[Congressional Record: February 24, 2010 (House)]
[Page H798]                        

                      AND NOW IT'S ASSASSINATIONS?

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the 
gentleman from Texas (Mr. Paul) is recognized for 5 minutes.
  Mr. PAUL. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
  What have we allowed ourselves to become? Are we no longer a Nation 
of laws? Have we become instead a Nation of men who make secret 
arrests? Are secret prisons now simply another tool of Federal 
Government law enforcement? Is secret rendition of individuals now 
permitted, out of misplaced fear? Have we decided that the writ of 
habeas corpus is not worth defending? Is torture now an acceptable tool 
for making us safe? Unfortunately, the single answer to all of these 
questions from the leaders of our country and to many of our citizens 
appears to be ``yes''.
  And now we are told that assassination of foreigners as well as 
American citizens is legitimate and necessary to provide security for 
our people. It is my firm opinion that nothing could be further from 
the truth. Secret arrests, secret renditions, torture, and 
assassinations are illegal under both domestic and international law. 
These activities should be anathema to the citizens of a constitutional 
  The real threat doesn't arise from our failure to torture. Rather, 
desensitizing our Nation to the willful neglect and sacrifice of our 
civil liberties, fought and died for over the centuries, is the threat.
  The concept of habeas corpus existed even before King John of England 
was forced in 1215 by his rebellious barons to sign the Magna Carta. 
This basic principle and expression of individual liberty, which has 
survived 800 years, greatly influenced the writing of our Constitution 
and our common law heritage.
  Today we hardly hear a whimper, either from the American people or a 
stone silent U.S. Government as our cherished liberties are eradicated. 
Instead, we have a government that deliberately orchestrates needless 
fear and makes people insecure enough to ignore the reality of their 
lost liberties.
  The latest outrage is the current administration's acknowledgment 
that we now have a policy that permits assassination not only of 
foreign suspects, but of American citizens as well. Of course the CIA 
has used secret assassinations in a limited fashion for decades, 
despite international, domestic, and moral law. When done secretly, as 
in the past, our government at least recognized that assassination was 
illegal and wrong. Frighteningly and astonishingly, however, the policy 
is now explicit.
  National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair, in open testimony before 
the House Intelligence Committee on February 3 of this year, 
acknowledged that American citizens can indeed be assassinated at our 
government's discretion. The U.S. Government attempted to assassinate 
Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen without even charging him with a crime. We are 
told this evidence is secret, that he does not deserve any 
constitutional rights, and that some unknown individual in the 
administration has the authority to declare him a threat, and therefore 
a legitimate target for assassination.
  Yes, I know, he is probably a very bad person. Yes, I know that only 
a few Americans are on the assassination hit list.

                              {time}  1700

  Yes, I know that artificially generated fear makes a large number of 
Americans inclined to applaud this effort which supposedly will make us 
safe. But if this becomes standard operating procedure and a permanent 
precedent is established, let me assure you that this abuse of the law 
will spread.
  It's time for Congress and the American people to wake up to the 
realities of the dangers we face. We must remember, as Members of 
Congress, that we have taken an oath to protect and defend the 
Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic. It should not be 
that difficult to distinguish the difference between the danger posed 
by the underwear bomber and the danger posed by a government that 
endorses secret prisons, torture, and assassinating American citizens.