Due Process

SCOTUS accepts judicial sentencing tyranny in drug case

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It may sound like a case out of the kangaroo courts of North Korea or Cuba, but chillingly, it comes from the very heart of our republic.

In 2007 a Washington, D.C. man, Antwuan Ball, was convicted of one count of selling $600 worth of cocaine and acquitted of several other charges alleging a conspiracy of drug distribution, murder, and racketeering. However, the district court used the charges of which he was acquitted to increase his sentence from a few years for the one drug deal to 19 years for the conspiracy. Six years later, in 2013, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the sentence. And in a final act of injustice, the Supreme Court this week refused to hear the appeal, rendering permanent Ball’s sentence on charges for which he was acquitted.

The level of tyranny being tacitly endorsed here by 6 members of the highest court in the land is hard to exaggerate and to fathom. Judges should have a certain measure of discretion to level appropriate sentences after a conviction, but using charges for which the defendent was specifically acquitted for that purpose is against the entire spirit of due process and the Bill of Rights.

Mixed signals: Five ‘high risk’ terrorists go free while Obama claims authority to assassinate Americans

Let’s get this straight. President Barack Obama can “legally” kill an American citizen who is merely suspected of terrorist activity, ignoring the constitutional rights of due process and trial by jury, while at the same time trade five terrorists for an American soldier who deserted his unit?

That’s not necessarily how President Obama or any of his apologists would put it, but that’s exactly the message his administration has sent.

The Justice Department penned a memo for the White House in 2010 making the legal case for the targeted assassination of American citizens accused of terrorist ties. Anwar al-Awlaki is the only American citizen to have been specifically targeted, but three others have been killed, including al-Awlaki’s innocent, 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman.

The U.S. Senate recently confirmed the author of that memo, David Barron, to serve on the First District Court of Appeals.

Rand Paul’s stand against Obama was huge moment for the Constitution

Judge Andrew Napolitano really has a way of explaining the importance of basic civil liberties in a very common sense way. In his latest at Reason, “Another Week of Government Lawlessness,” he asks some very basic, mostly rhetorical questions:

What if that lawyer who advised the president that he could kill with drones—even Americans if he wished—has been nominated to become a federal judge? What if the bench to which the president nominated this lawyer is the second highest court in the land?

What if the Constitution requires Senate confirmation of all of the president’s judicial nominees? What if Sen. Rand Paul and others asked this nominee for public copies of his legal memoranda in which he found a way for the president legally to kill Americans? What if this nominee and the president refused to make these memoranda available for public scrutiny until a court ordered them to do so?

I have a question of my own: “What if the media actually thought Rand Paul’s filibuster was actually important enough to cover?” After watching half of one local newscast and half of another last night, it occurred to me that neither had one thing to say about Rand Paul’s filibuster, good or bad. Not one word about this judicial nominee, either, not even on the crawl on the bottom of the screen!

So what did my local news think was important enough for my consumption? The CEO of Levi’s advises his customers not to wash their jeans, the cat who saved a child from a dog attack “threw” out the first pitch at some minor league baseball game, and the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks visited the White House.

It’s on: Rand Paul vows to filibuster Obama judicial nominee

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is ready for another showdown over the Obama administration’s drones policy, this time over David Barron, President Barack Obama’s controversial nominee to First District Court of Appeals.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has filed for a vote Barron’s nomination, which will likely take place on Wednesday, according to The Hill. But Paul is hoping to throw a wrench in the plans, pledging to oppose and filibuster Barron due to his authorship of memos outlining the purported legal case for the assassination of American citizens when he served as acting assistant attorney general in the Obama administration.

The Second District Court of Appeals recently ordered the administration to release the memo. The White House, however, has defied the order, offering senators only limited access to the memo.

“I’ve read David Barron’s memos concerning the legal justification for killing an American citizen overseas without a trial or legal representation, and I am not satisfied,” Paul said in a statement this afternoon. “While the President forbids me from discussing what is in the memos, I can tell you what is not in the memos.”

Today in Liberty: House to vote on Ryan budget, Second Amendment hero passes away

“Don’t hurt people, and don’t take their stuff. That’s it, in a nutshell. Everyone should be free to live their lives as they think best, free from meddling by politicians and government bureaucrats, as long as they don’t hurt other people, or take other people’s stuff.”Matt Kibbe

— White House suggests amendment to limit free speech: While Shaun McCutcheon was touting last week’s big win for the First Amendment, White House Adviser Dan Pfeiffer preached doom and gloom, suggesting that a constitutional amendment to limit free speech “may be the only option” to undo recent court rulings.

