Tag Archive: Senate Judiciary Committee

May 03 2019

The Russian Connection: “China, If You’re Listening”

On Wednesday night, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sat down with MSNBC host Rachel Maddow for an extended interview that was sobering and enlightening. In the first segments, Secretary Clinton talks about the importance of Americans keeping focused on the themes and findings in the Mueller report amid the antics and obfuscation that William …

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Sep 28 2018

Friday Evening Wrap

As only he can do it, “Late Night” host Stephen Colbert summarized the Thursday testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh in a two part opening monologue. First the testimony of Dr. Ford who the controlling Republicans promised to accommodate with anything she wanted except for one …

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Sep 28 2018

The GOP Doesn’t Like The Truth

Up Date 17:30: Under pressure from Senate Republicans Donald Trump has ordered the FBI to conduct an additional background investigation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who faces several sexual misconduct allegations. The FBI investigation will be limited to the current “credible allegation” according to a statement from the Senate Judiciary Committee. This will not …

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Sep 06 2018

The “I Am Spartacus” Moment

The Senate Judiciary Committee has been questioning Donald Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh of District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals, for three days. The Democrats on the committee have justifiably complained about the vast number of documents pertaining to the nominee’s opinions that have either been arbitrarily declared confidential by the …

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Jun 30 2017

The Russian Connection: Republican Disruption

Whatever are they up to? Grassley, Graham want the FBI’s Russia surveillance warrants By Austin Wright, Politico Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and panel member Lindsey Graham are asking the FBI to turn over some closely guarded secrets: its applications for warrants to spy on people suspected of helping Russia meddle in last year’s …

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Mar 11 2013

The Shame of the Democrats and Progressives

The shame of the Democrats and the so-called progressives is that it was a Tea Party Republican, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who stood up for civil liberties and the ever expanding executive power with his thirteen hour filibuster. In his article at The Guardian, Glenn Greenwald shreds the progressive Democratic myths and distortions about Sen. Paul’s filibuster and its importance.

In Glenn’s first point, he notes the lack of any empathy for the those whose rights are most abused and dismissed with an “it’s not me; it’s them” attitude.

(1) Progressives and their “empathy gap”

The US government’s continuous killing, due-process-free imprisonment, and other rights abuses under the War on Terror banner has affected one group far more than any other: Muslims and, increasingly, American Muslims. Politically, this has been the key fact enabling this to endure. Put simply, if you’re not Muslim, it’s very easy to dismiss, minimize or mock these issues because you can easily tell yourself that they don’t affect you or your family and therefore there is no reason to care. And since the vast, vast majority of Democratic politicians and progressive media commentators are not Muslim, one continuously sees this mentality shaping reaction to these issues. [..]

For a political faction that loves to depict itself as the champions of “empathy”, and which reflexively accuses others of having their political beliefs shaped by self-interest, this is an ironic fact indeed. It’s also the central dynamic driving the politics of these issues: the US government and media collaborate to keep the victims of these abuses largely invisible, so we rarely have to confront them, and on those rare occasions when we do, we can easily tell ourselves (false though the assurance is) that these abuses do not affect us and our families and it’s therefore only “paranoia” that can explain why someone might care so much about them.

Second, what Sen. Paul’s critics missed, or just blithely ignored, was that this was about the president’s claim to have the authority to assassinate an American citizen on American soil, or for that matter, anywhere else.

(2) Whether domestic assassinations are imminent is irrelevant to the debate

To focus on that attack is an absurd strawman, a deliberate distraction from the real issues, a total irrelevancy. That’s true for two primary reasons.

First, the reason this question matters so much – can the President target US citizens for assassination without due process on US soil? – is because it demonstrates just how radical the Obama administration’s theories of executive power are. Once you embrace the premises of everything they do in this area – we are a Nation at War; the entire globe is the battlefield; the president is vested with the unchecked power to use force against anyone he accuses of involvement with Terrorism – then there is no cogent, coherent way to say that the president lacks the power to assassinate even US citizens on US soil. That conclusion is the necessary, logical outcome of the premises that have been embraced. That’s why it is so vital to ask that. [..]

Second, presidents change, and so do circumstances. The belief that Barack Obama – despite his record – is too kind, too good, too magnanimous, too responsible to target US citizens for assassination on US soil is entirely irrelevant. At some point, there will be another president, even a Republican one, who will inherit the theories he embraces. Moreover, circumstances can change rapidly, so that – just as happened with 9/11 – what seems unthinkable quickly becomes not only possible but normalized.

In his third and final point, debunks the argument that this was over Holder’s first letter to Sen Paul, not that his second was any more satisfactory.

