Michael Maiello's picture

    Filibuster Open Thread! *Updated*

    Okay, Rand Paul is basically unloved around here.

    But I like that he's using the talking filibuster to make his point about Obama's drone policies.  That, rather than procedural games, requires some physical, mental and emotional sacrifice.  It i in keeping with the spirit of passionate argument and debate, rather than parliamentary trickery.

    Also, his demand: that Obama clarify whether or not a weaponized drone can be used against an American and for what purpose, sounds totally reasonable to me.

    That he is conducting his filibuster during the confirmation vote of the next CIA director, who would have some say in such matters, also makes it appropriate.  It's not like he's holding up a civil rights bill to argue for corn subsidies.

    Finally, I dislike Harry Reid's response to Ron Paul which was:

    "I'm not in the position to talk to the Attorney General," Reid replied, visibly irritated. "Everyone should plan on coming tomorrow. We're through for the night."

    Reid is the Senate Majority Leader.  If he wants to call the Attorney General the AG should darned well pick up the phone.  Whatever you think of Paul or of drones, I think the questions being asked here are fair and that the executive should feel obligated to answer.

    But, that's more than I intended to write. 



    Holder's response to Paul's question (can the President authorize a drone strike against a non-combatant enemy on U.S. soil?" was a categorical "No."

    Why was that so hard?



    I have been edified by the feed from the senate floor.


    Those damn Pauls...they have a pesky way of being on the right side of too damn many issues.

    I am dispatching an emergency adderall packet so that our paladin will not be unhorsed by an untimely drowse.

    Eric Holder: "Due process doesn't necessarily mean judicial process".  This will go down in history along with such other tortured phrases as "we had to destroy the village in order to save it" and "The police are here to enforce disorder".

    Parenthetically, you can remove the judge from "due process " but you cannot remove the necessity for a hearing.  One thing consipicuously absent from the present drone regime, indeed, one thing fled from like a vampire flees garlic, is a hearing.

    Question:  Can Commander-in-chief be tried by military tribunal?

    Holder's statement made me wonder.

    I would think only if we have a military coup. In the US, clearly Commander-in-chief is always a civilian by virtue of coming with the elected office of presidency, and where active military cannot run for civilian office.

    A general, perhaps, cannot run, but he can hide...(reference, MacArthur, whose putative run was, I believe, the subject of a whispering campaign while he was still in uniform.  But I was too young to remember one way or another.)

    A civilian, yes, but with a constitutionally bestowed military rank.  I do not think it a good idea but who knows what Holder's legalistic mind may be thinking.


    In a country on the whole comfortable with the annual death toll of 30,000 or so, literally scores daily, inflicted by guns, where literally anyone, psychopath, felon, gang banger or fool can legally buy a high velocity, high capacity, military style weapon, it's curious to see the bogus outrage and/or near panic over the legal details/jurisprudence/findings on use of drones here or abroad.

    For someone like me, who lives in a low income neighborhood, drones don't worry me. But the sounds of guns being fired I hear every night does.

    Don't worry about hearing the gunshots, as long as you don't find the shells on the way to walking your daughter to kindergarten (that was always my rubric...)

    I have had a few fall through my ceiling and picked them up off my kitchen floor.

    That is way on the wrong side of the line...

    Your city's security agencies are obviously not trying hard enough to take the danger to your life and limb seriously, probably because of budget concerns. Maybe you should all put a bee in their bonnet by suing them for new roofs every time that happens?  You have my deepest sympathies, just trying to lighten things a bit....

    How does your family celebrate the 4th of July?

    It shouldn't matter what neighborhood you live in.

    A government allowed to use drones, against its citizens, is a dangerous precedent.

    Imagine in the future, the LA police decide, it's too dangerous to deliver a warrant, so they send a drone instead to wipe out the perp or perps or known associates believed to be armed at the address listed. The surrounding homes get shot up too.

