Kucinich Legislation Ends the Extrajudicial Killing of U.S. Citizens

This posted at DandelionSalad, on the heels of growing expressions of disbelief turning to indignation that Obama has actually ordered this.  Keith Olbermann's take last Spring here, Ron Paul's speech on the House floor below.

Bill Protects Constitutional Right to a Fair Trial

Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) announced today that he will introduce legislation that would end the practice of targeting U.S. citizens for extrajudicial killing. Earlier this year, The Washington Post and The New York Times revealed that the Obama Administration was continuing the Bush-era policy of including U.S. citizens on lists of people to be assassinated without a trial. Kucinich has spoken out forcefully against revoking the basic constitutional rights of American citizens for simply being suspected of involvement with terrorism, and he is currently recruiting cosponsors for his bill.  "Congress has the responsibility to protect the rights of all U.S. citizens," wrote Kucinich.

The full text of the letter follows:

Dear Colleague:

Earlier this year, The Washington Post and The New York Times revealed that the Obama Administration was continuing a Bush-era policy of including U.S. citizens on lists of people to be assassinated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). These citizens have had no trial.

Under such a system, U.S. citizens are added to the list simply for being suspected of involvement in terrorism, in subversion of their basic constitutional rights and due process of law. Their right to a trial and to present a defense is summarily and anonymously stripped from them. Following the 2008 Supreme Court ruling that detainees being held indefinitely in Guantánamo Bay were to be afforded habeas corpus rights, thirty-three of thirty-nine detainees were ordered released on the grounds of insufficient evidence to support accusations of their involvement in terrorism. If a U.S. citizen is added to the targeted assassination lists based on accusations absent judicial review, their punishment is death.

In a hearing of the House Select Committee on Intelligence earlier this year, Director of National Intelligence Admiral Dennis C. Blair testified that the President authorizes such operations if it is deemed that they are seen to pose a "continuing and imminent threat to U.S. persons and interests." Leading legal scholars such as Bill Quigley, the Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions are among the legal voices challenging the legal authority for the U.S. government to conduct extrajudicial killings.

Intelligence operations that have virtually no transparency, accountability or oversight raise serious legal questions, particularly when the outcomes of such programs constitute possible violations of international law and violations of the Constitution of the United States. Congress has the responsibility to protect the rights of all U.S. citizens. We must reject the notion that protecting the constitutional rights of some citizens requires revoking the rights of other citizens. My legislation would reaffirm our commitment to upholding our nation’s basic constitutional principles, and prohibit the extrajudicial killing of United States citizens abroad.

Sincerely,
s
Dennis J. Kucinich
Member of Congress

TEXT OF BILL:  H. R. 6010 To prohibit the extrajudicial killing of United States citizens, and for other purposes.

Ron Paul on House Floor video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_7W0U_BuVU&

Republican presidential prospects in Iowa for 2012

The decision won't be final until the Republican National Committee's summer meeting in August, but it appears likely that the Iowa caucuses will remain the first presidential nominating contest in 2012. This week the RNC's Temporary Delegate Selection Committee recommended adopting a rule that would allow only Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada to hold primaries or caucuses before March 6, 2012. Click here to read the rule, which would also require all states that hold nominating contests before April 2010 to award their delegates proportionally, rather than through a winner-take-all system that is typical for the Republican Party.

So, Iowa will continue to be a frequent travel stop for Republicans considering a presidential bid. It's been six months since I last discussed the prospects of likely challengers to President Obama in Iowa. New speculation is after the jump.

There's more...

Reading the Tea Leaves: Will the Empire Break Up the Party?

Originally posted at FDL and OpenLeft

The Tea Party wants small government, right? Actually, it’s not so simple. In fact, you could drive a Bradley tank right through an ideological schism within the Tea Party.

On Tax Day, my CODEPINK colleagues and I conducted 50 interviews with Tea Party members about the cost of war and empire. With military spending eating up 20 percent of the federal budget and half of all discretionary spending, we figured that any serious effort to shrink government would have to deal with this bull in the china shop.

While a recent New York Times/CBS poll showed the Tea Partiers to be a relatively homogeneous group of older, white, mostly males, we found that this group certainly doesn’t speak with the same tongue when it comes to the U.S. role in the world. On one side are the neo-con interventionists who think the United States is God’s gift to the world. On the other side are non-interventionists who want to slay the warfare state. The extreme fissure is bound to upset the tea cart as more Tea Party leaders are forced to articulate their foreign policy positions.

