Morning Joe | February 06, 2013
>> no. we find out that the united states government now thinks it has the right to kill american citizens without due process or without probable cause or without any evidence.
>> economic calamity at hand.
>> by the way, i want to get to all the news stories. i've got to ask mark mckinnon this story. barack obama , he'll sign, like, some regulation that will say that a federal agent can go pick up a tumbleweed off the side of the road in a deserted road somewhere in middle america . and republicans will stream to the floor and they'll scream, tonight, freedom was destroyed. how many times have you heard that? barack obama has destroyed freedom. tonight, you know, obamacare. they say barack obama has destroyed -- tonight freedom died. that's what we always hear from these republicans in the house. and here you have something truly chilling. here you have the united states government saying we can kill you, american citizen . you have no constitutional right to a jury by your peers. you have no constitutional right even to probable cause or to due process . you have no right to a lawyer. you have no right to counsel. you have no right to anything. if we suspect you, just suspect you without evidence that you were thinking about committing an act against the united states of america , we can kill you. and we have no -- there are no checks, and there are no balances. we can kill you. we can pick you out of a list and drop a bomb on you. not only can we kill you, we can then kill your 16-year-old son who's not even affiliated with al qaeda . and then we can blame it on the father for us having to kill the son. that seems to me to be something republicans might perhaps be concerned about, go to the floor about and talk about. they talk about all these other insane things where they say freedom's dying tonight. no, this is a great example of where the constitution is being stretched well beyond its limits.
>> well, forget republicans. how about liberals and democrats? i mean, can you imagine if george w. bush had proposed this idea?
>> of course. that's obvious.
>> i'm a little contrarian with you on this. i agree with the policy. i think it's a good idea.
>> you think it's possible to kill americans without probable cause ?
>> thinking about the threats against us and the machiavellian plots, i'm willing to err on the side of giving government a little bit of latitude.
>> americans don't have a constitution -- this kid, the 16-year-old kid, goes out to a restaurant and gets killed.
>> i understand.
>> because of his father.
>> i'm sure i'm in the minority of the stable, maybe in america .
>> that causes you no concern?
>> as i said, joe --
>> i err on the side of giving the government latitude on this one.
>> we have katty kay with us as well from washington . i didn't get to do the intros. good morning, katty.
>> morning, mika.
>> you want to chime in on drones? are you with mark mckinnon ?
>> i think there has to be a whole lot more open discussion of the kind -- we tried to raise a couple years ago, roy blunt tried to raise it in the petraeus hearings and was sort of smacked down by dianne feinstein . but now it's out there so much that the secrecy element is gone, and i think there has to be a real discussion both about the constitutionality particularly when it comes to american citizens but also the wider ramifications of whether this is actually serving our national security cause. because whilst you're taking out some al qaeda leaders, you're causing huge amounts of resentments in some of these areas and possibly fueling the next generation of militants in places like yemen and the pakistani borders, if we extend it into somalia or mali, there are a whole lot of people who are going to feel extremely angry about missiles raining down out of the sky and taking down people not always associated with terrorism. there's a story in "the new york times" this morning of an imam who spoke out against al qaeda . operatives came to speak to him. as they were speaking under a tree to threaten him, missiles came down and took them out. what does that do in that community in terms of a sense of what america is doing, anger towards america and the fueling of more people who feel they want to join the cause of jihad?
>> and the probable cause , by the way, jon meacham , now is -- and it really is -- if you're a man between certain ages and you are within the proximity of members who are suspected to be members of al qaeda , you are presumed guilty and they kill you. you're in the kill zone .
>> i would be an imminent threat . you're presumed to be that.
>> you know, the rule of law here, katty and i always joke about how she feels about losing the colonies.
>> she's not happy.
>> still mad.
>> i don't think she's as grateful as she should be that we've allowed her to come back.
>> this is one of the reasons we broke away from her crowd, was that there were --
>> i don't see where this is going. i'm struggling with this one, jon.
>> that the rule of law could not simply be in the hands of the king and could not be arbitrarily applied. and that's precisely what this is, is in the hands of an american king .
>> and an american king that actually gets the list of people who he decides should be killed and who should not be killed. and "the new york times" reports that he goes down that list. and there's so many things that are chilling here. i do got to say, mika, again, just to follow up on what mark mckinnon said, this is one of those times where you can't even say if george bush were doing this because if george bush were doing this, everything that was going on in washington , d.c., would stop today.
>> there would be congressional hearings called. there would be articles of impeachment. all of washington , all of manhattan, the entire press corps would stop and focus its attention on this unprecedented overreach, constitutional overreach.
>> well, i think some of it will come out in the brennan testimony, and that should be very, very interesting. i think we made the point yesterday that if this was happening in the bush administration , people would be going crazy especially in the sort of echo chamber . but i do think, when you think through the debate on this and the debate you and i would have on this, we would end up exactly where we are on the debate about torture. where we both end up evolving a little bit because we both love this country. we both want to respect the moral values that it's pinned upon, but we also both want our children to be safe.
>> i mean, i think that the debate would sound the same.
>> it's a balancing act. i am surprised -- and willie, let me bring you in here because we went through this a lot, talking about enhanced interrogation techniques . and pretty soon even sleep deprivation and things that are done to u.s. soldiers in basic training started being defined as torture. so i'm going to say enhanced interrogation techniques . i never could have imagined, under george w. bush and dick cheney 's leadership, that it would devolve this far. as i said, i was upset after reading "the new york times" article about how long padilla had been incarcerated without seeing an american lawyer . i mean, some things just aren't right. and this just doesn't seem to be right.
>> well, i said it yesterday. i'll say it again. i have a big problem with people being held at guantanamo bay without charge for years and now decade. but i have a bigger problem with people who are being killed without charge in the field of battle. so if you're outraged about enhanced interrogation , man, you should be really outraged about somebody being killed on the spot on suspicion of being a terrorist. and a lot of this is a semantic question. if you read that memo, the word "imminent" is used a lot. what does it mean exactly? how do we know that this person is intimately involved in something that is intimate? also, the term "senior, operative." when we hear these come down and they come across the a.p. water, we ought to start using a little more scrutiny and ask, what does that mean exactly? what does it mean that the guy you killed is a senior al qaeda operative? how do we know he's senior? an operative? al qaeda ? there are more questions that should be asked.
>> so you're right, hold somebody at gitmo without charges. that's one level here. you kill somebody without probable cause or evidence, that's right there. and then you make it an american citizen who is protected by the united states constitution ? jon meacham , and suddenly that raises it to an entirely new level. the u.s. government can decide which american citizens it's going to kill without probable cause , that is frightening. and, of course, the next step is, the killings start taking place on american soil.
>> and we're not far from that.
>> i think i said this yesterday. i think this is the ultimate manifestation of this blending of law enforcement and warfare that was thrust upon us by the attacks of september 11th , 10, 12 years ago. they're now so intertwined, it's almost impossible to pull them back apart. and one thing i think we have to be wary of is the history of executive power in the country bounces from one extreme to the other. we almost always overreact. so you don't want to get too much oversight and too complex about it because presidents know, there is a need to be able to strike. but i would love to hear what the debate on this was.
>> and also, i want to get to a couple more stories before we go to break, but how history will look at this will be so interesting because it might be the bush administration policies from wiretapping to gitmo to torture that led to information that led to what's happening here. i mean, it all will be related at some point. and the debate will be complete i muddled. and it's the debate we were having before president obama went into office. everything that you