    At the press conference, Commissioner Rumsfield, when questioned by reporters states "Shit Happens" but we'll send in Blackwater investigators, to question any surviving witnesses"

    Nineteen Eighty-Four ........ Orwell missed it by 29 years.

    where society is tyrannised by the Party and its totalitarian ideology.[1] The Oceanian province of Airstrip One is a world of perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, and public mind control, dictated by a political system euphemistically named English Socialism (Ingsoc) under the control of a privileged Inner Party elite that persecutes all individualism and independent thinking as thoughtcrimes.[2] Their tyranny is headed by Big Brother, the quasi-divine Party leader who enjoys an intense cult of personality

    Nineteen Eighty-Four - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Alas, we need no imagination.  This has already happened. no drone involved...  

    LOL...well...until I see a drone buzz my trailer above the tree tops like the helicopters do on Friday and Saterday nights, that issue will remain a political side show in my world of politics.

    Just keep partying away and ignore the signs. When you do see the drones,  you'll have been to late to gather the forces to stop them; Grass hopper.

    Ironically, that was local government, which Rand Paul types would like to empower over the Feds, would they not? (Especially when dealing with commune-type organizations?)  Interesting in this vein, from the "Aftermath" paragraphs of the wikipedia entry, is how some victims of the local government looked to the Federal civil courts for redress....

    A well-armed militia and all, protecting one's neighbors from zoning violators....

    A well-armed militia and all, protecting one's neighbors from zoning violators....

    Or protecting your neighbors, from people going around the neighborhood under the guise of polio prevention?

    Good thing for the Indians tribes in the late 1800's,  that the US government didn't have drones, with the ability for aerosol spraying. The Feds would have used that method, rather than using smallpox laced blankets.

    Whats next...Maybe the Feds will try another Tuskegee trial on a larger scale?

    Maybe someday, some dictator figures a way to rid the country of them liberals in New York, by using a drone to drop similar chemicals used in Bhopal?

    When the police ask, did anyone see anyone, why would anyone see anything, unless they happened to be looking up? 

    I don't want Nukes or drones in my neighborhood. 

    Are drones, the new method of Quartering troops in our homes, without being in them; but still being able to peer inside them?

    Credit where credit is due: Sir jeffrey Amherst, to whom the innovative version of biological warfare is "credited" worked for the Crown.  There were, as yet, no feds. (ed note: the question of his intentionality is yet controversial)

    There are lives being lost in cities across the country and they go unnoticed. The killings are the result of neglected schools with a resultant high dropout rate, lack of jobs and a prison industrial complex. Elementary school reading levels are used to determine the number of prison beds that will be needed in the future.

    Hadiya Pendleton had to live in a dangerous section of Chicago because local police did not consider the people who lived there important enough to muster the police protection required. When she became a nationally known victim, Chicago was able to decerse the homicide rate from 41 in January to 14 in February. We will see if the lower number is a statistical fluke or will persist under increased police presence.

    Maybe after we deal with the rights of US citizens who are working with foreign powers and insure that they are protected from drones, we can address the lives of the children who live under the fear of getting shot just for walking down the street.

    I doubt that we will see filibusters to prevent funding cuts for besieged communities.

    The new CIA director will be conformed. The drone program will be transferred to the Dept of Defense. The argument is that assassinating an American on US soil is illegal. The argument is not about "collateral" damage when drones are used overseas. This is political theater. At the end of the day, a foreign Hadiya Pendleton  just standing around with friends will remain at risk, because all we are really discussing is American citizens.

    Holder gave examples of that included 911. On 911, there was a possibility that American citizens would have been killed if the plane had turned towards DC since the plane would have been ordered to be shot down.Americans would have been killed by the US government.

    At 12:30 A.M. EST Sen Cruz is now saying that Holder said during a Senate hearing that it was unConstitutional to kill an American terrorist who is not an eminent threat.

    I hate that your community is not getting the attention it deserves.

