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Sen. Jeff Sessions: U.S. Can Kill Enemy Without Miranda Warnings

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) appeared on Face the Nation this morning. In a discussion about the President's spying powers he made this comment:

"When you authorize our military to use force, they can kill the enemy without a Miranda warning."

Crooks and Liars has the video clip.

An astute reader writes in:

Is Sessions saying that if you can spy on Americans during a time of war then you can also kill them without due process?

Aren't there normally some other small steps between the Miranda warning and the death penalty? Silly things like trials and appeals...

A problem is with Sessions analogy is that the NSA warrantless wiretap flap is not about spying on the enemy, but spying on ordinary Americans without a required court order. The spying took place not on the battlefield, but inside America. In America, our Government can't just kill people it suspects of being a terrorist -- even if the person caught in the act. Yet.

Sessions' analogy reminds me of the Queen in Alice in Wonderland: First the punishment, then the verdict.

In fairness to Senator Sessions, here is his entire comment from the CBS transcript (pdf):

SCHIEFFER: So, senator, what is the best argument you can make about why you believe the president has this authority?

Sen. SESSIONS: Well, it's necessary. We are at war. That group, al-Qaeda, has declared war on us, that Congress has authorized the United States to conduct war against them. As an incident to war is the power to surveil the enemy and to inter--intercept any communications they have. We know before, they used foreign communications into these sleeper cells that activated and did the 9/11 attack. So I think if we can do that, it's appropriate, it's necessary, and it's legal, both under the authorization to use force--because when you authorize our military to use force, they can kill the enemy without a Miranda warning, they can put them in jail without a trial. And to be able to intercept their communications is legitimate. Remember, it's not any foreign communication, it's only communications connected to al-Qaeda. That's international phone call from a foreign spot into the United States that implicates al-Qaeda, not Hezbollah or any other group. It's a narrow approval. And finally, the Congress, congressional leaders, were informed, and none of them objected.

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  • His argument would hold a scintilla of merit, if only, you know, we really were just spying on suspected terrorists. We clearly do not have so limited a scope. When I read about environmental groups and reporters getting tapped, the bald-faced lies these bloviating Rethugs spew are all the more infuriating.

    George Bush seems to believe the 4th ammendment doesn't apply during wartime -- I wonder if he has similar thoughts on the 22nd?

    Re: Sen. Jeff Sessions: U.S. Can Kill Enemy Withou (none / 0) (#3)
    by Edger on Sun Feb 05, 2006 at 12:21:30 PM EST
    Aren't there normally some other small steps between the Miranda warning and the death penalty? Silly things like trials and appeals... Streamlining. Efficiency. Save money. Reduce costs. Lower taxes for your buddies. And... we get the side benefit that the people sentenced to death won't suffer very long. Single bullet to the back of the head anyone?

    Re: Sen. Jeff Sessions: U.S. Can Kill Enemy Withou (none / 0) (#4)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Feb 05, 2006 at 12:27:10 PM EST
    Nooooooo. You all know what he meant, and trying to pretend otherwise just won't work.

    Re: Sen. Jeff Sessions: U.S. Can Kill Enemy Withou (none / 0) (#5)
    by Punchy on Sun Feb 05, 2006 at 12:45:09 PM EST
    And finally, the Congress, congressional leaders, were informed, and none of them objected. WTF???? Rockefeller was so concerned, and concerned that his concern would be labeled "partisan", that he wrote both Cheney AND himself a letter expressing this very skepticism and disapproval. Everyone knows about this letter, so how in hell does he get by saying this? Sessions is a Grade A bulls...ter.

    Re: Sen. Jeff Sessions: U.S. Can Kill Enemy Withou (none / 0) (#6)
    by Repack Rider on Sun Feb 05, 2006 at 01:12:25 PM EST
    You all know what he meant, and trying to pretend otherwise just won't work. In that case, when do you plan to stop pretending it means otherwise?

