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The Constitution

I ran into this video today:

"How do you know if the Constitution has been perverted if you haven’t read it."

Politicians, especially conservative politicians, drive me crazy sometimes because they just blatantly ignore the Constitution. Conservatives drive me more crazy because they pretend to care about it.

Attorney General Holder recently make a distinction between “due process” and “judicial process” while justifying Obama’s killing of U.S. Citizens (terrorists) overseas. Frightening stuff (see this Colbert clip for an entertaining recap). Apparently due process can be “the president decides to kill you, and then does” and it’s “Constitutionally” considered “due process” by this administration. In this case this politician HAS read the Constitution and is trying to twist the words to subvert it.

Then you have people like Newt Gingrich, a supposed historian, who apparently has no clue what it says and/or doesn’t care. Actually, he probably DOES know what it says, but like the guy in the video suggests, knows people won’t challenge him because they have never read it.

“Any American, who actively advocates killing Americans, places themselves in our Constitution as a traitor,” Gingrich added. “The American who the president authorized killing in Yemen was an enemy combatant. Enemy combatants don’t get Miranda rights. I think it’s very important that this is a war…the president, in this one area, is right.” - Newt

Ok… they are a traitor according to the Constitution. True. But what does the Constitution ACTUALLY SAY about traitors NEWT!?

Article III, Section 3
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court. The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attained.

It’s not even an amendment, it’s just part of the body of the Constitution!

Filed under politics constitution newt gingrich Eric Holder

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Dear Ryan,

Here is part of an email I sent to my brother. He was concerned about Eric Holder’s speech the other day where he justifies killing U.S. citizens, differentiating for the first time, due process and judicial process. He’s not a libertarian, but has libertarian instincts I think. I’m trying to get through to him. :)

Ryan,

This country, as exemplified by Eric Holder’s speech, is going in the completely wrong direction. No candidate except Ron Paul, truly cares about the Constitution, nor has any serious plans about cutting the national deficit and reducing our debt. In fact, the others plans - while reducing taxes perhaps - actually increase our debt and the size of government.

A comment on the Eric Holder speech. I just finally saw a little bit of it in this Steven Colbert report. Sad this is where I have to go to get news like this. His justification is absolutely stunning. The Constitution specifies “due” process, which is different than “judicial” process? Wow.

If you were wondering what the other candidates think about killing American citizens without due process (or with due process, but no judicial process which is now ok apparently), here are their thoughts. Of course Ron Paul is the only candidate that questions the President’s actions, and Rick Santorum actually criticizes him for it.

Mitt Romney
“The killing of Anwar al-Awlaki is a major victory in our fight against Islamist terrorism and proper justice for the numerous attacks and plots he inspired or planned against America. I commend the President, the members of the intelligence community, our service members, and our allies for their continued efforts to keep Americans safe. Nevertheless, we must remain vigilant and continue the fight against those who seek to destroy us and our freedoms.”

Newt Gingrich
"Any American, who actively advocates killing Americans, places themselves in our Constitution as a traitor," Gingrich added. "The American who the president authorized killing in Yemen was an enemy combatant. Enemy combatants don’t get Miranda rights. I think it’s very important that this is a war…the president, in this one area, is right."

Oh Newt… if the U.S. suspects you of being a traitor, our Constitution actually DOES protect them. One would think, as such a well paid “historian”, you would realize this.

Article III, Section 3
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court. The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

Ron Paul
“I don’t think that’s a good way to deal with our problems,” Paul told reporters. “Al-Awlaki was born here; he is an American citizen. He was never tried or charged for any crimes. No one knows if he killed anybody. We know he might have been associated with the underwear bomber. But if the American people accept this blindly and casually that we now have an accepted practice of the president assassinating people who he thinks are bad guys, I think it’s sad.

"I think what would people have said about Timothy McVeigh? We didn’t assassinate him, who we were pretty certain that he had done it. Went and put through the courts then executed him. To start assassinating American citizens without charges, we should think very seriously about this."

Rick Santorum"Is anyone really surprised at this point? Ron Paul put up a commentary claiming the terrorist attacks of 9/11 were our own fault – and now, he’s condemning America for helping rid the world of a murderer," he said. "Awlaki’s actions against the US effectively renounced his citizenship, and he could and should be treated like any other terrorist. 

