clear
Monday August 31st, 2015 9:24AM

Senate backs judge pick who wrote drone memos

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A former Justice Department official who helped craft the Obama administration's legal rationale for using drones to kill suspected American terrorists abroad won preliminary Senate approval Wednesday to become a federal appeals court judge.

The largely party-line 52-43 vote cleared the way for a final confirmation vote Thursday for David Barron, a Harvard Law School professor. Obama nominated him last September to join the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Boston.

Many Republicans considered Barron too liberal. But the fight over his nomination centered on his authorship of secret memos providing the constitutional basis for the U.S. targeting of Americans with drones early in the Obama administration.

U.S. officials have acknowledged that four Americans have been killed with drones overseas, though they say only one was targeted purposely.

Also angering lawmakers was the White House's refusal to release Barron's documents. Members of both parties said the public was entitled to see the government's legal reasoning for the use of deadly force against its own citizens.

In a crucial turnabout, the administration said Tuesday it no longer would fight a federal appeals court order to release a censored version of one Barron memo.

The actual release of that document will take time while the administration and the courts work out details of what will be blacked out. Still, the decision to disclose them won over some Democratic senators who had insisted on transparency.

"I believe that every American has a right to know when their government believes it has the right to kill them," said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who backed Barron and had demanded the release of documents.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., had threatened to try delaying the nomination over the legal documents. He said Wednesday that Barron should be rejected anyway because no one who supports the killing of Americans without a trial should become a high-level federal judge.

"It's not about seeing the memos, it's about what they say and how they disrespect the Bill of Rights," said Paul, a potential 2016 presidential contender.

Last year, Paul spoke in the Senate for nearly 13 hours against the nomination of John Brennan to CIA director because of Paul's opposition to the administration's drone program.

Democratic Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, who faces a tough re-election race this year, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia were the only senators to cross party lines in Wednesday's vote.

A U.S. drone strike in Yemen in 2011 killed Anwar al-Awlaki, an American who administration officials say became an al-Qaida leader.

Attorney General Eric Holder has said that the government has the right to kill Americans overseas who pose an imminent threat to the U.S. and whose capture alive was not feasible.

Paul noted that Obama said during his 2008 presidential campaign that he opposed Bush administration claims that presidents have the power to detain American citizens on charges of being enemy combatants.

"Now we are condoning killing Americans without a trial," said Paul. "Where, oh where, has candidate Obama gone?"

Barron, 46, was acting head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel in 2009 and 2010. He also served in that agency under President Bill Clinton.

It is unclear how many documents Barron wrote justifying the targeting of Americans. Several lawmakers said they still want the administration to release more of them.

"Our military and intelligence agencies often need to conduct secret operations," Wyden said. "But they never should be placed in the position of relying on secret law."

Under pressure as the Barron vote approached, the White House this month let senators see one of those documents. Wyden said that was the same memo that the administration, under court order, will release publicly.

Wednesday's vote was the latest example of an Obama nomination that would not have survived under Senate rules on filibusters, or procedural delays, that existed until last November.

It used to take 60 votes to end filibusters. The new rules Democrats forced through the Senate in the face of what they say is relentless GOP obstruction require just a simple majority.
© Copyright 2015 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 7 months ago )
High court to adopt electronic filing of cases
The Supreme Court is belatedly developing an electronic filing system similar to those used in courts around the country, Chief Justice John Roberts said Wednesday in his annual end-of-year report.
7:57PM ( 7 months ago )
Storm brings snow, cold to West for New Year's
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
5:19PM ( 7 months ago )
U.S. News
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 7 months ago )
Hall County conviction, sentencing to be reviewed by SCOGA
The State Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of a Hall County man when they reconvene in January.
2:37PM ( 7 months ago )
Local/State News
Committee leaves transportation funding to lawmakers
Georgia will have to cover a $1 billion to $1.5 billion transportation funding gap to stay economically competitive, a committee of lawmakers is warning in a report issued Tuesday.
5:36AM ( 8 months ago )
US off war footing at year's end, but wars go on
Taking America off a permanent war footing is proving harder than President Barack Obama may have suggested.
6:13PM ( 8 months ago )
GOP leader regrets talk to white supremacists; party leaders rally around him
House Republican leaders rallied around one of their own, Whip Steve Scalise, on Tuesday after he said he regrets speaking 12 years ago to a white supremacist organization and condemns the views of such groups.
6:08PM ( 8 months ago )
Politics
Police investigate motive of man accused of ambushing Texas officer at gas station
HOUSTON (AP) — The man charged with capital murder in the fatal shooting of a uniformed suburban Houston sheriff's deputy had a lengthy criminal record going back a decade, but never spent more than s...
7:57PM ( 13 hours ago )
Common Core test results trickle in, but goal of comparing among states goes unfulfilled
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Results for some of the states that participated in Common Core-aligned testing for the first time this spring are out, with overall scores higher than expected though still below w...
8:42AM ( 1 day ago )
Hawaii's Big Island under tropical storm watch as Ignacio is upgraded to Category 4 hurricane
HONOLULU (AP) — The Big Island of Hawaii is bracing for high winds, heavy rain and ocean swells of up to 20 feet as strengthening Hurricane Ignacio approaches the state.Ignacio has grown to a Category...
8:20PM ( 1 day ago )
At events both somber and raucous, Gulf Coast marks 10th Katrina anniversary, looks to future
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — As the church bells rang marking the decade since Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, the 80-year-old woman wept softly into a tissue as she leaned against her rusting Oldsmobi...
6:38PM ( 1 day ago )
US immigration patterns shift: India, China outpacing Mexico as more skilled workers arrive
DALLAS (AP) — Siddharth Jaganath wanted to return to India after earning his master's degree at Texas' Southern Methodist University. Instead, he built a new life in the U.S. over a decade, becoming a...
6:03PM ( 1 day ago )