The latest conspiracy theory concerning President Obama has reared its head in the form of a letter from Eric Holder, Attorney General, to Rand Paul, Tea Party Senator from Kentucky. Senator Paul asked the administration whether “the President had the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a US citizen, on US soil, and without a trial.” This is an attempt by Senator Paul to catch the administration in a sound bite that he can use to make it seem as if President Obama is continuing his attempt to become a dictator by randomly killing Us citizens as he sees fit.
First, let’s examine Eric Holder’s response. It is as follows:
” As members of this administration have previously indicated, the US government has not carried out drone strikes in the United States and has no intention of dong so. As a policy matter, moreover, we reject the use of military force where well-established law enforcement authorities in this country provide the best means for incapacitating a terrorist threat. We have a long history of using the criminal justice system to incapacitate individuals located within our country who pose a threat to the United State and our interests abroad. Hundreds of individuals have been arrested and convicted of terrorism-related offenses in our federal courts.
The question you have posed is therefore entirely hypothetical, unlikely to occur, and one we hope no President will have to confront. It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the audited State for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States. For example, the President could conceivably have no choice but to authorize the military to use such forces necessary to protect the homeland in the circumstances of catastrophic attack like the ones suffered on December 7th, 1941 and September 11th, 2001.”
Nowhere in Eric Holder’s comments does he mention the killing of US citizens, but rather specifically points out the use of force to defend against terrorists. Nowhere in Eric Holder’s comments does it mention using military force against anyone in the Inited States randomly, but rather outlines actual examples of circumstances where it would be considered, and those examples are the Pearl Harbor attack and the 9/11 attacks. The only person who uses terms like “on US citizens” is, in fact, Senator Paul. The circumstances and possibilities that Eric Holder cite as examples of when the President may consider such actions are not only completely valid circumstances, but historically, it has taken less than that for a President to authorize the military to use force against its own citizens in the past. Case in point: the LA riots of 1992, also known as the “Rodney King Riots”.
Now, what you will hear quite a. It of is that President Obama is a socialist dictator who just wants unmilitary power and is doing whatever he wants to get that power, including ignoring the constitution. Lets examine this notion. The Posse Comitatus act, which is the law that limits the power of the federal government from using federal military personnel from to enact state laws, was passed in 1878. The original act referred largely to the United States Army. The Air Force was added in 1956 and the Navy and Marine Corps have been included as a regulation of the Department of Defense. The Coast Guard is not included. On September 26, 2096, President Bush urged Congress to consider revising federal laws so that the US armed force scoular restore public order and enforce laws in the aftermath of a natural disaster, terrorist attack or other condition. That last part…..”or other condition”….is pretty vague, don’t you think? You will never hear a Reublican say that President Bush wanting such powers as a socialistic, dictator-like move. No, no…..with President Bush it was just good policy. Well, the changes President Bush wanted were proposed in John Warner National Defense Authorization Act and was signed into law in October 2096 by…..wait for it….President Bush. It provided that:
“The President may employ the armed forces… to… restore public order and enforce the laws of the United States when, as a result of a natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition… the President determines that… domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the State or possession are incapable of maintaining public order… or [to] suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy if such… a condition… so hinders the execution of the laws… that any part or class of its people is deprived of a right, privilege, immunity, or protection named in the Constitution and secured by law… or opposes or obstructs the execution of the laws of the United States or impedes the course of justice under those laws.”
In 2011, President Obama signed National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 into law. Section 1031, clause “b”, article 2 defines a ‘covered person’, i.e., someone possibly subject to martial law, as the following: “A person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.” Now which one sounds like a President trying to grab more power and which one sounds like a President trying to limit, and further elaborate on, the power the President has to do these things?
See, as I mentioned before, this is an attempt by Senator Paul to get a red-meat sound bite that he can’t grow at the overtly hostile base of there Republican party to further advance the delusional notion that President Obama isn’t an American. That he hates the Constitution. That he wants unlimited power. It simply isn’t true. The fact is that exceptions have been made in the last for the use of our military within our borders, and that it has in fact been the republicans, not the democrats, who have pushed for more power, while the democrats have acted to limit that power. This is yet another example of the political right in this country being co-opted by far right wing extremists and ideologues. Do your own homework. Do not listen to the powers that be, and you will find the truth.