    MadB: We aren't at war in the constitutional sense. The President today has no more Congressional authority than Truman had in 1951 to deal with teh situation in Korea. Calling it the "War on Terror" does not make it into, for purposes of our constitution, a declared war any more than calling it a "war on cancer" means we have been at war for the last 30 years against Cancer giving the president the authority to wiretap to try to fight cancer cells.

    PPJ:
    You all know what he meant, and trying to pretend otherwise just won't work.
    lol!! I am cracking up. Coming from you, this has to be the funniest comment I've seen here for a long time. Get yourself a mirror, man! Priceless!!

    Re: Sen. Jeff Sessions: U.S. Can Kill Enemy Withou (none / 0) (#9)
    by Edger on Sun Feb 05, 2006 at 01:42:27 PM EST
    All Writs, But it is a War on Cancer... The most dangerous kind of cancer. The only contagious kind of cancer. Cancer of the Attitude.

    Re: Sen. Jeff Sessions: U.S. Can Kill Enemy Withou (none / 0) (#10)
    by Edger on Sun Feb 05, 2006 at 01:48:58 PM EST
    Nooooooo.
    The lunatic is in my head You raise the blade, you make the change You re-arrange me 'till I'm sane You lock the door And throw away the key There's someone in my head but it's not me. --Pink Floyd, Brain Damage

    All Writs, don't forget that we're still fighting the War on Drugs ("America's public enemy number one"), which was declared by Nixon in 1971. Maybe Bush is keeping that long-running war in reserve, in case the WoT loses its popularity and he needs to ride a different warhorse.

    Re: Sen. Jeff Sessions: U.S. Can Kill Enemy Withou (none / 0) (#12)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Feb 05, 2006 at 02:20:28 PM EST
    et al - Ho hum. Now, repat after me. His point was that the President can order terrorists attacked and killed, but, according to the NYTimes and other Democratic organizations/people, he can't have them spied on. Now the rest of the public understood that, understands it on a daily basis and thinks it a shame that you don't.

    Re: Sen. Jeff Sessions: U.S. Can Kill Enemy Withou (none / 0) (#13)
    by Edger on Sun Feb 05, 2006 at 02:24:53 PM EST
    Now the rest of the public understood that, understands it on a daily basis and thinks it a shame that you don't. And your source for that? Link please...

    PPJ Sorry. We all don't know what he meant. So why don't you speak for all of us. As usual.

    PPJ Boy that was the lamest explaination. Now americans can be killed but they can't be spied on? Whaaa Duh ? This is how your wingnut mind justifies Bushbag spieing on Americans without a warrant! Give us a break.

    Re: Sen. Jeff Sessions: U.S. Can Kill Enemy Withou (none / 0) (#16)
    by Punchy on Sun Feb 05, 2006 at 02:36:51 PM EST
    How does one know if it's the enemy without a trial? Who gets The Finger Job and starts pointing out the whack-ees to the whackers? I'm assuming it'd be the President, eh? How does the judicial branch like this?

    Re: Sen. Jeff Sessions: U.S. Can Kill Enemy Withou (none / 0) (#17)
    by squeaky on Sun Feb 05, 2006 at 02:43:39 PM EST
    I guess a terrorist wears a sign on his or her back with a big target so that dolts like Sessions will shoot the right guys. If terrorists are so easily distinguishable from regular Americans how come they have not gone the way of the Moa or Dodo. Seems like Sessons will be joining Reed et al and all the moas and dodos, They can shoot their mouths off all the way to the tar pit. BTW- The War on Terror has just been renamed. It is now called "The Long War". Catchy aint it? Guillani tried to put off elections and was thrown out on his ear. If the chimp tries to hang on by canceling elections it will be after another major (convenient) terror attack. I welcome the elimination of the 22 amendment. Junior and papa Bush v Bill and Hillary. no contest.

