Sen. Rand Paul told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that he plans to halt the appointment of David Barron to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals because he provided legal justification for the Yemen drone strike that killed American citizens without a trial.
Anwar al-Awlaki, an Islamic militant, and Samir Khan, the editor of the Al Qaeda magazine Inspire — both American citizens — were killed in September of 2011.
According to Reason, “David Barron reportedly drafted at least one secret memo approving of Anwar al-Awlaki’s killing.” Paul has said that he will retract his objection to Barron’s nomination if the DOJ makes public the secret memo(s) related to the case.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has pledged to comply with the records request, “consistent with the protection of national security.”
It is thought that Barron was responsible for the following legal justification of the drone strike, which can be found in the letter below:
(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.
Rand Paul has been a champion of due process and a vocal opponent of extra-judicial drone strikes on American citizens. Paul’s 13 hour filibuster of John Brennan’s nomination as CIA director last year was due in part to Attorney General Eric Holder making excuses for these types of drone policies in a letter to Paul.
“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.
Later, Holder definitively stated after the filibuster that the president doesn’t have the authority to kill an unarmed American on American soil by drone.
Paul considered that admission a victory and ended his filibuster.