Targeted Killings: When John Cornyn Makes Better Sense than Democrats …

Things got a little crazy when the Senate Judiciary Committee FISA Amendment Markup turned to targeted killing.

John Cornyn used the opportunity of this must-pass intelligence bill to propose an amendment to require the Administration to share its authorization for targeting killing. Cornyn rather modestly said that “I think all of troubled w/o further explanation” for the authority. [All quotes in this post are my inexact transcription] Chuck Grassley went further, saying something to the effect of “We [the Administration] has got a license to kill, and we don’t know about that license and we won’t get it until we legislate it.”

But Democrats prevented Cornyn and Grassley from attaching legislation mandating the Administration share the authorization with Congress.

Now, Cornyn claimed (incorrectly, given his inaction on Bush’s torture and wiretapping) that he wasn’t pushing for legislation on this just because the President is a Democrat; he would have done so if the President were a Republican too. To which Dick Durbin reminded him of all the times he refused to back legislation requiring oversight and transparency under Bush.

Which was Dick Durbin’s opportunity to call for writing a letter on this issue rather than legislating. Pat Leahy suggested he could just use his letter, which was already sent and ignored. Then Grassley reminded he has sent a letter on this subject too, and been ignored.

It was a bunch of Senators recounting the number of letters demanding oversight into the President’s unchecked authority to kill, including American citizens, only to be blown off. America, fuck yeah!

Again, John Cornyn came off sounding like the adult. “We’re not mere supplicants of the Executive Branch. It is insufficient to say, “Pretty please, Mr President, please tell us about the legal authorization.”

Nevertheless, that didn’t prevent Dianne Feinstein from promising that the Senate Intelligence Committee would include language about this in their authorization, and insisting that they let SSCI, not SJC, impose requirements. She suggested (though did not make explicit) that such a requirement belongs in SSCI because targeted killing is a covert program. Which is how the entire effort got tabled, leaving everyone to write more letters.

Cornyn had one more measure, requiring the President provide notice to the Gang of Eight. Dianne Feinstein, as she has repeatedly, assured her colleagues that she and Saxby Chambliss provide all the oversight on this front that is needed. To which Cornyn asked, “Is notice of targeted killing given before or after killing?” DiFi responded, “Sometimes before, sometimes during, sometimes just after.” Cornyn replied, “I don’t think Congress should delegate all authority to one or two members. Make sure not just you, but bicameral gang of eight.”

Curiously, DiFI had no response to that, leaving the impression that the Obama Administration, even on the matter of targeted killing of US citizens, has continued the Bush Administration violation of the National Security Act by briefing just the Gang of Four, not the Gang of Eight (which would add Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, and Mitch McConnell to the Intelligence Committee heads being briefed).

But again, Democrats voted to table that amendment on a party line vote.

This is a problem. Not only is it taking legislation to even get the Senate Intelligence Committee adequately briefed on this topic, but Democrats are using partisan obstruction to prevent the Judiciary Committee from learning enough to assess for themselves whether the targeted killing of a US citizen violates the Constitution.

Tweet about this on Twitter16Share on Reddit0Share on Facebook32Google+0Email to someone

3 Responses to Targeted Killings: When John Cornyn Makes Better Sense than Democrats …

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz @Johngcole It's not enough; Madam Secretary is horrible.
3hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @rdevro I'm going to ask @Ali_Gharib to come out here and work with me and try to restore my patriotism.
3hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @NoahShachtman: The US just simultaneously bombed opposing sides in a war. That's how f'ing crazy this #Syria conflict is.
3hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz Now @CNN expert saying how amazing how pinpointed ISIS in so many locations. Cause, you know, we'd never blast a bunch of innocent civilians
3hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz "Military expert" on @CNN says "important to note tonight is bigger than before". Pee Wee Herman could give better analysis.
3hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @LegallyErin Totally.
3hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @SeriousOne1975 @csoghoian Definitely sparkly though.
3hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @LegallyErin They need to give Mary Louise Parker her finger back.#Blacklist
3hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @SeriousOne1975 @csoghoian Not sure yet. Am just starting to shop.
3hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @rdevro @Ali_Gharib Well, golly, I'd like to and all, as you know, but not so much.
3hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @Merriiman No, we will starve and erode every other aspect of our society to make sure we keep the might. It's all that matters now.
3hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @rdevro @Ali_Gharib Well, that makes it super legal IHL/IHRL then!
3hreplyretweetfavorite