    I love that "Long War" nonsense. Nobody wants to admit that we are entering a new phase where the USA will wage continuous war to secure energy supplies, so we hide behind a "war on terror" or a "long war." Excuse me, I need to go drink a can of oil.

    Re: Sen. Jeff Sessions: U.S. Can Kill Enemy Withou (none / 0) (#19)
    by Mike on Sun Feb 05, 2006 at 02:54:07 PM EST
    How about the story today that the Justice Dept. official who says the Preznit can order the murder of a terror suspect IN the United States without due process? It's not just Sesssions saying it. It's a bona fide GOP talking point. After all, by upping the ante, a little eavesdropping looks minor by comparison.

    Re: Sen. Jeff Sessions: U.S. Can Kill Enemy Withou (none / 0) (#20)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Feb 05, 2006 at 02:55:15 PM EST
    Ed Beckman - Actually I put you in the "a shame that you don't" category, so I really wasn't speaking for you. Sorry for the confusion. edger - You want a source? I'm LOL. The check is in the bank. I have the title to the Mercedes, and not only am I from headquarters, I will actually help you. His comment, complaint, call it whatever..... has been kicking around the blogosphere for weeks. I mean really....

    Re: Sen. Jeff Sessions: U.S. Can Kill Enemy Withou (none / 0) (#21)
    by Edger on Sun Feb 05, 2006 at 03:01:38 PM EST
    It's a bona fide GOP talking point. After all, by upping the ante, a little eavesdropping looks minor by comparison. Sounds like Rove found the PCP stash... edger - You want a source? I'm LOL. Inventing again, huh? I thought as much... And the giggling symptoms have returned as well I see. Better get that checked soon, Jim. The time between the attacks seems to be getting shorter lately... you havent been skipping the meds again have you?

    Re: Sen. Jeff Sessions: U.S. Can Kill Enemy Withou (none / 0) (#22)
    by Repack Rider on Sun Feb 05, 2006 at 03:24:50 PM EST
    PPJunior His point was that the President can order terrorists attacked and killed, but, according to the NYTimes and other Democratic organizations/people, he can't have them spied on. You can't just attack and kill people in the United States. In some circumstances you can kill armed people who pose an immediate threat, but in any other circumstance, the Constitution requires an arrest and trial. As we know, when President Bush tells us anything, the odds that he's lying are better than even money. If he tells you that someone is a terrorist, I want to see the evidence presented in court before the summary execution. No one has claimed that you can't spy on terrorists (or the Mafia or drug dealers or child molesters). You just have to provide probable cause and get a warrant. How hard is that to understand?

    Everyone is having fun with his comment, but would you like to b a soldier and have to read the enemy his miranda rights before shooting him?

    Re: Sen. Jeff Sessions: U.S. Can Kill Enemy Withou (none / 0) (#24)
    by squeaky on Sun Feb 05, 2006 at 04:11:17 PM EST
    tomd-nice non-sequitor. troll

    when soldiers are running around american streets gunning down "terrorists", this will have become a whole new ballgame. but i forget -- it's already happened in london. too bad the guy wasn't a terrorist. better luck next time.

    Tomd
    would you like to be a soldier and have to read the enemy his miranda rights before shooting him?
    Your statement is just plain moronic.Please try and take the time to, at very least learn what the issues and facts are. You sound like a Hannity hiccup repeater.

    Re: Sen. Jeff Sessions: U.S. Can Kill Enemy Withou (none / 0) (#27)
    by Repack Rider on Sun Feb 05, 2006 at 05:23:22 PM EST
    would you like to b a soldier and have to read the enemy his miranda rights before shooting him? You seem to be operating under a few misconceptions about what sort of country we have. Soldiers do not arrest people in the United States, and they do not shoot people within our boundaries either. Police are not permitted to shoot people except when they are threatened with deadly force. Police arrest people, and they are required to advise those under arrest of their rights under the law of the land. I wouldn't have it any other way. Soldiers do their fighting in other countries unless martial law has been declared. If martial law is declared in the United States, it is because we have become a dictatorship.

