal process of “naturalization” to become a U.S. citizen.

  6. I squat corrected.

  7. Did I hear Rand Paul say on Glenn Beck this morning that he didn’t work harder to oppose Hagel because he was not presented with any concrete, damning evidence such as monetary support of terrorism?

    And is it not true that Hagel refused to produce the documents that would either condemn or exonerate him?

    How does that equal a clean (or semi-clean) bill of health?

  8. And yes, people like McCain and Graham who postured mightily but folded, as they’d planned from the beginning, are far more execrable than Paul.

  9. How does that equal a clean (or semi-clean) bill of health?

    Given that it involves someone of Obama’s direct choosing there is no way it ever could. But, in the absence of clear and specific condemnatory evidence any President should be given wide latitude in staffing his cabinet.

    Bambi wanted an idiot and he got his idiot.

  10. Ted Cruz was born in Canada, Spies.

  11. But, in the absence of clear and specific condemnatory evidence any President should be given wide latitude in staffing his cabinet.

    At this point, being nominated by Obama is plenty condemnatory.

  12. I think the fact his parents were U.S. citizens makes him “natural born” — however the “born in the U.S.” part, though it’s been interpreted pretty loosely, probably doesn’t include Cruz’s circumstances.

    So, no — not eligible.

  13. I was unaware that his parents were US citizens. I was thinking they were Cuban refugees who settled in Canada.

    But, yes I concur that he isn’t eligible.

  14. “Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where his parents, Eleanor Darragh and Rafael Cruz, were working in the oil business.[7][8] His father was a Cuban immigrant to the United States during the Cuban Revolution.[9] His mother, an American, was reared in Delaware, in a family of Irish and Italian descent.[8][10] Cruz’s family returned to the U.S. when he was four years old.[9]”

    This is from wikipedia, which I never use, but came up conveniently in Search results.

    To my mind this makes him at least as eligible as Teh Won, if not more so.

  15. probably doesn’t include Cruz’s circumstances.

    so if your parents are us military and you are born in a taxi in munich that makes you ineligible?

  16. Ted Cruz’s parents weren’t military.

  17. US Military bases and outposts are considered to be de facto US soil.

    And as McGehee said, Cruz’s parents were not in the military.

  18. “In the U.S.” has to at least mean “under U.S. jurisdiction” if outside U.S. borders. I’m sure a kid born to U.S. citizens in a U.S. military hospital, say, would qualify.

    Born in a taxi, I honestly don’t know. If Congress decided to define “in the U.S.” to include “outside the U.S. under orders from the CINC,” a military brat born in a Munich taxicab could qualify if his mother was on the way to a U.S. military hospital.

  19. I wish he were eligible. I don’t think he is.

  20. “Such term, however, would not include a person who was not a U.S. citizen by birth or at birth, and who was thus born an “alien” required to go through the legal process of “naturalization” to become a U.S. citizen”

    TX requires that a Senator be a US citizen for at least 9 years. Unless someone can find that he was “naturalized” somewhere along the way, I believe he’s been considered a U.S. Citizen since birth.

    But I could be wrong…

  21. Of course, there is also no mechanism to prevent an ineligible candidate from running or, if elected, from taking office. It would be up to the voters to decide he’s ineligible and refuse to elect him.

    Likewise the 22nd Amendment, when you really think about it.

  22. Could it be that Cruz holds a dual citizenship with Canada since that is where he was born?

  23. The qualifications for Senator are less stringent than for President. There have been naturalized citizens in Congress since early in the nation’s history, as well as in the Cabinet.

  24. Might be he could become prime minister of Canada, I suppose. Doesn’t do us any good…

  25. US Military bases and outposts are considered to be de facto US soil. –

    the taxi cab in munich too? i suppose but they made johnny mac get a permission slip from the senate.

  26. Beats me.

  27. I keep reading elsewhere that Cruz is eligible, which would be nice. I like Cruz and Paul.

  28. “Rand Paul To CIA: ‘Can You Kill With Drones In The USA?’”

    CIA to Rand Paul: “Who’s going to stop us?”

  29. To go back to the meaning of the term when the Constitution was written there is this from 1758. The page does not allow copy/paste so I refer you to part 212 and part 215 in reference to Cruz and natural born citizen.

  30. It is my understanding that at the time of his birth US law did not distinguish between parents, and that a single parent of active US citizenship would suffice.

    So, Cruz was borne of a woman who, at that time she birthed him, was a citizen of the United States. By this mode of birth he was entitled to United States citizenship, something that was accepted and has never been renounced. Nor has he ever claimed dual citizenship.

    He is natural born.

  31. Cruz’s mom was an American citizen, therefore he is a natural-born American citizen.
    He did not have to be naturalized, but was an American citizen from birth. He is therefore eligible to be President.

  32. Didn’t we already have this discussion about McCain (who was born in the Canal Zone)?

  33. McCain can sequester the Canal Zone up his cowardly butt I think

  34. meggy mac is a natural born dumb dumb so there’s dat

  35. I wasn’t aware until today that Cruz’ mother was an American.

    I say he’s eligible after learning that.

