In 2013, I filibustered the nomination of CIA Director John Brennan. I did so to defend a core constitutional principle that has made America a leader among nations for as long as we have been a nation—the right to due process.
I wanted to know if President Obama believed he had the power to kill an American citizen without due process. It took me almost 13 hours to get my answer, but the Obama Administration finally relented.
They seemed annoyed I had even asked the question. I was flabbergasted that it took them so long to answer it.
I’m still not sure they completely get the message.
President Obama’s nomination of Judge David Barron to the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals is troubling because it relates directly, again, to the issue of whether this Administration believes we have a Fifth Amendment.
In 2010, Barron was the head of the Office of Legal Counsel, a group that dispenses legal advice to executive branch agencies. That year, Barron circulated a memo that authorized the extra-judicial killing of two American citizens, radical Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and Islamic extremist Samir Khan. Both would be assassinated by a CIA drone the following year.
I have no sympathy for al-Awlaki, Kahn, or others like them. But that does not mean the president or anyone else in government has the authority to kill an American citizen without due process where there isn’t an imminent threat.
Awlaki had been on a presidential “kill list” before his death, something Senator Ron Wyden had been trying to determine the legal rationale for. Sen. Wyden waited for over a year to see the Barron memo, and it was never fully disclosed.
To date, over 30 members of Congress have made multiple attempts to see this memo, and most have never seen it.
What is this Administration trying to hide?
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