"This is the time to call on Congress and the President to amend the Immigration and Naturalization Act to provide for a renunciation of citizenship by action," he said. "I believe our country and the world are better off with the likes of Awlaki dead and I for one, congratulate the men and women in uniform who helped make this world safer."

Craig

I went on to explain how Ron Paul has actually doing pretty well in the primaries. On Super Tuesday, he actually got second place in three states, and virtually tied for second in a forth. I also shared Ron Paul’s delegate strategy with him.

If anyone is truly concerned about the direction of this country, there is only one voice for change and that is Ron Paul. Voting for any other candidate (with the exception of Gary Johnson perhaps), is a vote for more of the same.

Filed under libertarianism al-awlaki Eric Holder Judicial process vs. Due Process Constitution

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Supreme Court Justice Ginsberg: “I would not look to the U.S. Constitution, if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012”

Oyi. This is from someone who has sworn to uphold the very same Constitution she is bashing to foreigners. If ever there was reason to impeach a Supreme Court Justice, this should be it:

“I would not look to the U.S. Constitution, if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012,” Ginsburg told her foreign audience. Egypt needs a more recent document to work from, she believes, like South Africa’s constitution. South African law guarantees citizens the rights to housing, education and health care—all high-ranking items on the liberal agenda. South Africa’s free speech clause, on the other hand, is much more restrictive than the U.S. Constitution and could be used by oppressors as an easy excuse to squelch any expression deemed to be “controversial.”

“It really is a great piece of work,” Ginsburg said, referring to the South African document. As for America’s Constitution, it’s just too old, she told her Egyptian interviewers.

- U.S. Constitution Too Old, Ginsburg Says

Filed under politics constitution Supreme Court

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Why is Indefinite Detention Wrong?

Because sometimes we make mistakes, and it destroys people’s lives. This is why we have due process and a Constitution.

ON Wednesday, America’s detention camp at Guantánamo Bay will have been open for 10 years. For seven of them, I was held there without explanation or charge. During that time my daughters grew up without me. They were toddlers when I was imprisoned, and were never allowed to visit or speak to me by phone. Most of their letters were returned as “undeliverable,” and the few that I received were so thoroughly and thoughtlessly censored that their messages of love and support were lost.

Some American politicians say that people at Guantánamo are terrorists, but I have never been a terrorist. Had I been brought before a court when I was seized, my children’s lives would not have been torn apart, and my family would not have been thrown into poverty. It was only after the United States Supreme Court ordered the government to defend its actions before a federal judge that I was finally able to clear my name and be with them again.

Read the rest: My Guantánamo Nightmare

Filed under constitution Guantanamo

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Protecting Freedom By Taking It Away

Apparently, some Senators and Representatives want to make certain the President can kill U.S. citizens without repercussion.

U.S. Sen. Scott Brown is co-sponsoring a bill that would strip terrorists of their American citizenship if they are found guilty of conspiring against America after two accused homegrown terrorists were arrested in the Bay State.

- Scott Brown: Traitors can’t be citizens

The “Enemy Expatriation Act” would allow the State Department to revoke anyone’s citizenship who is “engaging in, or purposefully and materially supporting, hostilities against the United States.”

As Joe Lieberman puts it, “the repeated attempts by the now-deceased Al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Alwaqi to recruit other American citizens to strike our homeland demonstrates the necessity of updating our laws to account for an enemy who would subvert our freedoms to attack us.”

So in order to protect us from people subverting our freedom, Lieberman wants to preemptively subvert our freedom by taking away the protection of Constitution through expatriation. Um, thanks?

Treason committed by citizens is actually covered in the Constitution, and the definition of treason is very similar to the words used in the Enemy Expatriation Act . Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution states:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

If passed, I have little to no faith that it would be overturned by the courts on the grounds that it violates the Constitution. Too few people, politicians, and judges care about what the Constitution says anymore. This bill would clear the way for the President (any President) to do whatever he wanted with U.S. Citizens the government labeled as terrorists. Maybe it’s a permanent vacation to Guantanamo. Maybe it’s off to Syria for some enhanced interrogation. Or maybe it’s a predator drone strike killing you and whomever you’re with.

If this law passes, it will be the day the Constitution died.

Filed under constitution Al Awlaki politics Enemy Expatriation Act Scott Brown Joe Lieberman

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The Legal Rationale for Whacking Awlaki Is Flimsy

Frankly, I think the word “flimsy” is giving the Obama administration, the press, et al., a little too much credit.