    More or less in the same vein, it is well worth observing that 97% of drone deaths have nothing to do with "kill lists", (vetted or not) but are "signature strikes", the launching of which is more or less (as I understnd it) within the discretion of some chicken colonel at a video console. (chicken colonel here being a reference to a lieutenant colonel, not a chicken hawk, or member of the 101st keyborne...)

    Republicans tend to make issues simple and are good with sound bites. In the era of Obama, we are witnessing a dramatic increase in militia groups . The Southern Poverty Law Center has sent a letter to Homeland Security head Janet Napolitano that the risk of an attack by one of these groups is at the same level as just prior to McVeigh's bombing of the Federal building in Oklahoma City. What will be considered eminent in case one of these groups plans an attack?

    By the way Lawrence O'Donnell reported tonight that during his filibuster , Rand Paul made the following statement "If you're armed and robbing  and threatening people in a liquor store, and you come out with a weapon, I really don't care if you get shot by a drone or a rifle from a policeman" If that statement accredited to Paul is true, it is very strange to be coming from someone worried about the government use of drones.

    Shooting a criminal dead in the middle of an armed crime is one of the things government should do - it's protecting us. (Should apprehend if possible, but very often riskier for everyone than shoot-to-kill - them's the breaks)

    Shooting a (suspected) criminal dead when not committing a criminal act is assassination - something government should not do.

    I have no problem understanding Paul on this one.

    Perhaps the rubber meets the road at the decision whether to fire first, or to shout '"Police! Drop your weapon!" and than squeeze one (or 10) round (s) off.

    Is this how you write a whisper?  "Police! Drop your weapon!"

    and your Blue Code friends heard you.

    The democrats will try to seize the election slogan  "tough on crime" from the Republicans The new Democratic election slogan,  will be "tough shite for accused criminals"

    Maybe our government will adopt the way of other countries?

    Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Imagine how convenient for a government run amok? You hear or (you don't) of a police suspect or whistle blower, who drove off the edge of a lonely mountain road and the car crashed and burned below, with no survivors. Apparent tire blow out

    thing  is….. it blew up and burned before it went off the road, hit by a drone strike.

    No trial

    The Government clean-up crew, telling Rubber necking, Lookie Lou’s; move along, nothing to see here

    Amadou Diallo was killed by police who said they gave a warning. I suppose a drone issuing a loudspeaker warning before murdering him would have been just as effective.

    Aaargh, please re-read what I wrote.

    Diallo didn't have a weapon and he wasn't commiting a crime. Rand Paul & I were referring say to a guy holding up a gas station, in which case I don't care if he's killed by baseball bat, gun or drone attack.

    Nevertheless, I'm sure if drones are flying around, they'll be used for ridiculous reasons 80% of the time, deadly mistakes 10% of the time, just as tasers seem to be continually overwhelming the common sense of officers who wield them.

    Amadou Diallo was killed by police who said they gave a warning. I suppose a drone issuing a loudspeaker warning before murdering him would have been just as effective.

    What makes you believe a drone would announce itself?  

    By the time the neighbors looked out their windows and doors, the drone would be long gone.

    When questioned by the police, the conclusion being;  No One saw what killed the poor gent.

    Another, unsolved mystery.

    Swamp gas or BS?

    The point was about death by remote control. The drone pilot not wanting a "criminal" to get away would likely see any shiny object as a weapon and fire at Diallo

    I  suppose we would need laws clarifying the duty of the drone to announce itself before firing. Of course any movement of shock by the intended victim could be seen as a threat by the drone pilot who is safe and probably miles away. This all theoretical,  of course.

    This all theoretical, of course.

    Of course

    President Could, In Theory, Order Drone Strike Inside U.S., Holder ...


    2 days ago – Attorney General Eric Holder has said in a letter to Sen. Rand Paul that the president could in an "entirely hypothetical" situation authorize the ...

    This is the same Eric Holder, who had no clue, what the ATF was doing during Fast and Furious.