There's more...

Weekend open thread

What's on your mind this weekend?

I am horrified by the plane crash that wiped out so many influential past and present citizens of Poland. If you're wondering why the Polish elite were flying on a Soviet aircraft, apparently it was faster than the planes other countries use for similar purposes.

Many prominent Iowa Republicans and candidates are attending Representative Steve "10 Worst" King's "Defenders of Freedom" dinner, featuring Representative Michele Bachmann. King grabbed the blogosphere's attention this week by slamming the Humane Society as "vegetarians with an agenda."

I've been reading some clips on the Southern Republican Leadership Conference this weekend. Although the event is in New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina was very much off the radar. Sarah Palin electrified the crowd yesterday, but the presidential straw poll ended up nearly tied between Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. I was amused to read this snapshot of Republican family values:

just overheard a mom tell her young daughter at #SRLC, "No, we don't support Medicaid. Medicaid is for losers."

Michael Steele seems secure in his job as Republican National Committee Chairman for now. 58 RNC members are publicly supporting him, "a tally that makes it mathematically impossible for Steele to be removed from his job before his term expires next year, barring some unforeseen implosion."

For the record, I wouldn't rule out an unforeseen implosion.

The floor is yours.

The New Republican Party Endorses Domestic Terror

It’s a sensationalist headline, I know. But it’s kind of true. I'm no hyper-partisan, but a spade's a spade and a Scott Brown quote is a Scott Brown quote.

The Tea Party-9/12 movement is increasingly a movement of violence. Maybe you consider the murders of Dr. Tiller and the Holocaust Museum guard part of that movement, maybe you don't, but the undeniably concrete examples are still plenty enough: guns outside presidential speeches, speakers and party chairs stating their desire to murder U.S. Senators, and now, a terrorist attack on federal offices in Austin, TX. And yet, as evidenced by Internet reactions, the tone of this year’s CPAC conference, and an interview with the newest U.S. Senator, the Republican Party’s latest incarnation is going out of its way to endorse the Tea Parties and thus, by extension, their violent methods.

After jumping the gun on the Kentucky census worker, I held off on blogging about the Austin attack on the IRS, but the facts are now in: suicidal murderer Joe Stack shared the rhetoric and views of the Tea Parties. And what’s the Republican Party’s reaction? Do they eschew this act of terror and finally stand up to the increasingly dangerous Tea Party rhetoric? Did they take a stand at CPAC? Not so much. According to Golden Boy and alleged “moderate” Senator Scott Brown (R-MA), the attack, while "tragic," isn’t anything to worry about because “no one likes paying taxes, obviously.” When asked his reaction to the murder and its motive, all he would say is that people are frustrated at the government.

So that’s the Republican Party’s new message on terrorism: it’s okay, as long as it’s aimed at American liberals. My, how patriotic of you.

To those who would say highlighting these events is just cherry-picking the fringe of the Tea Party movement, I have two answers. First, even if it is only a small, unrepresentative fringe spurned to violence by the fuller movement’s rhetoric, it is still that larger rhetoric that inspired it, and the results are still atrocious. I am reminded of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which holds racist groups legally accountable for the violent actions of their fringiest of fringe members.

But more importantly, I do believe that this violence truly is representative of a large swath of the Tea Party – perhaps not a majority, but certainly more than a fringe. One piece of evidence is the right-wing’s social networking reaction to the Austin IRS attack. Twitter was alive with support for Stack's terrorism, and over 2 dozen Facebook groups were created just to cheer the man.

Another is this video of Rachel Maddow’s coverage of the CPAC Conference, the conservative party’s annual confab turned this year into one giant Tea Party. Yes, it’s from a liberal source, but you can’t deny the point she makes at 6:30: the movement’s own literature showcases the images and rhetoric they otherwise try to convince us isn’t so representative.

There is, however, some solace. The danger of this movement is in its rhetoric and its ability to influence the Republican Party the way the religious right did until so very recently, but not in its ability to actually field its own successful candidates. The winner of the 2007, 2008, and 2009 CPAC presidential straw polls? Mitt Romney. The winner of the CPAC/Tea Party 2010 straw poll? Ron Paul. With the Tea Party in charge, CPAC and the conservative movement are clearly losing their ability to stay grounded in, their words not mine, “real America.” As Politico's Jonathan Martin Tweets, "Paul folks made something of an effort at straw poll. The inaction of others & these results won't augur well for future cpac s polls."

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