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Are You "Engaged In Combat?"

In response to Rand Paul’s filibuster of John Brennan’s nomination as CIA director last week – where the Senator pressed the issue of drone strikes and Presidential assassination powers – Attorney General Eric Holder issued a letter in response. The letter reads as follows:

It has come to my attention that you have now asked an additional question: “Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?” The answer to that question is no.

This was apparently enough for Senator Paul to declare “victory” on the drone issue. There are many issues with the phrasing of this question, but I’d like to focus on the “engaged in combat” part. As Law Professor Kevin Heller points out, Holder actually deleted a word from Paul’s original question when giving his response. The word? “Actively”. Heller writes:

Why did Holder delete one word from Paul’s question, changing “not actively engaged in combat” to “not engaged in combat”? Does that indicate that the President can kill an American inside the US whose activities qualify as “engaging in combat” even if they would not qualify as “actively engaging in combat”? What is the difference? What does the US understand by “actively”?

As we all know, it’s all about wordplay when it comes to lawyer-speak, and even more so when we’re talking about government lawyer-speak. Once the word “actively” is removed, the definition suddenly becomes a lot broader. If someone is “actively engaged in combat”, we would think they are actually in the process of an attack of some sort i.e. walking up to a building with a bomb, shooting up a mall, etc. Of course, law enforcement have always had the power to stop a violent act that is already in progress, so that would really be nothing new or extraordinary. But what happens when we take “actively” out of the question?

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Someone Needs To Ask Holder Why He Deleted That Particular Word

For the record.

"Bipartisan: both parties acting in concert to put both of their hands in your pocket."-Rothbard

I believe the reason

Is to broaden the definition of "engaged in combat", as described in the article. Removing "actively" greatly changes the definition, and the government's ability to broaden that definition.

*Advancing the Ideas of Liberty Daily*

He dropped the word for the

He dropped the word for the same reason Brennan took his oath on a copy of the Constitution missing the Bill of Rights.

Mocking behavior.

I must be willing to give up what I am in order to become what I will be. Albert Einstein

Really, Rand dropped the

Really, Rand dropped the ball. When Holder released this nebulous statement, I recognized the government's intention to eventually use drones on American soil in violation of Posse Comitatus, attack a sovereign state, and thereby restart the Civil War.


Attorneys are NOT lawyers!!!

THEY DO NOT STUDY LAW!!! The American people are supposed to be lawyers... and they were in fact for a good portion of our pre-revolution history.

Lawyers study law. Attorneys "practice" ways in how to steal your stuff under the "color of law" meaning it may look like law and smell like law... but it's NOT LAW.

(Statutes are not laws)

Rand had a victory to declare

Because he got people to wake up a little and realize that the administration was actually trying to reserve the power to kill American citizens to themselves. The fact that holder said they wouldn't doesn't carry any legal weight, since the guy with the guns makes the rules. Of course the lawyers are going to leave weasel room, but for Rand to press on that point would have made him look like a nut who was afraid of everything. He would ahve lost more than he gained through the filibuster by pursung holder and quibblign over that point since it would let the McCains of the world justify their "whacko birds" type comments. Rand played this perfectly, he picked a very narrow winnable fight, got his haymaker in there, and then rode it out to the bell without taking any major damage. The champ is ticked now though, so the next round or two might get pretty interesting......

Josh Brueggen
Jack of all Trades
Precinct Commiteeman Precinct 5 Rock Island Co Illinois

I don't disagree

Despite the filibuster's ineffectiveness in changing any actual policy or actually stopping Brennan's nomination, which I know was never the point or goal.

I agree that the filibuster was a positive thing, I'm glad it happened, and it certainly raised awareness on the issue when Jon Stewart is out there talking about it.

The purpose of the article was to criticize the Holder response and analyze what it means in terms of actual policy, and why the wording of the response should be of great concern.

Hopefully Rand and others will continue the heat on this issue.

*Advancing the Ideas of Liberty Daily*

Our government

Is setting new records for broadening the definition of an amazing number of very important words in the efforts of stripping our liberties away

Stop it!

It's not "my" government, therefore it's not "ours"!

*Advancing the Ideas of Liberty Daily*


For raising the issue of importance distinguishing between "combat" and "active combat"

How about a bump

for stopping this slice and dice of words, and lets say "If someone is planning a crime, arrest them." Drones are extra-judicial and un-Constitutional and since it is OUR Constitution, w are bound to it ANYWHERE. "Active combat" is a DESIGNATED WAR ZONE. If you are not a soldier on the battle field, you get arrested and tried, NOT EXECUTED.

Love or fear? Choose again with every breath.