@SenRandPaul receives “assurances” on domestic drones in letter from Eric Holder

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I love it:

Sen. Rand Paul declared victory Thursday after Attorney General Eric Holder assured him that the president cannot use a drone to kill a noncombatant American on U.S. soil — an assurance Paul had sought during his 13-hour filibuster the day before.

“Hooray!” Paul responded when the letter was read to him for the first time during an interview with Fox News. “For 13 hours yesterday, we asked him that question, so there is a result and a victory. Under duress and under public humiliation, the White House will respond and do the right thing.”

During his dramatic filibuster, which delayed a vote on CIA director nominee John Brennan, Paul had demanded the administration clarify the government’s authority to kill on U.S. soil. The filibuster ended past midnight early Thursday morning. The Senate voted, 63-34, to confirm Brennan later Thursday afternoon.

Shortly before the vote, Holder sent a terse letter to Paul that read: “It has come to my attention that you have now asked an additional question: ‘Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?’ The answer to that question is no.”

In response, Paul said Thursday that “we’re proud to announce that the president is not going to kill unarmed Americans on American soil.” He later took to the floor to promote the attorney general’s response, as the Senate moved to confirm Brennan.

Good for Paul for standing his ground on this.  The only reason  he stopped his near-13 hour filibuster shortly before 1 a.m. ET was because he had to go to the bathroom.

I should note that just because he has “assurances” from the administration, it’s not set in stone, but at least now if it happens this administration and perhaps future ones will have a have a little less wiggle room when it comes to legal proceedings and Congressional investigations in the aftermath.

Meanwhile, if you imagined you couldn’t get any madder at the Duncetastic Duo of John McCain and Lindsey Graham, think again.  The way they talked down to Paul on the floor of the Senate today, suggesting his very serious concerns about Presidential power were “ridiculous” and an “abuse of the filibuster”,  should go down in the books as some of the most shameful moments in the history of the United States Senate.  Of course they, along with NC GOP Senator Richard Burr and several other “key” Republican Senators, were wined and dined by Obama last night in grand fashion and didn’t lift one finger or say one word in support of Paul’s dramatic floor speech. Senator Paul, on the other hand, dined on a … candy bar …  during his filibuster.

I think I’ve finally figured out what “establishment Republican” means and Graham, McCain, and Burr pretty much fit the bill. Disgraceful.

DHS: “We can buy assault weapons to protect ourselves; you can’t. Hah-hah!”

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**Posted by Phineas

Since the Newtown school massacre, there have been renewed calls for bans on so-called “assault rifles.” There was a march in D.C. this last weekend, and Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Nannystate) introduced legislation to ban all sorts of weapons, mostly based on cosmetic factors that scare lefties, but make no difference in the weapon’s lethality. One of the most common arguments made is that you “just don’t need” such a weapon to defend yourself. (1)

But those are the rules for peasants such you and me. If you work for the Department of Homeland Security, well, that’s different:

The Department of Homeland Security is seeking to acquire 7,000 5.56x45mm NATO “personal defense weapons” (PDW) — also known as “assault weapons” when owned by civilians. The solicitation, originally posted on June 7, 2012, comes to light as the Obama administration is calling for a ban on semi-automatic rifles and high capacity magazines.

Citing a General Service Administration (GSA) request for proposal (RFP), Steve McGough of RadioViceOnline.com reports that DHS is asking for the 7,000 “select-fire” firearms because they are “suitable for personal defense use in close quarters.” The term select-fire means the weapon can be both semi-automatic and automatic. Civilians are prohibited from obtaining these kinds of weapons.

The RFP describes the firearm as “Personal Defense Weapon (PDW) – 5.56x45mm NATO, select-fire firearm suitable for personal defense use in close quarters and/or when maximum concealment is required.” Additionally, DHS is asking for 30 round magazines that “have a capacity to hold thirty (30) 5.56x45mm NATO rounds.”

Republican New York state Sen. Greg Ball also issued a press release this week bringing attention to the weapons purchase request.

Calls made to DHS seeking information regarding whether or not the RFP was accepted and fulfilled were not immediately returned on Saturday.

Let’s keep this straight, shall we? When you want an AR-15 for home defense, you’re a dangerous, mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging, Bible and Constitution (and wife) beating radical who finds his manhood enhanced by getting your hands on an “assault weapon.” And should you want a magazine that holds ten or more rounds… You’re just fantasizing about shooting up a mall, aren’t you?

But, when the DHS wants its agents to have similar weapons… Those aren’t “assault weapons,” silly! Those are for “personal defense!” And, unlike you, they really do need high-capacity magazines! Ten rounds? Bah! Let’s go for 30! And the option for full auto-fire!