  36. Wait, why did Rand vote for confirmation again? (I do recognize the more important vote on cloture. Of course, if he knew that was going to pass his vote there might have been the same kabuki theater just as were those voting the other way.)

    To gain votes from his father’s supporters?

    It seems worth noting that those supporters and I have vastly different views on foreign policy and he’ll have a hard time pleasing both of us.

    I think I’ll make note of this regardless of his actions with Brennan.

  37. Let me put it like this, the idea that Rand voted for Hagel to curry favor with his father’s adherents doesn’t make me less skeptical.

    It’s the whole and only reason I’m skeptical of the man in the first place.

  38. I say he’s eligible after learning that

    that’s the stanley anne rule dontcha know

  39. Let us imagine ourselves down the road a bit when candidate Rand Paul is deciding on his public policy regarding Syria or Iran. Will he be able to triangulate his way through this narrow passage then? Or will he be circumstantially unable to avoid disappointing one set of supporters?

    It seems like this will surely happen. How can it not? There are definite disagreements between these two camps he’s currently trying to finesse.

    Better to let it play out now and simply take the hit from one side or the other.

  40. I wasn’t aware until today that Cruz’ mother was an American.

    I say he’s eligible after learning that.


    You have to be a natural born citizen


    born in the U.S.


    You guys do know what that word means, right?


  41. Where does this AAAAANNNNNDDDDD of which you speak originate?

    I’ve never seen anything definitive that says one must be able to demonstrate natural US citizenship by both IVS SOLI and IVS SANGVINIS — either one alone is sufficient.

  42. I don’t think that’s correct McGehee. From reading Geoff’s link above, it sounds as if one parent is a citizen, then the child is a citizen as well regardless of where he was born.

    What am I missing?

  43. and but and or get you pretty far I think

  44. The purpose of the “natural born” part was to insure that the President was someone who grew up, was raised up, as American from earliest childhood and so their formative experiences were of this nation not another.

    Born of US citizens on US soil does it. Born of a US citizen on foreign soil also works if the parents considered themselves always as Americans, not ex-pats and the child returned to be raised up in this country as a US citizen.

    The President has to in his heart love this nation and not be of two minds as to where his loyalties lie. That is what “natural born” is striving to assure.

  45. the one we have now mostly loves food stamps and golf and his own sweet self

  46. That’s what I got from your link, Geoff. Since Cruz’ family returned to the US to live in Texas when he was just four years old, he fits the definition of “natural born” even if his father was a foreign national since his mother was born and raised in Delaware.

  47. “newrouter says February 28, 2013 at 6:20 pm
    meggy mac is a natural born dumb dumb so there’s dat ”

    [South pacific Music] You have to be carefully taught… [/South pacific Music]

  48. Didn’t we already have this discussion about McCain (who was born in the Canal Zone)?

    The Canal Zone was US territory until Carter gave it away.

  49. what about “natural born commies”?

  50. We have a lot of those.

  51. Constitution. Article II. Section 1. Clause 5.

  52. Jeez. And we get worked up when mere Supreme Court justices don’t know the Constitution.

  53. Well, sure. It’s prolly because of stuff like this:

    The natural-born-citizen clause has been mentioned in passing in several decisions of the United States Supreme Court and lower courts dealing with the question of eligibility for citizenship by birth, but the Supreme Court has never directly addressed the question of a specific presidential or vice-presidential candidate’s eligibility as a natural-born citizen.

  54. If merely being born TO U.S. citizens is enough, there should have been no question about McCain, Canal Zone or not.

    Yet there was a question.

  55. And your comment, leigh, goes back to my 2:43 p.m. Even if the meaning were settled, there’s no mechanism.

  56. Quite so. It’s all rather confusing when it shouldn’t be.

    Fwiw, I thought the whole McCain thing was just whitewash.

  57. “born in the U.S.”

    “No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”

    It says nothing about being born on U.S. territory, just a “natural born” citizen. Cruz was a citizen at birth, therefore “natural born”.

    “Yet there was a question.”

    Not a serious one. Even the Dems didn’t get much traction with that.

  58. The Canal Zone was US territory until Carter gave it away.

    The US was US territory until Obama gave it away.

  59. It says nothing about being born on U.S. territory

    As God is my witness I was sure it did. Again though, it’s moot given the lack of an enforcement mechanism. If the voters sit still for it we could have a president who’s never set foot in the country until the day of his inauguration, which ceremony might or might not follow a naturalization proceeding.

    I would not be surprised either to see the 22nd Amendment completely disregarded — not repealed, simply ignored — within the next 30 years if things don’t turn around.

  60. “As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.” ~Arthur Carlson [General Manager WKRP Radio, Cincinnati, OH]

  61. Considering how well we’re doing with our Marxist “natural-born” president, I’m not sure the rule is all the effective.

  62. McGehee says February 28, 2013 at 2:37 pm
    He may have dual citizenship. Many of us do.