Saturday, March 9, 2013

"Are Americans in Danger from Their Government?"

     This is the question Rand Paul (R-KY) posed in his 13-hour Senate floor filibuster on Wednesday.
     I don't need a Senate hearing or a a filibuster to answer the question for myself, having been the target of a government attack, and having had my professional life ruined by said attack, inasmuch as a physician's profession is inextricable from his or her reputation.  To my mind, one's reputation is everything.
     Here's how things went on Wednesday in Congress
     Rand Paul, son of former Representative Ron Paul, asked Eric Holder, head of the Department of Justice, a pointed question:  If we allow drones to operate on American soil, can you, Mr. Holder, guarantee that the president, DOJ, or their subsidiaries wouldn't use a drone to kill a United States citizen if he isn't engaged in combat?
     Eric Holder responded that only "in extraordinary circumstances" would a drone be used to kill an American citizen on American soil.
     Whoa!  I said to myself.  I have already been considered "an extraordinary circumstance"--enough to warrant dozens of SWAT-attired agents to barge into my clinic and hold guns to the heads of a patient and a medical assistant.  
     What government agents deem "extraordinary circumstances" is different, obviously, from what the rest of us might deem extraordinary.
     We've seen an example of how quickly a sleep-deprived agent might pull the trigger on an unarmed civilian when he doesn't have a lot of reasons not to.  The FBI agent who killed that T-shirt clad optometrist on his front doorstep in Virginia was penalized by being forced to take three weeks off from work without pay.  Is that commensurate with the loss of an unarmed civilian's life?  The DOJ was required to pay $2 million in compensation to the family--but its prosecutors lied during the inquiry.  The government's pockets are deep, and no none in particular suffered, except that the tax dollars used to pay that $2 million were yours and mine.
     Rand Paul doesn't trust the government, and neither do I.  Why would we empower government agents authority to kill American citizens with drones on American soil?  The U.S. government has already killed more than 3,000 people with drones, many of them civilians, including 176 Pakistani children, as well as the American cleric, Answar-al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old American son.  (Our government actually made a motion to dismiss Awlaki's family's lawsuit.)
     John Brennan, the new CIA chief, is unlikely to curtail the drone attacks in Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Afghanistan.
     Senator John McCain (R-AZ) bemoaned the implications of Senator Paul's question to Eric Holder.  "We've done a disservice to a lot of Americans," McCain said, "by making them think that somehow they're in danger from their government.  They're not."
     I need to write Mr. McCain a letter.  
     Mr. McCain needs to send a few complicated medical claims to Medicare on behalf of a physician or two, and see what happens to him.  
     Mr. McCain needs to make a $50 bet on a football game, like that optometrist, and see if the FBI deems it necessary to shoot him in the heart for the crime.  Had the FBI agent had a drone at his disposal, he might have escaped responsibility altogether for his crime.
    Government agents shouldn't have the right to ruin people's careers, without cause, and they shouldn't be able to pull their guns on unarmed employees in medical clinics and other places of business, and they don't have the right to enforce their own version of the death penalty, willy-nilly.   But that's what they're currently empowered to do.
     So, if we're debating the question of whether government agents should be vouchsafed drones to use on Americans--as if their automatic pistols aren't enough--in order for them to follow all our moves, and target us, and kill whomever they wish, and seal the evidence in secret affidavits, and lie about their reasons, and never suffer significant consequences--whose side do you take?
     American's "War on Terrorism" has turned into police action against civilians.  I should know, it happened to me.  The last thing our "defenders" need is drones.      


  1. Hey, apropos of nothing, did you know Rand Paul is an MD, too? I like him also, but watch the lamestream media try to paint him as nuts because he's a libertarian. Speaking of Holder and government abuse, why aren't there more hearings about the Fast and Furious scandal?

  2. Both Rand Paul and his father Ron Paul are physicians. I may be able to meet with Rand Paul tomorrow, but more likely I'd see his staffer or assistant because he's very popular since his filibuster hurrah. I think he'd be sympathetic to the cause of too much judiciary power, but I'm not in his jurisdiction. I agree about lamestream media. As far as I'm concerned, anyone who can talk nonstop for 13 hours on the floor of Congress is pretty impressive. Maybe he considered it the same kind of challenge as being on-call for 36 hours straight, as a medical intern.