Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – “I’ve studied every single empire in the history of the world, about 72 before ours. It is impossible to conceive of a more awesome power than to endow one individual to look around the planet and exterminate anybody he decides needs extermination. Yet the Congress, other than Rand Paul, has been complacent and docile.” – Bruce Fein, Check out this Mike Church Show transcript for the rest…
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: Every once in a while, in addition to Edward Snowden, someone will come along like Senator Rand Paul. Senator Paul will actually be true to his convictions and his oath of office, as his father was, and he’ll start asking questions about these things. He’ll start saying: Hold on there, honcho, just hold your jets for a minute. Did I hear you say that you nominated this guy to be on the US Circuit Court of Appeals and this is the same cat that wrote the “it’s okay to have a kill list” memo and we’re not going to get to see the memo? To talk about this, I want to bring in the inimitable Bruce Fein. If you don’t know Mr. Fein, he was an official in the Justice Department during the Reagan administration. He appeared in April of 2010 at our Article V Amendment Convention symposium. He was one of our panelists. He really doesn’t need any introduction beyond that. Bruce, it’s always great to hear from you, old friend. How are you?
Bruce Fein: I’m doing well. You probably should alert your audience I represented Ed Snowden’s father, Lon, for several months seeking to arrange some kind of conditions enabling Ed to return and have a fair trial. The best we could extract was a promise he wouldn’t be tortured because there’s a torture convention, but anything else goes. That’s information your audience should know.
Mike: You just said that and now I remember back when this story was simmering, and that would have been in June 2013. I can remember the elder Snowden appearing on Fox News with you. I believe you were with him in some of those conferences, right?
Fein: Yes. We appeared on many shows, ABC with George Stephanopoulos This Week, NBC with Matt Lauer, three times in one week with Anderson Cooper on CNN. It was quite an experience there, and somewhat sobering to see the rather intransigent attitude of the Department of Justice. It was amazing when it seemed as though Vladimir Putin understood more the rule of law than our own government. That’s a pretty low standard to meet. What you said, Mike, is really quite alarming. It’s rather fascinating as well as harrowing to me, who lived through the Nixon impeachment when it was thought that a so-called cover-up of a third-rate burglary was an impeachable offense and drove a president from power.
Now we have a President of the United States who boasts of authority to secretly put on a kill list, and he’s done it at least four times with American citizens, to have them exterminated on his unilateral determination they’re an imminent threat to national security. Congress doesn’t review it. Judges don’t review it. The American people don’t review it. God doesn’t review it. It’s his decision alone. He never is accountable for it. I’ve studied every single empire in the history of the world, about 72 before ours. It is impossible to conceive of a more awesome power than to endow one individual to look around the planet and exterminate anybody he decides needs extermination. Yet the Congress, other than Rand Paul, has been complacent and docile. Even the American people, it’s rather shocking to me that that principle, which is far more powerful than any authority exercised by King George III, who we revolted against in 1776, in part for things like denying the right to a jury trial, sits with complacency at this unbelievable exaggeration of executive authority.
Mike: I was reading yesterday about Lord Cromwell and Charles I. I always wondered: Why did Patrick Henry say Charles I had his Cromwell. I read the story yesterday. Just what you said, Bruce, Cromwell and other Britons went: Dude, you can’t do that. You can’t just run around and kill people because you feel like it, and all the other things that Charles was doing. What did they do? Cromwell led an army against the king’s army, defeated the king, and ultimately the king was hanged. The House of Stewart was deposed. Even when there was an actual monarchy that was doing similar things, he, back in the 15th century, was told no by the people, right?
Fein: Correct. And moreover, Charles I at least had the semblance of a trial. When you’re exterminated by a Predator drone, there isn’t any trial at all. Cromwell did a little more due process than President Obama.
Mike: Bruce Fein is on the Dude Maker Hotline with us. Bruce, talk for a moment if you will, you mentioned Senator Paul. David Barron, a Harvard law professor has been nominated to the United States Court of Appeals in the First Circuit. You are intimately familiar with the Injustice Department and the way it’s supposed to work. Senator Paul has sent a letter to the president and to the majority leader of the Senate, Senator Reid, asking them to please share with the Senate of the United States the legal memos that were used to justify the kill list that you just talked about. Talk about this process — You’ve seen it from the inside before — the good points of Senator Paul’s efforts here, the bad, if there are any.
