Due Process

Rand Paul Remains Consistent on Drones Strikes and Immediate Threats

Rand Paul

Last month, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) made an impressive, 13-hour stand against the Obama Administration’s domestic drones policy. The Department of Justice had made a tepid legal case for drone strikes against American citizens who are merely suspected of being a terrorist. Attorney General Eric Holder later said that a president could conduct drone strikes on American citizens suspected of terrorist activities inside the United States.

Paul objected to the notion.  “I rise today for the principle,” Paul said during the filibuster. “The principle is one that as Americans we have fought long and hard for and to give up on that principle, to give up on the Bill of Rights, to give up on the Fifth Amendment protection that says that no person shall be held without due process, that no person shall be held for a capital offense without being indicted.”

Holder eventually relented his comments, acknowledging that a president doesn’t have the authority to kill an American citizen on American soil, and the coverage of the filibuster boosted Paul’s profile and added to the speculation that he would seek the Republican nomination in 2016. He would go on to win the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) straw poll just days after giving a dynamic speech in which he essentially laid out a platform for the future of the Republican Party.

Justice Department Will Not Try Boston Bomber as an Enemy Combatant

Tsarnaev brothers

Much to the chagrin of Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ), the White House announced yesterday that the Justice Department would not try Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as an enemy combatant for his role in the Boston Marathon bombing:

White House press secretary Jay Carney said that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was charged Monday with using a weapon of mass destruction to kill three people and injure more than 200, would be tried as a terrorist in the federal court system.

“This is absolutely the right way to go and the appropriate way to go,” Carney said at Monday’s White House press briefing.

Carney said the department of Justice and Attorney General Eric Holder, as well the entire national security team, support not trying the terror suspect as an enemy combatant.

You can read the complaint against Tsarnaev here and the transcript from the court hearing held in his hospital room yesterday here.

Graham, McCain, and other Senators believe that Tsarnaev should not be read his Miranda rights and instead be held as an enemy combatant so that interrogators can gather more information about any other explosives he may have left, any affiliations with foreign terrorist organizations, and the possibility of other attacks.

House to Vote on CISPA


Nearly two months have passed since President Barack Obama signed an executive order dealing with cybersecurity. This move reignited the debate over CISPA, controversial legislation that has some very severe implications for Internet privacy.

Yesterday, the House Intelligence Committee approved CISPA, paving a path for a final vote in the House some time next week:

The House Intelligence Committee passed a controversial cybersecurity bill on an 18-2 vote Wednesday.

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, known as CISPA, is expected to be voted on in the House next week with a set of other cybersecurity-focused bills.

House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and ranking member Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), the authors of the bill, expressed optimism that Wednesday’s markup vote signaled they have enough momentum to pass CISPA through the House, as it did last year.

While threats to infrastructure are very serious and should be addressed, Congress should be working for ways to protect Internet privacy and due process. That clearly has not been done with previous or current versions of CISPA. In fact, Declan McCullagh noted yesterday that amendments that were offered in committee that would have protected privacy were overwhelmingly voted down.

The Game of Drones: An Issue That Can Unite the Left and Right

FreedomWorks, Kucinich, and Innocent discuss drones

Who said the left and right can’t come together on an issue? FreedomWorks and former Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), perhaps one of the most leftist members of Congress in recent memory, certainly have over the issue of drones.

Kucinich and Malou Innocent, a foreign policy analyst at the Cato Institute, joined Jackie Bodnar and Reid Smith of FreedomWorks to discuss Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster earlier this month, the foreign use of drones, and the constitutional ramifications of drones inside the United States.

Check out the full conversation below:

One Man with Courage Makes a Majority: How Rand Paul Swayed Opinion on Drone Strikes

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who led a 13-hour filibuster of John Brennan’s nomination to the CIA, has certainly changed public opinion on drone strikes. According to a new Gallup poll, 79% now oppose drone strikes on American citizens on American soil and 52% oppose strikes against American citizens on foreign soil:

Gallup Drones Poll

Over at Slate, Dave Weigel notes that this also represents a 50-point swing against the idea of drone strikes against American citizens who are merely accused of terrorism on foreign soil.

Within hours of Sen. Paul’s filibuster, Attorney General Eric Holder clarified the Obama Administration’s position on drone strikes, stating that a president could not kill an American citizen on American soil.

Police Want To See Your Text Messages

Fourth Amendment

Law enforcement agencies want to require cellular providers under the force of Federal law to keep a record of all text messages in case they ever need them:

AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and other wireless providers would be required to capture and store Americans’ confidential text messages, according to a proposal that will be presented to a congressional panel today. The law enforcement proposal would require wireless providers torecord and storecustomers’ SMS messages — a controversial idea akin to requiring them to surreptitiously record audio of their customers’ phone calls — in case police decide to obtain them at some point in the future.