    If the US was under attack with Kamikaze planes flying into ships or hijackers were about to fly jets into buildings the President could order lethal force against the attackers. To make that sentence a threat of an attack on American citizens is a pretty far stretch. Holder responded today that there is no legal basis for using drone strikes against US citizens. He left open a question about Americans in direct combat against the United States.

    If Timothy McVeigh was about to park a truck full of explosives in front of the Federal building in Oklahoma City, could lethal force be used?

    I understand completely; what if the drones detected a mobile bio-weapons lab.

    Like the ones Colin Powell told us about

    Actual Text of the February 5, 2003 UN presentation

    One of the most worrisome things that emerges from the thick intelligence file we have on Iraq's biological weapons is the existence of mobile production facilities used to make biological agents.

    Let me take you inside that intelligence file and share with you what we know from eyewitness accounts. We have first-hand descriptions of biological weapons factories on wheels and on rails.

    Some of the other slides used to show the Iraqi mobile production facilities used to make biological agents.

    The trucks and train cars are easily moved and are designed to evade detection by inspectors. In a matter of months, they can produce a quantity of biological poison equal to the entire amount that Iraq claimed to have produced in the years prior to the Gulf War.

    Iraqi Mobile Production Facilities - FamousPicturesMagazine

    Poor Colin, he was used by an administration making up lies for one purpose.

    Pity the poor victims, of an American Administration bent on War, wanting to destroy those they oppose.

    J. Edgar Hoover would have liked these drones.



    I think Rand Paul's suggestion that the Obama administration will kill San Francisans at Starbuck's is ridiculous. I think Senator Wyden demanding that the "kill list" be open to Congressional review is correct and likely required Constitutionally (hedging because I'm not a lawyer).

    Think think that Democrats didn't show up en masse to support Rand Paul is because Rand Paul is a nut job. There is no requirement to follow at nut job on any particular issue. Since Paul was dealing was dealing with hypothetical scenarios, let me propose one. If Louis Farrakhan said that he favored a two-state solution for the Palestine-Israel situation, how many people would give him kudos for taking a bold stand, especially if he made references about the Israelis being similar to dictators/murderers  as part of his line of discussion?

    I agree with Wyden that Obama has to make Congress aware of any potential target(s). Rand Paul is a sideshow.

      Yes, Congress has to have some say in who the President can kill and when. That doesn't mean drones should never be used in a war, but the executive branch can't have unlimited authority when it comes to bloodshed.

    Wow I "think think" that I must have much more tired than I thought when I posted.

    I have a suspicion that Congress has not pushed the administration very hard on this issue because there are some Congress critters who see themselves as Presidential material and would love the idea of having control of a "kill list".

    Thank you rmrd for your thoughtful information.  Things do change rapid when the authorities start cleaning up.  We voted in a new sheriff a few years ago and things got better but until gun laws are tightened, there will still be too many guns on the streets. I don't like to watch the local news because it bothers me when a kid gets killed. Our neighborhood high school ranks in the top 2 % in the country, in spite of the poverty. 

    Every once in a while it is good to remind folks here that there are real issues that some communities face.  And Rand Paul's Medicine Show is political theater that does not interest the majority in the community I live in.  There are things that keep them awake at night but drones are not one of them.  

    Before drones there were the airplanes used to destroy Black Wall Street in Tulsa. There. Was the fire-bombing of MOVE in Philadelphia. We focus on theoretical use of drones and ignore the real methods used against US citizens in the past.

    If the argument is that we shouldn't kill bad people sleeping in their beds, Google "Fred Hampton and the Black Panther Party.

    In the matter of Timothy McVeigh asleep in his bed, are we really saying we want police to storm the building despite the threat the there may be explosives in the building? Is McVeigh an threat despite his slumber?


    When Jolly and I hear gunshots we figure someone's just poppin off at the drones or UN choppers. Or maybe NObamaZERO militias are rehearsing to save freedom. Thinking like that makes me proud of my fellow Mericans.

