President Obama uses unmanned drones to kill suspects – even American citizens. He doesn’t bother with charges, legal representation for the accused or a jury trial.
But the president had no legal arguments for this unprecedented approach. So David J. Barron of the Justice Department obliged with a memo to justify assassinating a U.S. citizen. Barron’s memo is secret. The public must not learn how such killings are approved.
Obama rewarded Mr. Barron by nominating him for a lifetime judgeship on the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.
With the nomination before the U.S. Senate for confirmation, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., led the opposition. But on May 21, the Senate voted 52-43 to cut off debate, far short of the 60 votes which used to be required. The next day the Senate confirmed Barron’s nomination 53-45.
Rhode Island’s senators, Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, both voted to stifle debate and then to confirm the nomination. They were not even willing to wait for the assassination memo to be made public so that we and they could learn how Mr. Barron concluded that the fifth and sixth amendments to the Constitution, “due process” and “rights of the accused,” do not matter.