Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – We now have reached the juncture in our concurrent evolution as citizens where one of the functions of our government is to kill our own citizenry? Really? Every government has to do that. There are loose cannons in every country out there. Of course governments have to have assassination power. Why? What on Earth could possibly make a citizen commit so grave of a crime that it become necessary to assassinate he or she? Check out today’s audio and transcript for the rest…
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: Another story that is worthy of our attention today, I believe, is a CNN story. Here’s the headline: “Holder: Drone strike against Americans in the U.S. possible.” Wait a minute now. All the decepticons out there said it was impossible. No one on American soil is ever going to be deprived of their civil liberties. That could never happen. Of course we’ll have due process here. We may drop the hammer, a bomb as we call it, on a couple hundred a year living abroad somewhere. That’s all fine and dandy, but it’ll never happen in Seattle. It’ll never happen in Austin, Texas.
Attorney General Eric Holder Tuesday stopped short of entirely ruling out a drone strike against an American citizen on U.S. soil—without trial.
Holder’s comment came in a letter to Sen. Rand Paul. Paul had sent a letter to President Obama’s CIA director nominee John Brennan asking for the administration’s views on the president’s power to authorize lethal force. [Mike: I have a copy of the letter.]
In the letter, Holder said “It is possible I suppose to imagine an extraordinary circumstance [Mike: It’s always an extraordinary circumstance. Do you think the family of Brian Terry would be willing to extend extraordinary circumstance protection in the fast and furious debacle that cost their son his life? Just asking.] 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. “
In a separate letter, Brennan told Paul that the CIA has no such authority.
Mike: Who’s right about this? Is Eric Holder correct or is John Brennan correct, or are neither of them correct? Why is this being asked? We now have reached the juncture in our concurrent evolution as citizens where one of the functions of our government is to kill our own citizenry? Really? Every government has to do that. There are loose cannons in every country out there. Of course governments have to have assassination power. Why? What on Earth could possibly make a citizen commit so grave of a crime that it become necessary to assassinate he or she?
There are questions here about this that no one seems to be asking, so I’ll give it a go. Under what pretense and for what purpose do we find that our magisterial national legislature seeks the power to eliminate problem citizens? Did the problem citizen come about after a chain of events or is the problem citizen just something that maybe we ought to have a contingency plan to deal with in case it ever happens? You know that the men that frame the Constitution actually did consider what would happen if there were a “problem citizen” or a citizen who “doesn’t get along well with others,” considered by many of us as obnoxious. What would happen if we had problem citizens? What would happen if they committed treason?
Back in the 18th century, the sentence for treason was usually death, and usually a horrific death. They wouldn’t just kill you. They’d cut a couple hands off, lay you down on one of these cross-looking things and hold your arms out at your side so that you cannot move them and so that the axmen can get a good bead on your hand and they’d whack your hand off. If that didn’t drag a confession out of you that you committed treason, they’d whack your feet off. This is where the expression “I’d give my right arm” comes from. People actually did. There was a consideration that we could have rogue citizens and it may be necessary to deal with them.
In the foundational document known as the U.S. Constitution, what was the proposed method of dealing with these people? We had this thing called treason. If you commit treason, and if the government can find two witnesses that say they saw you commit treason, then we can try you and then Congress can proscribe a method of dealing with you, and the method can be death, by drone if you want, I suppose. If you have two witnesses, then you can be placed into a trial. If you’re found guilty, instead of having an execution or cutting your hands and feet off, they could just corral you into a hundred foot by hundred foot wide enclave where it was open to the sky but there were walls and you couldn’t get out. We’ll just fly a drone overhead of that thing. Some guy from a remote location somewhere in the New Mexico desert will drop ordnance on you and bam, done, problem solved.
We have this news here today with the attorney general saying he can imagine a scenario under which an American citizen can be targeted by a drone strike on American soil. Can you imagine you go to a barbecue, the neighbors to go hang out one weekend in the next year or so? You ask one of your neighbors, [mocking] “What happened to Ernie down the street? I haven’t seen him in a while.” — “Oh, Ernie? They kind of leveled his house with one of them, whatcha call ‘em, drone things. If you go around the corner, you can see it. I’ll take ya. See over there?” — “I don’t see anything, man. There’s nothing there.” — “Right, well, there used to be three houses there. They kind of just flattened it like a pancake. The feds came in and bulldozed the whole thing, took it away in four days so no one would ever know the houses were there.” — “Well, did anyone live nearby?” — “Well, yeah, of course he had neighbors.” — “Well, what happened to them?” — “I don’t know, we haven’t seen them either.” — “You don’t have a problem with that?” — “They told us not to say anything. I was informed it was for our own good. Look, I’m not one to start trouble, pal. If you want to start trouble, you may be at the wrong party.”
Far-fetched, fantastical, could never happen? That’s probably what they said in Germany right around 1936. It’s probably what they said in Stalin’s Russia. It’s probably what they said in Cuba. It’s probably what they said in life under the Khmer Rouge. It’s probably what they said living under Nicolae Ceausescu. It’s probably what they said living under Mussolini. The list can go on. [mocking] “It could never happen here. They told us it was for our own good.” We now use lethal power. At least we have the admission from Eric Holder. Here is what Holder wrote to Rand Paul:
On February 20, 2013, you wrote to John Brennan requesting additional information concerning the Administration’s views about whether “the President has the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, and without trial.”
As members of this Administration have previously indicated, the U.S. government has not carried out drone strikes in the United States and has no intention of doing so. As a policy matter moreover, we reject the use of military force where well-established law enforcement authorities in this country provide the best means of incapacitating a terrorist threat. We have a long history of using the criminal justice system…
The question you have posed is therefore entirely hypothetical, unlikely to occur, and one we hope no President will ever have to confront. It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstances 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. For example, the President could conceivably have no choice but to authorize the military to use such force if necessary to protect the homeland in the circumstances of a catastrophic attack like the ones suffered on December 7, 1941, and September 11, 2001.
Mike: That would be an act of war.
End Mike Church Show Transcript