    JimakaPPJ February 5, 2006 03:20 PM et al - Ho hum. Now, repat after me. His point was that the President can order terrorists attacked and killed, but, according to the NYTimes and other Democratic organizations/people, he can't have them spied on.
    Ah, I see the problem. This is what the actual intelligence officers who spied on the actual American citizens had to say about them actually being terrorists: Intelligence officers who eavesdropped on thousands of Americans in overseas calls under authority from President Bush have dismissed nearly all of them as potential suspects after hearing nothing pertinent to a terrorist threat, according to accounts from current and former government officials and private-sector sources with knowledge of the technologies in use. So while your point about terrorists is well taken the people we are talking about are, in fact, not even potentially suspected of being terrorists. I really don't think anything more has to be said on this topic. I'm glad we had this talk. p. s. If you think the New York Times is a Democratic organization I have an attractive piece of real estate you might be interested in purchasing.

    Re: Sen. Jeff Sessions: U.S. Can Kill Enemy Withou (none / 0) (#30)
    by Lora on Sun Feb 05, 2006 at 10:01:43 PM EST
    Now, when someone happens to wear a tee-shirt that carries a message to a government-sponsored event, that person can be labeled a "terrorist," not just a "demonstrator," and shot. If the person turned out not to have been a terrorist after all, I'm certain that the military who will have surrounded the event will have acted appropriately, on the side of safety and security. After all, think what could have happened if the tee-shirt wearer HAD BEEN a terrorist...! Unthinkable! OK this is it folks....time to prepare for La Resistance. Hm, a secret code, perhaps? A sign by which we can recognize members of the Loyal Left? (Sorry Jim, we can't tell you what it is -- you'd just turn us in, to be put in jail without a trial, or perhaps shot. After all, look how many people in Iraq were shot. Al-Quaeda, every one of 'em. The president said so, at first, anyway. Hmm he was wrong about that, but they remain shot. But of course he couldn't be wrong about the next Al-Quaeda link. Maybe those Vegans....yeah.)

    Watch Sen. Specter drop the ball today when he faces Gonzales's dog and pony show. I predict the Attorney General will blow a prodigious amount of smoke up Specter's arse and the rush will numb the poor guy's brain. In addition to smoke Gonzales will go on full frontal attack, as per turd blossom's detailed instructions. He'll stun the committee with his OUTRAGE and SHOCK that anyone would question the Prezint's decisions on how to perteck americuns. And watch what happens when the Democrats get their turns. Gonzales will turn up the heat. Another angry barrage. Which will turn them into whipped yellow dogs pissing the floor, bellies up, begging the Alpha Male to not take another bite out of their cowardly asses. And at the end of the day, the repugs will resume their fascist agenda. Bidness as usual. NOTHING HAS HAPPENED at the hearing, and nothing will the next time they convene. Why? Because the Democrats, after six years, have not yet learned how to effectively deal with Karl Rove's fascist tactics. And I'm afraid this just how it is, and absolutely nothing is going to change...at least in MY lifetime. http://palcewski.com/JP

    My, my, It seems that we are awful quick to assume that someone who questions your statements is a troll. I haven't expressed any political leanings and I'm not part of the republican or democratic party. His comment was simple and said nothing about being in the US. Nor does it say anything about arresting anyone. The statement we are discussing here is "When you authorize our military to use force, they can kill the enemy without a Miranda warning." And again I say that I would hate to be a soldier and have to advise the enemy of rights before I shoot them. Now, back to the troll issue. How can my comments possibly be interperted to be from a troll unless you consider a troll to be anyone who disagrees with you?