(3) Holder did not disclaim the power to assassinate on US soil

Indeed, the whole point of the Paul filibuster was to ask whether the Obama administration believes that it has the power to target a US citizen for assassination on US soil the way it did to Anwar Awlaki in Yemen. The Awlaki assassination was justified on the ground that Awlaki was a “combatant”, that he was “engaged in combat”, even though he was killed not while making bombs or shooting at anyone but after he had left a cafe where he had breakfast. If the Obama administration believes that Awlaki was “engaged in combat” at the time he was killed – and it clearly does – then Holder’s letter is meaningless at best, and menacing at worst, because that standard is so broad as to vest the president with exactly the power his supporters now insist he disclaimed.

The phrase “engaged in combat” has come to mean little more than: anyone the President accuses, in secrecy and with no due process, of supporting a Terrorist group. Indeed, radically broad definitions of “enemy combatant” have been at the heart of every War on Terror policy, from Guantanamo to CIA black sites to torture. [..]

At best, Holder’s letter begs the question: what do you mean when you accuse someone of being “engaged in combat”? And what are the exact limits of your power to target US citizens for execution without due process? That these questions even need to be asked underscores how urgently needed Paul’s filibuster was, and how much more serious pushback is still merited. But the primary obstacle to this effort has been, and remains, that the Democrats who spent all that time parading around as champions of these political values are now at the head of the line leading the war against them.

This is not a country of secret laws and courts. It is incumbent on the Congress to do its Constitutional duty to question the Executive Branch and hold it in check when it over steps its Constitutional authority.

That this president has expressed the belief that he has the authority to assassinate Americans without due process, and in fact has, should be abhorrent to every American no matter which side of the aisle you favor.  

Mar 08 2013

Eric Holder’s Bad Week

Between having to admit that it was too big to prosecute (TBTP) the Too Big To Fail (TBTF) banks, his testimony on the legality of targeted assassinations and having to clarify lethal drone attacks on Americans in America after Rand Paul’s thirteen hour filibuster, Attorney General Eric Holder has not has a good week.

In his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, AG Holder responded to Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley’s concern that the “mentality of too-big-to-jail in the financial sector” was leading to the spread of terrorism (re:HSBC) with this:

HOLDER: The concern that you have raised is one that I, frankly, share. And I’m not talking about HSBC now. That (inaudible) be appropriate.

But I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy. And I think that is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large.

Never mind laundering money for terrorist activity and giving it a pass, it’s all about protecting the world’s 1%. The Federal Reserve just keeps handing them $83 billion in handouts every year while Obama negotiates away Social Security and Medicare benefits at fancy dinners in Washington posh hotels with Republicans.

If they’re TBTP, then it time to break them up

Then came Kentucky’s Republican Sen. Rand Paul’s pique over Mr. Holder’s failure to answer three inquiries regarding armed drone attacks on Americans on American soil. Sen Paul’s 13 hour filibuster which at times bizarre (you try talking for that long and not sound a little weird) causing Mr. Holder to back off on his assertion that the president can do just that. In his second letter, Mr. Holder told Sen. Paul that the president would not have the authority to order a drone to kill an American citizen on U.S. soil who was “not engaged in combat.”. How nice, he can’t use drones. But AG holder can take solace, the author of the Bush administration legal memos justifying the use of torture, John Yoo, thinks thinks “President Obama is really getting too much grief over targeted killing“:

“I admire libertarians but I think Rand Paul’s filibuster in many ways is very much what libertarians do, they make these very symbolic gestures, standing for some extreme position,” said Yoo, now a UC Berkeley law professor, who once suggested it was okay for the president to order a child’s testicles be crushed. Referring to Paul’s marathon filibuster, an attempt to force the Obama administration to clarify its views on the use of military force against terror suspects in the United States, Yoo said “It sort of reminds me of young kids when they first read The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged and they suddenly think that federal taxation equals slavery and they’re not going to pay any federal taxes anymore.” Yoo’s statements were made on a conference call Thursday held by the Federalist Society, an influential conservative legal organization.

Now that’s an endorsement you can take to a war crimes trial.

It is unconstitutional to target a group or an individual without due process under Article I, Section 10, Clause 1 of the Constitution which bans bills of attainder, and the Fifth Amendment.

So long as this president has a list of people he thinks can be targeted for assassination without due process, by armed drone or any other means, there are should to be questions and not just from a handful of Tea Party Libertarians. As for AG Holder, if he can’t prosecute banks or uphold the Constitution, then he should be fired, resign or impeached.