In a Sunday New York Times op-ed, Sen. Rand Paul called for transparency regarding the United State’s drone program and the barring of David J. Barron from a seat on the First Circuit Court of Appeals.
Barron wrote at least two legal memos to justify the killing of U.S. citizens overseas by drone strikes, without due process.
It is thought that Barron was responsible for the following legal justification of the drone strikes that killed Anwar al-Awlaki, an Islamic militant, and Samir Khan, the editor of the Al Qaeda magazine Inspire — both American citizens:
(1) the U.S. government has determined, after a thorough and careful review, that the individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States; (2) capture is not feasible; and (3) the operation would be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles.
“I believe that killing an American citizen without a trial is an extraordinary concept and deserves serious debate,” Rand Paul wrote.
“I agree with the A.C.L.U. that ‘no senator can meaningfully carry out his or her constitutional obligation to provide ‘advice and consent’ on this nomination to a lifetime position as a federal appellate judge without being able to read Mr. Barron’s most important and consequential legal writing.’”
Senator Paul pointed out that the Bill of Rights and the Fifth Amendment clearly outline due process and the necessity to protect an American’s right to a trial “however despicable.”
“The rule of law exists to protect those who are minorities by virtue of their skin color or their beliefs. That is why I am fighting this nomination. And I will do so until Mr. Barron frankly discusses his opinions on executing Americans without trial, and until the American people are able to participate in one of the most consequential debates in our history,” Paul wrote.
The drone strikes, Attorney General Eric Holder’s ambiguous letter concerning them and the nomination of John Brennan as CIA director were the motivation behind the Kentucky senator’s filibuster in March 2013. Paul believed that this was the kind of justification and precedent that could make domestic drone strikes possible.
“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 United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States,” Holder wrote in May of 2013.
Later, Holder definitively stated after the filibuster that the president does not have the authority to kill an unarmed American on American soil by drone.