Thursday, 28 March 2013

GOP Lawmakers Seek to Restrain Obama on Killing Americans

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Responding to a tsunami of outrage across the political spectrum over the Obama administration’s lawless power grabs, a coalition of liberty-minded Republicans introduced a bill in Congress last week that would specifically prohibit the executive branch from using military strikes on U.S. soil to murder American citizens. The lawmakers behind the wildly popular effort said it was aimed at protecting the Constitution and the unalienable rights of Americans. 

The three-page legislation (H.R. 1269), dubbed the “Life, Liberty, and Justice for All Americans Act,” addresses widespread public concerns and has already attracted broad support among activists opposed to the federal government’s wild claims — especially the notion that the president can unilaterally decide to extra-judicially execute or indefinitely detain anyone in the world without due process, trial, or even formal charges. Incredibly, according to the administration, even Americans can be killed or “disappeared” by Obama.

The woefully uninformed may wonder why a law prohibiting something so obviously unlawful would be necessary. After all, the U.S. government is supposed to be limited by the Constitution and its Bill of Rights. The document, of course, enshrines the unalienable right to due process of law and a trial by jury before a person can be deprived of life, liberty, or property. The Declaration of Independence also points out that those rights come from God — not government.

The Obama administration, however, has openly admitted to believing that it can execute Americans without even charging them with a crime. In fact, it has already done so in multiple cases, including the deliberate execution by drone-fired missile of a 16-year-old American boy in Yemen. The teen’s only apparent “crime” was being related to his late father, an alleged Islamic extremist who was also blown to bits by a U.S. missile despite never having been charged with anything.

The Justice Department, headed by disgraced Attorney General Eric “Fast and Furious” Holder, actually produced a “memo” purporting to justify the criminal practice. The White House later claimed that executing Americans without due process is “legal,” “necessary,” “ethical,” and “wise.” Meanwhile, under the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the president supposedly has the authority to use the U.S. military to indefinitely detain anyone suspected of supporting “terrorism” — again without charges or trial.  

If passed into law, however, the “Life, Liberty, and Justice for All Americans Act” would aim to help put the executive branch in its proper constitutional place. “The President may not use lethal military force against a citizen of the United States who is located in the United States,” the bill explains, offering only a narrow exception to the prohibition that would apply to all agencies and departments. “Nothing in this section shall be construed to suggest that the Constitution would otherwise allow the killing of a citizen of the United States without due process of law.”   

In a statement announcing the bill, the three lawmakers behind it explained why it was needed. “The Constitution protects Americans from being assassinated by their own government using drones or any other weapons,” said Rep. Justin Amash, a popular Republican from Michigan who has developed a reputation as one of the strongest supporters of the Constitution in Congress. “Our bill affirms citizens’ constitutionally protected right to due process and ensures that Americans do not have to fear that military force will be used against them in their homes, offices, and, yes, even in cafés.”

GOP Rep. Trey Radel of Florida, another congressman developing a reputation for constitutional fidelity, echoed those remarks. America, he said, is the greatest nation on earth because the U.S. Constitution protects life and assures liberty for all citizens. “The government should be vigilant in defense of our rights especially with the use of military force, and most importantly when it comes to using that force against Americans within our borders," Rep. Radel explained.

Finally, liberty-minded Republican Congressman Thomas Massie of Kentucky, the third lawmaker behind the bill, explained that the federal government does not have the authority to execute Americans on U.S. soil without the constitutionally guaranteed right of due process. “Constituents in my district are deeply concerned about the privacy, safety, and constitutionality of government drones in U.S. airspace,” Rep. Massie said in a statement unveiling the legislation.

Of course, concern over the Obama administration’s bizarre justifications for murdering U.S. citizens without due process has been simmering for years on both the right and left — and among more-principled members of both parties in Congress. On March 6, however, the deadly serious issue exploded into the public consciousness across America after popular conservative Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) led a historic 13-hour filibuster on the Senate floor in defense of Americans’ unalienable rights.

“I rise today to begin to filibuster John Brennan’s nomination for the CIA. I will speak until I can no longer speak,” said Sen. Paul, who promptly became something of a hero to millions of Americans. “I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court.”    

Critics of the administration’s extra-judicial assassination program have been winning the battle for public opinion by a landslide. In fact, a Gallup poll released this week revealed that about 80 percent of Americans were opposed to using drones to attack U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism in the “Homeland.” Just 13 percent supported the idea, while seven percent were undecided. Killing American “suspected terrorists” in other countries is also opposed by a majority of citizens — not that constitutionally guaranteed rights could be infringed upon based on public sentiment anyway.     

Even the most ruthless Third World despots would never dare to claim openly that they have the authority to murder anyone, anywhere, anytime, without trial or even charging the target with a crime. The “establishment” wing of both the Democrat Party and the GOP, however, despite swearing an oath to uphold the Constitution, has come out swinging to support Obama’s lawlessness on the issue.

Among Democrats, even House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — who duped voters into believing she opposed war and supported civil liberties — announced her support of the president’s extrajudicial killing spree last month. Speaking to a liberal reporter, Rep. Pelosi of California said she was not even sure whether the Obama administration should tell the public after it executes an American without due process. "Maybe,” she responded. “It just depends."

In the Republican Party, two of the most prominent so-called RINOs – Republicans In Name Only — have also admitted they support Obama’s murder-by-drone machinations. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina even proposed a resolution to commend the president for his extra-judicial assassination program. Sen. John McCain from Arizona, meanwhile, rightly opposed torture, yet for some reason claimed to believe that opposition to execution of Americans without charge or trial is a hallmark of what he childishly called “wacko birds” before publicly apologizing.   

Obama claims his invented authority to murder or indefinitely detain anyone applies only to suspected “al-Qaeda” terrorists, their supporters, or vaguely defined “associated forces.” However, with indisputable evidence that the administration has itself been supporting self-styled al-Qaeda leaders in both Libya and Syria, the question of who might be labeled a suspected terrorist becomes crucial. If al-Qaeda is getting U.S. weapons, funding, and training from Obama to overthrow certain Middle Eastern regimes, whom does the president really consider to be a terrorist?

According to official documents released by multiple federal agencies and departments in recent years, the real terror threat to the “Homeland” is actually regular Americans: pro-life activists, gun owners, conservatives, constitutionalists, Ron Paul supporters, libertarians, veterans, opponents of illegal immigration, and others. Even a U.S. military “think tank” recently put out a shoddy “study” claiming that conservatives were the real danger. The Justice Department, meanwhile, was exposed last year training state and local police to consider mundane political bumper stickers as possible indicators of domestic terrorism.

The legislation to prohibit the assassination of Americans on U.S. soil was filed last week and has now been referred to the House Judiciary, Armed Services, and Intelligence committees. No hearings have been scheduled yet, according to legislative staffers. If the bill eventually reaches the president’s desk, Obama may well try to veto it, of course — though doing so would likely be an albatross around his neck even among his most ardent supporters.

Still, lawmakers could override a potential veto. With 80 percent of Americans opposed to drone strikes targeting Americans on U.S. soil, members of Congress from both parties would probably have a very tough time explaining their opposition to the legislation to constituents. Activists are already rallying to support “Life, Liberty, and Justice for All Americans.” Whether more lawmakers will follow suit remains to be seen.

Photo: AP Images

Alex Newman is a correspondent for The New American, covering economics, politics, and more. He can be reached at

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