    Lora:
    Hm, a secret code, perhaps? A sign by which we can recognize members of the Loyal Left? (Sorry Jim, we can't tell you what it is ...
    Maybe we should each invent our own secret sign (like the artist formerly known as Prince) and not tell anyone what it is. Now that would keep 'em guessing.

    tomd:
    His comment was simple and said nothing about being in the US. Nor does it say anything about arresting anyone.
    I can't believe you are still trying to make this argument. Look, read the interview. The context of the whole discussion was surveillance inside the US. So if (as you seem to want to argue) he was referring to what the military can do when they are at war outside the US then his comment was completely irrelevant, and you'd have to wonder why he said it as part of his argument. Was it just a meaningless statement that is unrelated to the issue of domestic surveillance? If so, why did he include it in his answer. If not, what did he mean by it? Since the discussion was about the law inside the US, the only way for his statement to be a relevant part of his argument is if he was actually referring to what the military can do as an example of what should be legal inside the US. In that case, because the military are not fighting a war on US soil, the only way for the example to have any meaning within his argument is if he intended it to apply to other law enforcement within the US. And that is what people are disputing, because in the US, law enforcement must arrest people, not shoot them. OK?

    Ladies and Gentlemen this discussion has turned into a Weather update. It's been raining Red Herrings ever since PPJ and TOMD chimed in. In fact we should consider this the real motivation of Sen Sessions statement. It's a small part of the of the ongoing mis-information machine and red herring tactics of the right.

    Re: Sen. Jeff Sessions: U.S. Can Kill Enemy Withou (none / 0) (#36)
    by squeaky on Mon Feb 06, 2006 at 06:19:03 AM EST
    Since I called a troll alert, I will add a few words. tomd jumped on being outed as a troll but forgot? to address my pointing out that his comment was a non-sequitur. Perhaps his latin is rusty, or my inadvertent misspelling of the word confused him. A troll will divert a thread in order to engage commenters in non productive discussion. This diversion usually elicits an anger response, often after calm refutations, if the bait is taken. The anger rises, not because the troll has a different point of view but because the troll has no point to make and is dishonest. S/he only wants to make trouble for troubles sake. Using a non-sequitur is often the method of choice for trolls.

    ppj, thank you, it's been a boring day here so we went on line in the library. We read your posts and have been laughing so hard, tears are coming to our eyes. The rest of you people need to lighten up, ppj's pulling your legs, read his post and you know he can't be serious. You sly dog, ppj.

    Re: Sen. Jeff Sessions: U.S. Can Kill Enemy Withou (none / 0) (#38)
    by squeaky on Mon Feb 06, 2006 at 11:41:20 AM EST
    bigunit12- If you are calling ppj a troll I think you would have near consensus here.
    For many people, the characterising feature of trolling is the perception of intent to disrupt a community in some way. Inflammatory, sarcastic, disruptive or humorous content is posted, meant to draw other users into engaging the troll in a fruitless confrontation.
    from Wikipedia

    Re: Sen. Jeff Sessions: U.S. Can Kill Enemy Withou (none / 0) (#39)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue Feb 07, 2006 at 06:34:14 AM EST
    bigunit12 - I am glad to educate you. Many people ate capable of being trained using humor when the normal methods of study and research fail. Since this a self education program, let me know when you are ready to advance to the middle school level. Squeaky - Your problem is that I, as the detective movies said, "have the goods on you." So you have no choice but to try and shut me down by calling me a nazi, racist, troll, etc. I understand that and so do you. Don't worry, at some point the quotes and the links will appear and you can go back into your defensive mode. tomd writes:
    Now, back to the troll issue. How can my comments possibly be interperted to be from a troll unless you consider a troll to be anyone who disagrees with you?
    And the answer is...."a troll is anyone who disagrees with Squeaky." et al - You should get out more and you would have easily recognized the Senator's comment as a staple on the Right wing side. Staying in the echo chamber limits one's knowledge.

    I am glad to educate you. Obfuscation and denial aren't usually considered part of an education process, but YMMV. Carry on. Many people ate capable of being trained using humor when the normal methods of study and research fail Yes, you've been a lot of laughs over the years, as in the above. You show a positively Brechtian wit today. Anyway, TTFN, one and all.......