Why? Well… because, it’s not the same thing, you bitter-clinger!

In all seriousness, I have no problem with DHS buying weapons for its agents’ personal defense; they do dangerous work in the service of the nation. But shouldn’t ordinary, law-abiding Americans have the right to make the same choices for themselves and their families?

Scratch that. It’s not “have the right,” which implies a debatable question or request. No, Americans have that right as an inalienable natural right that preexists government, and the Second Amendment is a recognition of that right, not a grant.

So, if the managers of DHS can decide that they and their people need these weapons for their personal defense, shouldn’t the government acknowledge that individuals have that same right?

via John Kass

Footnote:
(1) With the usually unspoken corollary: “And you don’t get to make that choice for yourself, either.”

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

ICE Chief of Staff resigns in face of sexual harassment allegations

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**Posted by Phineas

Well, that didn’t take long:

ICE Chief of Staff Suzanne Barr has resigned after allegations of lewd behavior. In a letter to ICE Director John Morton, Barr denied the sexual harassment claims made against her.

“As such, I feel it is incumbent upon me to take every step necessary to prevent further harm to the agency and to prevent this from further distracting from our critical work. Therefore, it is with great regret that I submit my resignation as Chief of Staff for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”

Last month James Hayes filed a lawsuit saying women closely connected to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano were promoted over him. He also claimed Ms. Barr instilled a “frat-house” atmosphere at DHS “to humiliate and intimidate male employees.”

I reported on the two lawsuits alleging female-on-male sexual harassment and demeaning behavior at the Department of Homeland Security several weeks ago. At the time, I speculated that Suzanne Barr would be resigning to spend more time with her family, or some other excuse. We now know that a “decent interval” in the DHS is two weeks.

And, don’t forget — these are the people who are supposed to keep us safe.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Raunchy affidavits filed in DHS sex discrimination suit — Updated: Barr goes under the bus?

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**Posted by Phineas

More allegations about Animal House-like behavior at the Department of Homeland Security have come to light, this time in affidavits filed in the first of two lawsuits (so far):

The affidavits were given as part of a discrimination and retaliation suit filed earlier this year by James T. Hayes Jr., the head of the New York office for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Hayes claimed that Napolitano presided over a female “frat-house”-style department that routinely humiliated male staffers.

The two new affidavits described separate incidents in 2009. Both accounts described the actions of ICE chief of staff Suzanne Barr, who was also mentioned in Hayes’ lawsuit.

One of the employees claimed that in October 2009, while in a discussion about Halloween plans, the individual witnessed Barr turn to a senior ICE employee and say: “You a sexy” (expletive deleted).

“She then looked at his crotch and asked, ‘How long is it anyway?'” according to the affidavit.

“Several employees laughed nervously,” the affidavit said. The names of the workers making the claims have been redacted.

The other account recalled a trip to Colombia in late 2009, attended by ICE Director John Morton, Barr and Ray Parmer, who is special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations in New Orleans.

The account said Parmer and Barr were “drinking heavily” at the house of the deputy chief of mission for the U.S. Embassy there. It said Parmer took the BlackBerry of another employee, Peter Vincent, and sent “lewd messages” to Barr.

The affidavit went on to say: “During this party, Suzanne Barr approached me and offered to” perform oral sex.

The two accounts were submitted this week to the defense attorney in the case Hayes filed against Napolitano.

Is this the Department of Homeland Security or Cougar Town? Sounds like a perfect place for a President Romney to impose some adult supervision by appointing Rudy Giuliani as Secretary.

RELATED: Other DHS posts.

via Gabriel Malor

UPDATE: Well, that was fast.

ICE chief of staff on leave after new allegations of lewd conduct surface

The top Homeland Security official accused of cultivating a “frat-house”-style work environment has “voluntarily placed herself on leave” amid an internal review, the department told FoxNews.com late Tuesday evening — just hours after FoxNews.com contacted the agency about new allegations against her.

The official, Suzanne Barr, is chief of staff for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

(…)

“ICE has referred these allegations to the DHS Office of Inspector General and the ICE Office of Professional Responsibility for review. Ms. Barr has voluntarily placed herself on leave pending the outcome of this review,” ICE Public Affairs Director Brian Hale said in a written statement.

Why do I have a feeling Ms. Barr will be “resigning to pursue other career options”, soon? Someone wholly innocent would fight these allegations tooth and nail. This sounds like the start of a “decent interval,” if you know what I mean.

Question for any Arizonans reading this: Did Napolitano have management problems like this when she was governor?

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)