    Reminds me of Bernie Sander's filibuster against the Bush tax cuts insofar as it was also designed to attract attention rather than block legislation.

    I may be Obama's most consistent defender here. Not on this one.

    Holder's argument ,no doubt dictated by the White House, is essentially  "trust us". Reminds me of a newspaper  ad a few years ago: A blond is shown , looking delicious, but the dialog with which she's credited is

    "Sure I trust you honey, but cut the cards".

    Cheney ,we're told, became Vice President determined to restore the Presidential powers he considered to have been supinely surrendered by W's predecessors.

    And we know where that got us.("Scooter, have I got a job for you!")

    Whatever powers a president should legitimately possess,  they oughtn't to  include assassinating American citizens anywhere and certainly not in the good old U S of A/  




    Also, his demand: that Obama clarify whether or not a weaponized drone can be used against an American and for what purpose, sounds totally reasonable to me.

    Agree.  I would also like the Administration to clarify under what circumstances a weaponized drone can be used against non-Americans.  What is the government's operative "test" at this time, and how does it justify its policy in light of national and international law as well as its constitutional responsibilities?   Would it support similar latitude for other countries to follow the same policy?  Why or why not?


    Googled 'rules of engagement weaponized drones' and got this interesting hit:

    The American Society of International Law

    I do not think it exactly answers your question but it is informative.


    That's a great article; she clearly has real talent in translating a world of legal mumbo jumbo for those in the real world.  She sets up the context very skillfully, makes the big picture clear so you can see where armed drones cause a  legal problem and where they don't.

    Glad you liked it. It is well written.

    Yes it is and it could help alleviate the fear. As long as the rule of law is obeyed.

    We don't need drones, flying over our neighbors house, looking for marijuana, so as to give the authorities a probable cause, to bust in the doors and drag their families out of bed.

    In the future maybe the government can force everyone to wear an electronic device and the drone can record the daily movements and activities of multiple people.

    To force the monitoring device on the public, there will be an increase in abductions, and the public will demand it

    Lo and behold, it will be legal, because it wasn't war related; It was only Big Brother looking out for us....... literally.

    What makes a weaponized drone scarier than any other weapon including ninja assassins?  

    Worrying about scary drones obscures and trivializes what seems to me to be something much more frightening -- what are the rules of engagement for assassinations.  How creepy is that.  

    Attempting to establish such rules is de facto permission.  

    Things like assassinations and torture should never be codified.  They should always be considered outside the boundary of normal.  Yes, they sometimes occur and are even sometimes a defendable response to a situation; however, they should never be  considered legally persmissible, only punishable or forgiveable post facto in the same way homicide is sometimes treated legally.


    I feel like you do, I think assigning drones special fear is irrational and assassination outside of war is the thing. "Assassination" has, of course, has long been allowed by snipers in war if the person being assassinated is part of the enemy force. The legal article you posted upthread was interesting on what kind of  lines have been drawn on the real issue here--who is a combatant, and what is what we call a war. In international law, the author points out it is not so much about declaration of war, as things like war-level weaponry and "assassination" are also allowed under undeclared "armed conflict." And even whether the parties in conflict are states doesn't matter as much as I supposed.  It is more about whether it's considered  a law enforcement action or not.  Things like war-level weaponry and assassination are not allowed when it's a law enforcement action unless, like we have come to expect with police, they can save a life by doing so |(in a hostage situation or some such,) or self-defense from direct attack. She brings up appropriate problematic examples like pirates and minor, small insurgencies to clarify.

    (comment deleted)


    Holder's response to Paul's question (can the President authorize a drone strike against a non-combatant enemy on U.S. soil?" was a categorical "No."

    Helpful to get that from him, and would be even better if he were to state the legal authority he relied upon for that answer. 

    But weren't you asking a different, and also very good, question (attributed to Paul?)?:

    Also, his demand: that Obama clarify whether or not a weaponized drone can be used against an American and for what purpose, sounds totally reasonable to me.

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