Fein: First, let me alert your readers, I wrote about this in defense of Senator Paul in the Huffington Post. It was posted on May 13th. Your readers may wish to get a full explanation there. The gist of Senator Paul’s justification is: How can he decide whether a nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit deserves confirmation without knowing what his views are on presidential assassinations? He is entrusted with that confirmation authority and every senator should be entitled to know. Legal views is certainly one that is most central to the safety of American citizens. Can the president kill you on his say-so alone?
It’s been said by some that the memos are something like attorney-client privilege, that he wrote them to his client, President Obama, and therefore it’s privileged. There are a couple of flaws in that analysis. First of all, your client, when I worked in OLC, the Office of Legal Counsel, your client is the Constitution of the United States, not who happens to be the incumbent there. You may recall in the famous Nixon tapes case, the United States was the Justice Department suing President Nixon as a president, seeking to uphold the Constitution and force him to disclose tapes that implicated him in criminal cover-up of Watergate.
Secondly, a president, even if their president is the client, clients can always waive the privilege. There’s no reason why, if President Obama wishes the confirmation, he waives the privilege and says go ahead and discuss it. It would seem to me the height of irresponsibility to vote to confirm a nominee to any federal bench without knowing his views on whether the president can kill us all without due process. I don’t see any reason why Senator Paul should budge until those memos are forthcoming. President Obama can do it tomorrow, just say: I waive the privilege, and hand over the memos.
Mike: The memos in question, there are believed to have been eleven. At least two of them are believed to have been attributed to David Barron. Just theorizing, you, Bruce Fein, you’re an expert in these matters, what on earth could he have conjured up? If you were Mr. Barron and you were working for President Obama — you worked for President Reagan. If they said: Mr. Fein, we’ve decided we’ve got to go kill this guy Gaddafi after the strikes on the Pan Am plane. We think he did it. We need a legal justification for the kill list and for Gaddafi’s henchmen. Can you produce me a memo? What could he possibly cite in the historical record of the United States that could have justified it?
Fein: This is what the general theory is. You know there was one leaked memo, first to the media and then it was released as well by the Senate Intelligence Committee that didn’t have a name on it. It gives you sort of an outline of what the theories are. It goes basically like this. After 9/11, 9/11 was an act of perpetual warfare. It was not initiated by a particular country. 9/11 wasn’t a declaration of war against an organization. It was against terrorism. Because terrorism can’t ever be extinguished, you’re at war forever. Secondly, because it can be used anywhere on the planet, the battlefield is everywhere, and therefore American citizens, like other persons, non-citizens, are on the battlefield since the planet is the battlefield. The president can pick and choose anybody he thinks on the battlefield who’s an imminent danger and there’s no judicial review. That’s the gist of it and it’s really quite alarming. It indicates we will be in this situation of presidential assassinations forever, no termination point.
Mike: Doesn’t that tell us a lot, too, about the alleged two-party system, that it’s really a one-party system and perhaps that’s why — you described the members of the House and other members of the Senate as being docile in this. Maybe it’s because they’re thinking: When our guy gets in there, yeah, we’re gonna want to use this. Why should I protest against it now? Am I just being cynical?
Fein: No, you’re absolutely right. This is an issue that has basically bipartisan support. It is frightening. There wasn’t any difference between Obama and Mitt Romney in the debates and in the campaign in 2012. This awesome presidential power, there’s no other term to describe it. That’s what makes, I think, Senator Paul’s stance so laudable. I wrote he’s like Horatius at the bridge. He’s trying to save the country from this despotism, whether it’s a Democrat or Republican in the White House. I’m hopeful that the American people will rally to his defense and the Senate of the United States will show backbone. I’ve often referred to it as an invertebrate branch, as indicative of how supine it is to presidential usurpations. This is coming close to home when it’s Americans themselves who are targeted by this limitless power.
End Mike Church Show Transcript