Sen. Paul Threatens Hold on Drone Memo Nominee

Senator Rand Paul has warned Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that he will place a hold on the Administration’s nomination of David Barron to the First Circuit Court of Appeals until the Justice Department makes public the memos Barron co-authored justifying the killing of American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen. Barron, formerly a lawyer in the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel, is said to have authored at least one secret legal memo approving the September 2011 drone strike that killed Awlaki in Yemen.

In an April 30 letter, Paul says of drone killings, “The constitutionality of this policy has been the subject of intense debate in our country since its implementation. The disclosure of this document will not only clarify that debate, it will also allow the Senate to gain critical insight into David Barron’s judicial philosophy.”

Paul has been a determined adversary of Executive Branch drone strategy, having staged a one-man, 13-hour filibuster against the nomination of John Brennan as CIA director last March, in which he demanded an end to this exact drone killing program. In the wake of that effort, a New York Times feature identified Barron, along with one Martin Lederman, both lawyers in the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel, as the authors of a white paper supposedly containing the “workaround” of both domestic constitutional and international law, in order to “justify” these extrajudicial murders.

In their coverage, the Times noted the irony that Barron and Lederman had, in fact, earlier produced a “definitive denunciation” of the Bush Unitary Executive justification of Dick Cheney’s torture program, “co-writing a book-length, two-part Harvard Law Review essay in 2008 concluding that the Bush team’s theory of Presidential powers that could not be checked by Congress was ‘an even more radical attempt to remake the constitutional law of war powers than is often recognized.'”

And Obama now wants to give this man a judgeship.

The ACLU has supported Paul’s objection to Barron’s nomination, which Politico says could come to the floor “in the next two weeks.”

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