Saturday, March 09, 2013

Expanding on Rand Paul: The Repudiation of the Unitary Executive and the Return of Congressional Oversight

In reply to: On Drones, It’s Paul vs. the Polls - Commentary Magazine, including the comment of Empress_Trudy.

Rand Paul's spoken point was a little silly; chances are slim any American president is going to order a drone strike on fellow Americans who disagree with his party's positions or US government policy. But I agree that the administration should've more clearly said so. (I suspect that they couldn't believe anyone aside the conspiracy nut fringes would think it possible...)

But I took his filibuster more broadly as a repudiation of the unitary executive theory and as a reassertion of Congress' place in the "checks and balance" between the branches of government. Drones are (or should be) just another tool in the defense arsenal, and I suspect few see them as more evil than other weapons. The problem is the lack of Congressional oversight and explicitly defined rules about their use. No President should be able to make a kill list--of anyone, no matter how objectively evil--and wipe people off the face of the Earth without oversight and input from the other branches of government.

Every President needs to answer to Congress, the judiciary, and the American people. There is no acting on one's own. There need to be clear rules, and oversight to make sure that the President and those who carry out the drone missions are abiding by them, just like with any other military mission (which is why they should be done by the military, rather than the CIA.)

But then, I'm a liberal, so what do I know...

I submitted this comment on Friday, 3/8/13, at about 5:00 PM. It apparently did not make it through moderation (which is a shame, because I think Commentary sometimes makes more sense than other Republican/conservative outlets, and often with less ad hominem attack, besides (even in the comments.) That the comment above was too... well ...anything for them to publish strikes me as awful curious, especially since I said very little that hasn't also been said by either a Commentary author or commenter. (The only thing that no one else has said is "I'm a liberal." It'd be pretty pathetic if that was the reason they didn't post my comment...)

Not the only one thinking this:
More oversight and disclosure on drones - The Washington Post
Obama faces turning point on administration drone policy - The Hill's DEFCON Hill
What Rand Paul and Ted Cruz Exposed About the Drone Strikes
And more, via memeorandum

Everything you need to know about the drone debate, in one FAQ

And finally, someone also brought up the point that Rand Paul and the Republicans and conservatives cheering for him give Obama room to satisfy those further to the left who've had concerns about the drone issue for a long time, without looking like he's catering to them. It's the same principle that says it had to be a Republican meeting and striking deals with China in the early 1970's as Nixon did. A Democrat would never've gotten away with it back here in the US. Something to consider, anyway...


Kevin Robbins said...

Meanwhile the NRA is defending the right of the average citizen to own and operate drones. It's OK as long as it's not the government cuz they're evil.

Hate these drones but they're one more step on the road we've been on for a century or two. It doesn't feel any better that it's Barack rather than Mitt or McCain at the helm.

Oh, and you might have tried, "but then, I'm a paleocon, so what do I know."

Happy Springtime JC.

W James Casper said...

I've always kinda thought the government IS the people, and answerable to other people (which is why I'd prefer that power rests in our hands, rather than corporate hands. We, the government have built-in oversight and are tasked with the betterment of us all. Corporations are tasked with making money, and are accountable to shareholders. While yes, the shareholders are people, they are a select group of people, not all the people.)

I don't like drones, exactly, but I think that like all tools of war, they are necessary. The tools aren't the problem; it's the people using them and the laws governing how, where, by who, etc that can be problematic.

Nukes and drones and the rest of the "controversial" weaponry really is the gun control debate writ larger. In both (all) cases there is a position between '"tool" (guns, drones, nukes) for everybody,' and 'ban all "tools!!!" There can be reasonable restrictions placed on who can own and operate these "tools," and definitions as to what conditions constitute legal and ethical usage and what does not. I don't want the people I consider enemies (or people who lack the intelligence or maturity to use them safely) to have these "tools," but I don't want to remove them from those who use them appropriately, either. (obviously, the rules will be different, depending on the tool. While I support the second amendment, I don't want every American citizen--no matter how law-abiding and patriotic--to be able to buy a nuclear warhead--or the delivery system for one, either.)

As to the paleocon bit... I would never, ever want to say that. While I can find small bits of merit in most rightwing philosophies (in that I think the "paleos" get to the heart of and absolutely skewer what's wrong with the "neos," and vice versa, pretty accurately) I find the cons--paleo, neo, "compassionate," etc--to be among the least palatable. I'd probably have to claim our friend's derisive "liberaltarian" moniker, if I had to choose a "rightwing" label at all...

Kevin Robbins said...

I end up hating myself over all this because I know that if it was George Bush doing drone strikes I would be more informed and more pissed off. By the same token the folks who are pissed at Obama for it would find it hunky dorey if it was a Repub prez. And parties and labels don't seem to mean much anymore, if they ever did (and I think they did at one time). But as I see at one of your links that Barbara Boxer and another Dem Senator have signed off on some "backdoor to war with Iran" bill. Keeping AIPAC happy being very important.

Chas Pierce has a 5 minute rule with the Paul's where they make sense for the first 5 minutes and then go off the rails. There seems to be stuff to like and dislike with all the pols. I'd like to think that Rand Paul's displeasure is genuine. I'd like to believe we will de-imperialize someday. If push came to shove I could see the drones used in this country. That's the reason I don't see much hope for the gun crowd who feel that if they arm themselves well enough they will be able to resist our "tyrannical" government. Wasn't sure about using those quote marks.

Anyway, it's a beautiful pre-Spring day outside and not a drone in sight.

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