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Opinion page editor Rick Holmes and other writers blog about national politics and issues. Holmes & Co. is a Blog for Independent Minds, a place for a free-flowing discussion of policy, news and opinion. This blog is the online cousin of the Opinion ...
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Opinion page editor Rick Holmes and other writers blog about national politics and issues. Holmes & Co. is a Blog for Independent Minds, a place for a free-flowing discussion of policy, news and opinion. This blog is the online cousin of the Opinion section of the MetroWest Daily News in Framingham, Mass. As such, our focus starts there and spreads to include Massachusetts, the nation and the world. Since successful blogs create communities of readers and writers, we hope the \x34& Co.\x34 will also come to include you.
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By Rick Holmes
March 6, 2013 11:05 a.m.



Two items have come out in the last day or two about drone policy worthy of note.



- Robert Gibbs, now working for MSNBC, sort of tells Rachel Maddow that Brennan — and by extension, Obama — lobbied to make the “unsustainable” drone program less top-secret and more transparent (though obviously not transparent enough).  He goes on to imply, at least, that the administration wants to further increase transparency and accountability by taking the drone program away from the CIA and giving it to the military.  That doesn’t come close to solving all the many legal issues involving drones, but it would be, I think, a real step in the right direction. The military’s cultural bias is toward more rules, bureaucracy and a chain of command that enables accountability. The CIA’s cultural bias is toward excessive secrecy and no rules.



- Forced by Sen. Rand Paul to answer a hypothetical about use of armed drones against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, Eric Holder adds one more reason to the growing list of why he should resign. “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 military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States,” Holder replied. For example, the President could conceivably have no choice” but to authorize strikes in the case of a second Pearl Harbor or 9/11 attack, in which case Holder would “examine the particular fact and circumstances before advising the President on the scope of his authority.”



Maybe there’s a more complicated legal argument that could convince me, but I’m not buying it so far.  Does Posse Comitatus still prevent military operations within the U.S.?  I don’t think there’s any doubt the Navy had all the authority it needed to defend Pearl Harbor from attack, but it seems to me there are clear rules differentiating foreign military operations from domestic law enforcement.  A new technology shouldn’t upend those rules, certainly not without an act of Congress.



 

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