"Hypothetically," a drone strike carried out with the intention to kill an American citizen on U.S. soil would be perfectly "legal," according to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Naturally, he included the qualification that the Obama Administration has no "intention" of ever doing such a thing. Still, was there the hint of a gleam in his eye?
What a relief that such a blockheaded assertion didn't escape the lips of, say, John Ashcroft.
What Mr. Holder is saying is that law-abiding American Neaderthals can't be trusted to own light-weight, accurate, military-style, semi-automatic AR-15s with high-capacity magazines. But under "extraordinary circumstances," the U.S. Attorney General may legally decide to use a drone to seek out an American citizen, kill him on U.S. soil, and summarily assume the roles of judge, jury, and executioner? No questions asked?
How surprising. Consider that Eric Holder believes that light-weight-accurate, military-style, semi-automatic AR-15s (and other so-called "assault" rifles) with high-capacity magazines belong only in the hands of the "experts." For him, the "experts" range from the military, and the police, and include Mexican drug cartels, as well as Muslim Brotherhood terro- er - freedom fighters. 70-80 million law-abiding American gun-owners, however, are potential criminals. What a crock.
Senator Rand Paul called Mr. Holder's misguided affirmation "an affront on the constitutional due process rights of all Americans," as indeed it is. One would think that the top law-enforcement official in the United States wouldn't need to have that pointed out to him.
Yet, Mr. Paul doesn't have to look far to find precedents. All he needs is his good memory.
On October 24, 1989, Randy Weaver sold two shotguns to "a good friend" who turned out to be an ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms) informer. The man had instructed Mr. Weaver to illegally shorten the barrels, which he did, which might also be called "entrapment" in a court of law. Mr. Weaver failed to show up in court to answer the charges, and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
On August 21, 1992, U.S. Marshalls encountered Mr. Weaver on a road near Mr. Weaver's cabin at Ruby Ridge. With Mr. Weaver were his 14 year-old son, Sammy, family friend Kevin Harrison, and the family dog, Striker. One of the marshalls shot Striker to death. Sammy Weaver fired back at the shooter and a general melee ensued. Sammy and U.S. Marshall Michael Dever were killed in the gunfight. Weaver and Harrison retreated to the cabin and the resulting standoff lasted nine days.
The FBI joined in the siege on August 22. On that day, Weaver, Harrison, and Weaver's daughter, Sarah, left the cabin. They were going to the shed where Sammy's body lay, in order to prepare it for burial.
FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi opened fire from 200 yards away. He later alleged that he thought that Mr. Harrison was going to fire on a nearby helicopter. The shot hit Randy Weaver and the party ran for the cabin.
Horiuchi fired again, this time wounding Mr. Harrison. Behind the cabin door, holding it open with one hand was Mr. Weaver's wife, Vicki. In her other hand, Mrs. Weaver was holding her baby. Horiuchi's next shot killed her. He claimed that he didn't know that Mrs. Weaver was behind the door.
Randy Weaver was a white-separatist. He was painted in the unquestioning liberal/socialist/Democrat (LSD) Mainstream Media as a racist and an anti-semite. His plywood cabin housed an arsenal of 15 weapons with "armor piercing" ammunition. It somehow became a fortress every bit as formidable as a German pillbox on Omaha Beach.
Weaver and Harrison were acquitted of all charges except the original one of selling two illegally sawed-off shotguns. Mr. Weaver did time for that one.
Though he'd violated the two most important rules of engagement, i.e. 1.) never point a firearm at someone unless you intend to kill him, and 2.) be sure of who or what the target is that you're shooting at, manslaughter charges were dropped against Horiuchi in 1998. He was part of a government operation, and therefore immune from prosecution. Too bad.
A precedent perhaps even more stark was set only a few months later. On February 28, 1993, in search of alleged illegal weapons and explosives, the ATF raided the Branch Davidian compound at Mt. Carmel, in Waco Texas. In the gunfight that followed, four ATF agents and six Branch Davidians were killed.
Branch Davidian leader, David Koresh had several wives, some as young as 12 or 13 years old. He'd fathered 12 children by them. Allegations of child abuse weren't far behind the illegal gun and explosives charges. The children had to be saved.
On April 18, U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno approved a tear gas assault on the compound and the next day, two FBI combat vehicles supported by Bradley tanks went in. Firing tear gas canisters through the windows and knocking down walls, the inevitable fire broke out. Koresh and 80 of his followers died, including 22 children.
The FBI and the Justice Department accused the Branch Davidians of setting the fire. They did, in fact, refuse to come out of the burning building, but given the scope of what was going on outside, who can blame them? They were, after all, being attacked by agents of their own government supported with tanks and tear gas grenades. The Branch Davidian survivors, too terrified to run from the building, denied setting the fire.
It's undeniable that David Koresh was "marrying" teenage girls and having children by them. To most of us, he was a bad guy. Maybe he got what was coming to him. On the other hand, he might sincerely have believed in the religion that he professed. Maybe he didn't see himself as doing wrong. Whatever he believed, he deserved a fair trial, and though he didn't get one, possibly because of "extraordinary circumstances," Janet Reno kept her job.
Eric Holder would have no fear of losing his under similar "extraordinary circumstances."