We Take Care of Our Own: Eric Holder and the End of Rights

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Well I never thought I’d be posting an article from the Huffington Post,but I am.

Attorney General Eric Holder was at Northwestern University law school Monday explaining President Barack Obama’s claimed authority to kill any American if he unilaterally determines them to be a threat to the nation. The choice of a law school was a curious place for discussion of authoritarian powers. Obama has replaced the constitutional protections afforded to citizens with a “trust me” pledge that Holder repeated Monday at Northwestern.

Peter Van Buren

Fmr. State Department Iraq PRT        leader; Author, ‘We Meant Well

Historians of the future, if they are not imprisoned for saying so, will trace the end of America’s democratic experiment to the fearful days immediately after 9/11, what Bruce Springsteen called the days of the empty sky, when frightened, small men named Bush and Cheney made the first decisions to abandon the Constitution in the name of freedom and created a new version of the security state with the Patriot Act, Guantanamo, secret prisons and sanctioned torture by the U.S. government. They proceeded carefully, making sure that lawyers in their employ sanctioned each dark act, much as kings in old Europe used the church to justify their own actions.

Those same historians will remark from exile on the irony that such horrendous policies were not only upheld by Obama, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and professor of Constitutional law, but added to until we came to the place we sadly occupy today: the Attorney General of the United States, Eric Holder, publicly stating that the American Government may murder one of its own citizens when it wishes to do so, and that the requirements of due process enshrined in the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment, itself drawn from the Magna Carta that was the first reflowering of basic human rights since the Greeks, can be satisfied simply by a decision by that same president.

Yesterday will thus be remembered as the day we gave up. No more clever wordplay (enhanced interrogations, “patriot” act, targeted killing, kinetic operations) but a simple declaration that the U.S. government will kill its own citizens when it wishes to, via a secret process we, and our victims, are not allowed to know or contest.

Brevity in Our Freedom

Like most of the Bill of Rights, the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution is beautiful in its brevity and clarity. When you are saying something true, pure, clean and right, you often do not need many words: “… nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

There are no footnotes in the Fifth Amendment, no caveats, no secret memos, no exceptions for war, terrorism, mass rape, creation of concentration camps, acts of genocide, child torture or any evil. Those things are unnecessary, because in the beauty of what Lincoln offered to his audience as “a government of the people, by the people, for the people,” the government would be made up of us, the purpose of government was to serve us, and the government would be beholden to us. Such a government would be incapable of killing its own citizens without care and debate and open trial.

Fear Shaped by Lies to Compel Compliance

In his speech, Attorney General Holder said things no honest man would ever believe would be said by the highest law officer in the United States.

Holder said “that a careful and thorough executive branch review of the facts in a case amounts to ‘due process’ and that the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment protection against depriving a citizen of his or her life without due process of law does not mandate a ‘judicial process.'”

Holder thus also declaimed that the victim also has no right to a defense, no right to speak on his behalf, no right to examine and refute the evidence against him and no right even to know his life will be taken under the decision of a few men in Washington. Indeed, Holder made clear that the government’s decision to kill overshadowed the right to self-defense in saying “An individual’s interest in making sure that the government does not target him erroneously could not be more significant. Yet it is imperative for the government to counter threats posed by senior operational leaders of al Qaeda, and to protect the innocent people whose lives could be lost in their attacks.”

Holder said he rejected any attempt to label such operations assassinations, invoking the same airbrush of lawfulness that fueled the Inquisition, the Salem Witch Trials and the Holocaust. “Assassinations are unlawful killings. The U.S. government’s use of lethal force in self-defense against a leader of al Qaeda or an associated force who presents an imminent threat of violent attack would not be unlawful.”

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Mitt Romney Touted the Individual Mandate as an Example for the Nation as Recently as 2009

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Mitt Romney had his own Romneycare in Massachusetts and was the model for Obamacare….do you really think Romney will repeal Obamacare?

You may recall from the 20 GOP presidential debates this season that front-runner Mitt Romney is fond of talking abouthis signature Romneycare initiative in Massachusetts with formulations such as this:

I’ve made it very clear [….] this is something that was crafted for Massachusetts. It would be wrong to adopt this as a nation.

You may also recall, through our coverage here at Reason, that this claim is a provable lie. The latest evidence for which is this July 2009 Romney op-ed in USA Today that’s been making the rounds. Headline (emphasis mine): “Mr. President, what’s the rush? Obama could learn a thing or two about health care reform from Massachusetts. One, time is not the enemy. Two, neither are the Republicans.”

Relevant section, with my bolding:

For health care reform to succeed in Washington, the president must finally do what he promised during the campaign: Work with Republicans as well as Democrats.

Massachusetts also proved that you don’t need government insurance. Our citizens purchase private, free-market medical insurance. There is no “public option.” With more than 1,300 health insurance companies, a federal government insurance company isn’t necessary. It would inevitably lead to massive taxpayer subsidies, to lobbyist-inspired coverage mandates and to the liberals’ dream: a European-style single-payer system. To find common ground with skeptical Republicans and conservative Democrats, the president will have to jettison left-wing ideology for practicality and dump the public option.

Our experience also demonstrates that getting every citizen insured doesn’t have to break the bank. First, we established incentives for those who were uninsured to buy insurance. Using tax penalties, as we did, or tax credits, as others have proposed, encourages “free riders” to take responsibility for themselves rather than pass their medical costs on to others. This doesn’t cost the government a single dollar. Second, we helped pay for our new program by ending an old one — something government should do more often. The federal government sends an estimated $42 billion to hospitals that care for the poor: Use those funds instead to help the poor buy private insurance, as we did.

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Camp Shelby selected as new Guard drone center

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This is from the Army Times folks……not Alex Jones!

The nation’s largest, state-owned and operated military training site in America just added what initially is expected to be a $48-million feather to its cap.

Camp Shelby was selected as the site of a new regional flight center for the Army National Guard’s Unmanned Aircraft System.

Shelby, which was selected from among 19 sites nationally, has welcomed many Tactical Unmanned Air System units for training prior to overseas deployment, and is home to a company of the 155th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, which has one of the Army’s 30 TUAS units placed nationwide.

But the regional flight center will remain an active training center in times of peace as well.

“The training at this site is not going to be tied to mobilization,” said retired Lt. Col. Timothy Powell, spokesman for the Mississippi Army National Guard. “This is going to train soldiers from all over the country in the operation of the UAS.

“As long as there are units mobilizing at Camp Shelby, they still will be trained there prior to their deployment. But this is another permanent, training school, another regional activity, added to Camp Shelby. This is a big deal.”

The center is expected to open by year’s end.

Palazzo said the new mission for Camp Shelby would dovetail well with South Mississippi’s emergence as a leader in UAS technology, which uses unmanned air vehicles — or drones — for a variety of military-related missions.

“This center will exponentially increase the value we already have in (Camp Shelby’s) Hagler Airfield, and the work that is done at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems’ Unmanned Systems Center in Moss Point,” Palazzo said in the statement.

The Moss Point site manufactures UAS products for the Fire Scout, Global Hawk and Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) programs.

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