Up | March 09, 2013
>>> good morning from new york. i'm chris hayes . a suicide bomber hit the afghan defense ministry overnight killing nine civilians just hours after chuck hagel arrived in the country. and nicolas maduro who served as venezuela's vice president under hugo chavez was sworn in friday. we'll have more on venezuela. i'm joined by the research fellow at stanford university whoever administration. also served on the policy board as an iraq adviser. tim carney , the washington examiner . mile la wylie, founder of the center for social justice . and laura murray, director of the aclu director's office in washington. good to have you here. on thursday, the senate voted 63-34 to confirm john brennan as the director of the cia . it came from a 13-hour talking session of rand paul . and eric holder asked about the administration's views about quote, the president has power to authorize lethal force such as a drone strike and without trial. holder responded saying, it is possible, i suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the constitution and applicable laws of the united states for the president to authorize the militia tar to use lethal force within the territory of the united states . holder's response seems to crystallize, the worst fears of many of the administration's targeted killing policy. and the broad assertion of presidential power that undergirds. paul seized on that wednesday summarizing his exchange withholder on the floor.
>> when i asked the president, you can kill an american on american soil, it should have been an easy answer. it's an easy question. it should have been a resounding and unequivocal no. the president's response, he hasn't killed anyone yet. we're supposed to be comforted by that. the president says i haven't killed anyone yet. he goes on to say, and i have no intention of killing americans. but i might. is that enough? are we satisfied by that?
>> on thursday, attorney general holder responded to paul 's filibuster by clarifying the administration's position. it's come to my attention that you have now asked an additional question, does the president have the authority to use a weaponize oohized drone to kill an american not engaged in combat on american soil? the answer is no. paul himself said he was satisfied with the answer and even went on to vote for john brenn brennan 's confirmation. it's important to note while the filibuster did force him to answer a specific question about the drone program, it failed to hold the administration accountable on some larger questions regarding both the drone program and brennan 's confirmation as a whole. namely was was john brennan 's role in the torture program at the agency. and what is the legal reason being used by the office of legal counsel in the department of justice to justify the drone program and targeted killing more broadly. after a brief spotlight for rand paul and the broader level of american capitalism , what exactly has been accomplished. that's the question. let's start off with this. i love hypotheticals just because i was a philosophy major because i love hypotheticals anyway. i feel like they're useful for reasoning. politicians hate hypotheticals. anytime you're in a hearing, as a journalist, you come up with a great hypothetical. and you're like, i'm not going to answer hypotheticals. that was remark only concept conceptually about the 13 hours. it was an extended rift on the hypothetical, right? the jane fonda sitting in a cafe somehow became the hypothetical. did we learn anything, laura , did we learn anything substantive about the administration's position on what are the binding constraints on how they view their executive authority in terms of targeted killing ?
>> i think so we learned a lot. and i think it started with the brennan nomination and it started with the senate intelligence committee asking for the office of legal counsel opinions that justify the drone and the vast killing program that the president has put in place. and so i think this was a tipping point of sorts like lieutenant dan troy, chaining himself to the white house gate.
>> over don't ask don't tell?
>> over don't ask, don't tell. there's a sense of frustration that congress cannot engage in its proper oversight ability without having these memos. and also, the president vows to follow the rule of law . but what are the rules?
>> and so, we can't be in this democracy without knowing that there are proper checks and balances in place. to make sure that the president is not overreaching. that he is operating within the rule of law .
>> yeah. i agree with laura . and i think one of the problems that we've had is, you know, eric holder just spoke at northwestern also after this, which i think is even an additional amount of information that we got solely by virtue of the fact that he was giving a speech about how they interpreted the president's power. now, we haven't had actually a full discussion about whether they're right.
>> so i think that's a little bit problematic. but it's a little bit like these dribs and drabs of getting these interpretations.
>> yes, there's an op-ed in "the new york times" this morning. and a number of other commentators who have said, actually, we don't know not engaged in combat means?
>> and this white house and every white house , is famously slippery with words. and eric holder is a lawyer.
>> so i've dealt with president obama saying something that the natural interpretation of it was one thing. clearly, afterwards, he said, oh, well, when i said that, i was doing this. it was some possible interpretation of words. not engaging in combat, it could mean somebody who is not currently trying to do an attack. an imminent attack. or they say, we call you an enemy combatant because we think down the line you plan on doing that. so you could be sitting in a cafe and fit in the category of what holder calls engaged in combat.
>> it's funny, when i first read the holder response about extraordinary. i can imagine extraordinary circumstances in 9/11 and pearl harbor . actually, my experience is, this is kind of a nothing. yes, one can imagine a rebellion against the united states that started in some, you know, compound in which people took up arms insurrection and there are military force . and due process. obviously that happened in the civil war and there was a huge amount. so it seemed to me like, yes, you could always construct some plausible scenario under which particularly extraordinary circumstances which kind of military force is needed. and yet, it was interesting to me that that was the thing that set everything off.
>> well, i think it's a little bit deeper than that. and we're a decade or more than a decade now into basically two wars of which americans have served and lost their lives. and literally thousands of allied supporters have lost their lives and iraqis and afghans. and i think we have a new type of war that is different than what we have experienced for most of our history. and we really don't have the morality of the new bar. irregular war fare, transnational actors that are terrorists. we're fighting a different type of war, but we don't have really the rules of the types of wars that we're now fighting. but at the international level, we're kind of developing international norms and laws as we go. and we're trying to figure out what's consistent with our own values. so i thought what happened this past week was a deeper question about who we are in the world. how do we fight wars with an asymmetric environment. and how do we help generate our concerns at the national level.
>> okay. all of these are very kind words to say about this whole thing. so let me take the opposite side of this which is like this is preposterous grand standing, okay? first of all, there's a tremendous amount of disingenuousness here. "a." "b," it's also not an extent that the hypothetical that's constructed is you, american citizen , watching there. because there are actual people actually getting killed in actual cafes in the world. those cafes are in waziristan and yemen. you know what, i'm sorry, but the republican party has not been rising to the --
>> that's not quite true.
>> it is true.
>> no, no, no.
>> all right. i've got a reaction out of all of you.
>> there are people in the party that came to the floor, namely the younger senators, rubio, cruz, flake.
>> mike lee .
>> mike lieu free from utah. they came to the floor and it was sort of a changing of the guard . and they represented the divisions within the republican party . and democrats, ron white , udall. senator leahy who is chair of the judiciary committee have expressed concerns about what the rules are. why can't we know what the rules are for this vast killing program.
>> it's important to note those aren't just younger senators. all the senators, rubio, paul , lee, toomey. they all came in representing the establishment.
>> but i also think what's important that happened this past week, not to put a completely positive spin on it, but there was something important about democracy at work. whether you think the actors were genuine within themselves. there say civil war going on in the republican party . and that's kind of what you're referring to. and i think it was showing up this past week. in very important ways not just generational. but also about these fundamental issues of who are awe. and what's the real base and who do we speak to.
>> that is the question. you set a new guard. you noted that the people that stood with rams to invoke the hash tag were largely tea party of recently elected. and you're saying there's a certain civil war in the republican party . i would like to dig deeper into that.