According to the administration’s reasoning, the ban on assassinations applies only to killing political leaders during peacetime, not an enemy’s leaders during war. The killing was not “murder” for the same reason: “There’s a war on, for God’s sake!” As for the Fifth Amendment’s restriction on depriving people of life “without due process of law,” the legal reasoning also implies the war justification. The memo said that Awlaki was not entitled to the same due process as a person accused of a crime would have. It evidently cites past court cases that allowed U.S. citizens who joined an enemy’s forces to be tried in military tribunals, just like non-citizen enemies. (The Constitution requires criminal trials for all offenses, including treason [of which Awlaki might be guilty], with the only exception listed for courts martial of U.S. military personnel during war or time of danger; thus military tribunals of the enemy appear to be unconstitutional anytime.)

The problem with all of the above is that the U.S. is not legally at war with Awlaki or his organization, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The post-9/11 congressional resolution authorized the president to use force “against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons.” However, it has never been alleged that Awlaki had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks, and he is not even a member of al-Qaeda. He is a member of an al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen that has only a loose association with the main trunk of the group and has not been accused of complicity in the 9/11 attacks.

- The Legal Rationale for Whacking Awlaki Is Flimsy

Filed under politics Al Awlaki constitution

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American ‘Kill List’

So here is some more information on how one ends up on the list of Americans to be killed by order of the president: Secret panel can put Americans on “kill list’. Here is my favorite part…

Officials confirmed that a second American, Samir Khan, was killed in the drone attack that killed Awlaki. Khan had served as editor of Inspire, a glossy English-language magazine used by AQAP as a propaganda and recruitment vehicle.

But rather than being specifically targeted by drone operators, Khan was in the wrong place at the wrong time, officials said. Ruppersberger appeared to confirm that, saying Khan’s death was “collateral,” meaning he was not an intentional target of the drone strike.

So the second American killed was just ‘collateral’ which means he was basically guilty through association. Glad that got cleared up, I would hate for there to be any controversy on the second death.

Filed under politics 5th Amendment Constitution politics

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It’s Legal Because We Say It Is

This is an excerpt from NPR. I’m posting it because it’s typical of almost every news outlet. I’ve bolded the key part where NPR accepts the legality because the government said so. They are “clear” here.

SIMON: Let me ask you about the legal questions that have been raised, because yesterday voices from Ron Paul to the American Civil Liberties Union said it is illegal to target a U.S. citizen.

MARTIN: And this is a big debate. You know, on one side there is an argument that he is a citizen, he has legal rights. The ACLU actually had filed a lawsuit about a year on behalf of Awlaki’s father. It was thrown out and never really addressed the core question. But the ACLU put out a statement yesterday raising legal questions about Awlaki’s killing. But the U.S. government is clear here, Scott. They say this was legal. And this is what Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta actually said yesterday on CNN.

Secretary LEON PANETTA: If you’re a terrorist, you’re a terrorist. And that means that we have the ability to go after those who would threaten to attack the United States and kill Americans. There’s no question that the authority and the ability to go after a terrorist is there.

MARTIN: So, the U.S. government argues that when someone, even an American citizen, joins the enemy in an ongoing war against the U.S., that person becomes a legitimate target.

SIMON: NPR’s Rachel Martin. Thanks so much for coming by.

MARTIN: You’re welcome, Scott.

What shoddy journalism. The government told us it’s legal, so let’s not question it. They even said it on TV so it must be true.

Filed under journalism NPR Al-Awlaki Constitution

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U.S. Citizen Executed Without Trial

In the news today, Two U.S.-Born Terrorists Killed in CIA-Led Drone Attack. I understand that Anwar al-Awlaki has committed treason. I understand that people are afraid of terrorism. But regardless of his crimes, he was a U.S. citizen. What happened to all that stuff in the Constitution that was meant to protect us from this sort of thing?

Article III, Section 3
"Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court."

Were either of these men convicted of Treason? Or did the President of the United States just execute two citizens without a trial?

My guess is the only presidential candidate who will bother to question this action is Ron Paul. Ron Paul Slams Awlaki Killing: ‘He Was Never Tried Or Charged For Any Crimes’

UPDATE: Additional constitutional violations… obviously the Fifth Amendment “No person shall be deprived of life without due process of law” and possibly the First Amendment.

Filed under politics Ron Paul constitution