Rand Paul marks one-year anniversary of filibuster

See Video

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has released a video marking the one-year anniversary of his 13-hour filibuster of CIA nominee John Brennan. Though it didn’t stop Brennan’s confirmation, it did raise awareness to the Obama administration’s drone strikes policy and, almost single-handedly, changed public opinion on the issue. You see our coverage of the filibuster here and here. You can also watch the filibuster, if you have 13 hours to spare, in full via C-SPAN.

Obama Makes a Mockery of Due Process, DOJ Memo Justifies Targeted Killing

Imagine that you live in a country that is run by a powerful handful of people that can order the death of any of its citizens, at any time, for any given reason without ever pressing charges against that citizen or bringing him or her to justice.

Imagine that this country you live in has apologists picked by the democratically elected president telling you and your family that what the president decides to do, should be done, whether you like it or not. They claim that his decisions should be supported by you, whether you think that what he’s doing is right or not, or even if what he chooses to do doesn’t represent you or your loved ones in the slightest.

This country is the United States of America, and the handful of people ruling our resources and citizens have a hit list of Americans and non-Americans they can kill at any given time, for any given reason, without due process.

The president’s apologists also want you to believe that that’s okay, he knows exactly what he’s doing and you shouldn’t be afraid.

According to a Washington Post report, President Obama’s hit list, which goes by the title “disposition matrix,” included at least three Americans. During President George W. Bush’s administration, an intelligence official claimed that he “did not know of any American who was approved for targeted killing.” Under Obama, at least three American names are known to have been part of the hit list.

After Obama’s Speech, Many Questions on Drones Still Unanswered

President Obama’s speech at the National Defense University yesterday was arguably one of the most important – and most consequential – of his Presidency. His nine pages of remarks on counterterrorism operations specifically focused on drone policy and the detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and seemed to signal a shift (of some sort) to end the War on Terror against specific groups, but to continue a war against radicalized ideology.

I’ll discuss GTMO in a later post. On drone policy, President Obama addressed many of the questions I posed yesterday in my post at United Liberty; but addressing is not the same as answering. Many of those questions remain unanswered; worse yet, I’m afraid this is the best we will get on drone policy.

To be fair, Obama is in the unenviable position of making actual life-and-death decisions on national security. Mistakes will be made, and his challenge is to minimize mistakes. In his own words:

Obama: Reject Voices Warning of Tyranny

Barack Obama at Ohio State University

During a commencement address at The Ohio State University, President Barack Obama praised government, played down the role of the individual, and urged students to reject the voices of tyranny.

“We, the people, chose to do these things together — because we know this country cannot accomplish great things if we pursue nothing greater than our own individual ambition,” President Obama told graduating students. “Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems; some of these same voices also doing their best to gum up the works.”

“They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner,” he continued. “You should reject these voices.  Because what they suggest is that our brave and creative and unique experiment in self-rule is somehow just a sham with which we can’t be trusted.”

The shot against “individual ambition” is ironic because President Obama himself is the defintion of that term. He was an Illinois state senator who gave a keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. Later that year, he was elected to the United States Senate. By 2007, he was campaigning full-time for his party’s presidential nomination, which he won in 2008, and would subsequently be elected president.

If that doesn’t define ambition, what does? That’s not a shot against him, by the way. President Obama’s personal story is one that should be admired. The problem with him, of course, is the policies he pushes, which leads us to the next point.

The Senate Shelves CISPA

CISPA

Nearly a week after the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the controversial legislation, it appears that the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act — commonly known as CISPA — has been shelved, at least for now. Citing Internet privacy concerns, the Senate will not take up the bill, but will instead work on new legislation that addresses cyber attacks on the United States:

The Senate will not vote on a cybersecurity bill that passed the House earlier this month, according to two Senate staffers, dealing a blow to a measure that sparked opposition from privacy advocates and the White House.
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Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.), who is chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, “believes that information sharing is a key component of cybersecurity legislation, but the Senate will not take up CISPA,” a committee staffer told HuffPost.

A staffer for the Senate Intelligence Committee said the committee also is working on an information-sharing bill and will not take up CISPA.

“We are currently drafting a bipartisan information sharing bill and will proceed as soon as we come to an agreement,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement Thursday.

The White House had already issued a veto threat on CISPA, citing privacy concerns, as ironic as that sounds given some of the things this administration has pushed. This is also quite similar to what happened last year when the House passed CISPA and it was killed by the Senate.


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