So the cops want a record of every single text message sent. What ever happened to privacy and being secure in our communications? How can people communicate if they know that a permanent record of the communication is being kept by a third party? This is an attack on the right to privacy:

“Billions of texts are sent every day, and some surely contain key evidence about criminal activity,”Richard Littlehale from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation will tell Congress, according to a copy (PDF) of his prepared remarks. “In some cases, this means that critical evidence is lost. Text messaging often plays a big role in investigations related to domestic violence, stalking, menacing, drug trafficking, and weapons trafficking.”

Yes, but most Americans are not criminals. There is no compelling need for the state to require a permanent record of all text messages sent.

Obama Says He’s Not Dick Cheney — Dick Cheney Disagrees

Dick Cheney

During a recent closed-door meeting with Senate Democrats, President Barack Obama fended off questions about his controversial drones program, which could put American citizens accused of terrorism in its crosshairs. In seeking to downplay his administration’s use of drones, President Obama claimed that he is no Dick Cheney, whose hawkish foreign policy views carried significant weight in the Bush Administration:

President Barack Obama’s defense to Democratic senators complaining about how little his administration has told Congress about the legal justifications for his drone policy: Dick Cheney was worse.

That’s part of what two senators in the room recounted of Obama’s response when, near the outset of his closed-door session with the Senate Democratic conference on Tuesday, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) confronted the president over the administration’s refusal for two years to show congressional intelligence committees Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel memos justifying the use of lethal force against American terror suspects abroad.
“This is not Dick Cheney we’re talking about here,” he said, according to Democratic senators who asked not to be named discussing the private meeting.

Dick Cheney apparently didn’t get that memo. The former vice president spoke positively of President Obama’s drones program last month in an interview with Charlie Rose. Cheney said, “I think it’s a good program and I don’t disagree with the basic policy that the Obama administration is pursuing now in those regards.”

Americans for Tax Reform, ACLU Team Up for Internet Privacy

Internet spying

Should the government be snooping around you e-mails and cloud accounts? Given that there are constitutional safeguards in place to guarantee our privacy, one would think that the answer to this question would be obvious. But because federal laws haven’t been updated to cover online communication, law enforcement agencies haven’t bothered to obtain warrants for these searches. Additionally, efforts to pass SOPA, PIPA, and CISPA — bills that would have dire implications for online privacy and due process — are likely to resurface soon.

Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, and Laura Murphy, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington Legislative Office, teamed up recently to discuss the issue of Internet privacy and to announce a joint effort to address this issue in an op-ed at Politico:

The essential elements of [the Electronic Communications Privacy Act] have not changed since 1986, and the courts have failed to keep pace, saying remarkably little about the Constitution’s application to new technology. Hence, the government can contend ECPA gives it the authority to ignore your privacy to an extent that would have shocked the framers of the Constitution.

Obama Wants a Look at Your Bank Account

The Obama regime is drawing up final plans to create a massive database and give access to it to government agencies. What will be in this new database?:

The Obama administration is drawing up plans to give all U.S. spy agencies full access to a massive database that contains financial data on American citizens and others who bank in the country, according to a Treasury Department document seen by Reuters.

The proposed plan represents a major step by U.S. intelligence agencies to spot and track down terrorist networks and crime syndicates by bringing together financial databanks, criminal records and military intelligence. The plan, which legal experts say is permissible under U.S. law, is nonetheless likely to trigger intense criticism from privacy advocates.

I guess due process and asking a judge for a warrant to get this information is apparently a thing of the past in this new “changed” America. With the continuing reckless disregard of the Constitution and traditional American liberties by the Obama regime, at this point the University of Chicago should offer full refunds to anyone who ever took a Constitutional law class taught by Barack Obama. But I digress.

The database is compiled by banks and other financial institutions who report “suspicious financial activity” to the Treasury Department:

Financial institutions that operate in the United States are required by law to file reports of “suspicious customer activity,” such as large money transfers or unusually structured bank accounts, to Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).The Federal Bureau of Investigation already has full access to the database.

Julie Borowski: “The government has no right to drone us. Pretty simple.”

Julie Borowski

On Thursday, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ) unleashed on their colleague, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who had the day before filibustered the confirmation of John Brennan to the CIA with an eloquent defense of the Constitution and due process in contrast to the possibility of a government that could kill its own citizens inside its own borders.

Graham and McCain, the latter of whom called Sen. Paul and his supporters “wacko birds,” are among the last of the neo-conservative, Bush-era guard in the Senate and were challenged unlike they ever have been before — and this challenge came from within their own party. They see President Barack Obama’s domestic surveillance and foreign policies as a continuation of the Bush Administration.

The Token Libertarian Girl, Julie Borowski, weighed in on what these two dinosaurs had to say about Sen. Paul and so-called “impressionable libertarian kids” in her latest it video. It’s worth a watch:

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