Former Justice Department lawyer argued for right to kill Americans
May 8, 2014
Senator Rand Paul is winning support in the fight to release controversial Justice Department memos pertaining to using drone strikes against American citizens.
Today Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee said that he is also calling on the Senate to block the nomination of David Barron, the author of at least one of the memos, to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals by the Obama administration.
In his role as a lawyer at the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, Barron wrote a memo, and may have had a hand in at least nine others, that argue there is a legal right to target American citizens overseas with drone strikes.
“We know that the Department of Justice relied on the legal arguments Professor Barron formulated to justify the targeted killing of an American citizen in a tribal region of Yemen in September, 2011,” Senator Grassley said during a Senate floor speech, referring specifically referring to the assassination of the cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.
“This nomination cannot go forward unless this body – every member of this body – is given access to any and all secret legal opinions this nominee wrote on this critical issue,” Grassley added.
Grassley also urged other Senators to properly and thoroughly review Barron’s writings, which the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has already ordered the government to release.
“Are senators who are up for reelection in a few short months ready to vote on this nominee without knowing the full extent of his writings on a topic as serious as the killing of an American citizen by a drone?” he asked.
“Are those senators ready to go home to face their constituents and explain that they cast a vote on that nominee without knowing all the facts?” he added.
Rand Paul has been spearheading the effort to make the memos public, penning a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid saying that he will do everything in his power to stop Barron’s nomination until the memos are released.
“The constitutionality of this policy has been the subject of intense debate in our country since its implementation,” Paul wrote.
Paul has rejected an offer from The White House to let Senators read the memo. “A federal court has ordered the public release of a redacted legal memo authored by Barron and I believe that anything short of that is inadequate,” Paul said in a statement released Tuesday. “I will continue to oppose this nomination until the document is released.”
Paul’s efforts are also being supported by the ACLU. “There is no other president in modern American history who has ordered the killing of an American citizen away from a battlefield without a judicial order, and by extension, there is no other federal government lawyer in modern American history who authorized the killing of an American citizen away from a battlefield,” said Christopher Anders, an ACLU attorney and co-author of the organization’s letter to the Senate.
Grassley’s support of Paul’s efforts could now spur other Senators to get on board. Sens. Ron Wyden (Ore.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.) and Mark Udall (Colo.) have frequently objected to the use of drone strikes against American citizens by the government. If they can be swayed, Barron’s nomination could be used as a bargaining tool to get the memos into public hands.
President Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress and the mainstream media face a huge problem in House Speaker John Boehner’s decision to appoint a select committee headed by Rep. Trey Gowdy to investigate the Benghazi scandal.
Gowdy is a former prosecutor who has demonstrated beyond any doubt in his work on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that he means business. Don’t be deceived by the Southern manners and the “Yes Ma’ams” and “No sirs.”
So Democrats will spare no effort to make Gowdy’s life miserable and the work of the panel impossible to complete.
The Democrats’ response
White House spokesman Jay Carney and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi framed the Democratic strategy as soon as Boehner’s decision became clear.
Carney said “If you look at even what some Republicans have said, it certainly casts doubt on the legitimacy of an effort that is so partisan in nature.”
Even “some Republicans” question whether the select committee “is necessary after seven congressional committees and multiple investigations,” he added.
As for Pelosi, she initially hinted that House Democrats would boycott the panel, then demanded that Boehner appoint equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans as members.
Deny, Delay, Disrupt, Discredit
Neither the boycott threat nor the equal numbers demand were credible, so what to expect now that there will be seven GOP members of the select committee and five Democrats?
Between now and Election Day, the Obama White House will claim to be cooperating with the Gowdy panel even as it delays in every way possible providing either documents or witnesses.
Within the panel itself, there will be endless procedural controversies and debates over how the investigation should proceed, who should be subjected to depositions, and what witnesses to call for testimony.
Leaks about Gowdy’s alleged partisanship and hard-edged tactics will pour out of the minority side and be dutifully reported by the mainstream media.
Once the November election is over, there will be pressure on Republicans to wrap up the panel before the new Congress convenes. Whether that happens will depend primarily on the election results.
But in any case, Democrats will seek to discredit the panel’s work after the election and will demand that it be closed so the new Congress can “move on” to more important issues.
In the meantime, Gowdy will be profiled throughout the mainstream media as the panel is assembled. It will not be a complimentary framing of the South Carolinian.
The IRS has finally agreed to hand over all of ex-IRS official Lois Lerner’s emails to the House Committee on Ways and Means, The Daily Caller has learned.
New IRS commissioner John Koskninen previously said that it could take years to provide all of Lerner’s emails to congressional investigators. But Ways and Means’ referral of criminal charges against Lerner to the Department of Justice, coupled with the House of Representatives’ holding Lerner in contempt of Congress Wednesday, has changed the tenor of the investigation into the IRS conservative targeting scandal.
“While it is good that we are finally getting these emails, it should never have taken this long. The agency is finally doing what is right and hopefully this is the last of the delays,” House Ways and Means chairman Rep. Dave Camp said in a statement.
“It is almost a year to the day since Lois Lerner ‘apologized’ for the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups, and we need to get to the bottom of this,” Camp said. “These documents are critical to an investigation that is holding the IRS accountable and ensuring the constitutional rights of these groups are never trampled on again. The Committee will thoroughly review the Lerner documents and follow them wherever they may lead.”
As Washington-based director of exempt organizations for the IRS, Lerner oversaw the improper targeting of conservative groups between 2010 and 2012. Lerner has thus far refused to answer congressional investigators’ questions about her conduct.
The Daily Caller has reported on emails showing Lerner coordinating with White House officials, the Department of Justice, the Federal Election Commission, and the Treasury Department.
(The Hill) – The Obama administration announced Wednesday it would issue new guidance requiring U.S. schools to provide equal education to all children, regardless of their immigration status.
Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan are expected to detail the proposal Thursday morning during a conference call with reporters.
The Justice and Education departments sought through 2011 guidance to ensure equal treatment for children living in the U.S. illegally in accordance with the Supreme Court’s 1982 Plyler vs. Doe ruling, which prohibited a school district from charging illegal immigrants extra tuition fees.
“The Obama administration continues to receive reports that school districts are adopting policies and practices that have the effect of discouraging, and in some cases preventing, undocumented children and children from immigrant families from enrolling in public schools,” the Justice Department said in announcing the follow-up guidance. “The new guidance is intended to help address these issues.“
The updated guidance is intended to help schools understand their responsibilities under Plyler vs. Doe and other federal civil rights laws.