On the eve of a critical Senate vote, the Obama administration signaled it will publicly reveal a secret memo describing its legal justification for using drones to kill U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism overseas.
Two administration officials told The Associated Press that the Justice Department has decided not to appeal a court order requiring disclosure of a redacted version of the memo under the Freedom of Information Act. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.
My previous take here. David Barron was always likely to be confirmed once Senators were shown his drone memo. But that was always separate from the question of whether the administration would take the added step of releasing it to the public, and the alternative — continue fighting in court to keep it secret — didn’t seem like a tenable option, given Obama’s own vow to foster more transparency.
Still more pressure for openness will be required from Congress, and there are proposals rattling around Congress that would do some good. Whether lawmakers will move on them, of course, is another question. – gs
* Today in Pennsylvania, a federal judge who was appointed by George W. Bush struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional. “We are a better people than what these laws represent,” he wrote, “and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.”
* In a sign the White House is very concerned about the VA scandal, the administration has sent top aide Rob Nabors to Arizona to investigate.
There should be a constitutional amendment or something banning speeches like this unless you’re willing to explain, in some detail, exactly what you would have done instead. Cut and run, like Christie’s hero Ronald Reagan did in Beirut? Lie your way into a disastrous war like his hero George Bush did? Or what? I’m really tired of hearing nonsense about how we should have “supported” one side or another in Egypt or Syria or Ukraine. Or how we should have sent heavy arms over, even though no one was trained to use them and in some cases we didn’t even have anyone reliable to send them too. Or that somehow just giving another “evil empire” speech would have sent the mullahs screaming into the night.
This is a problem in many areas, but it’s particularly acute in foreign policy. Listen to the 2016 GOP contenders, and you’ll hear that all we need to do to make the world bend to our will is to be “strong” and “tough,” though they almost never say exactly what that might entail and why it would work.
* I argued this on Friday, and now Dana Milbank has a good piece on why Gov. Mike Pence’s opting in to the Medicaid expansion is an important development:
“When it comes to the issue of health care, I believe that people in my party need to be solutions conservatives, offering real alternatives to the big-government answers,” he lectured Monday at the American Enterprise Institute, a center-right think tank, on a visit to Washington. Conservatives, he said, “need to ensure that the safety net is well-designed and strong enough to provide a firm basis for those starting out on life’s ladder.”
Wait, what about all the GOP candidates and lawmakers who say they would “repeal and replace” Obamacare? That isn’t really true?
* Georgia Democrat Michelle Nunn has been vague about the ACA. Alec MacGillis on why it’s time for Nunn to realize that the law isn’t as politically toxic as it once was and step up to its defense.
* But Ed Kilgore with a good point about the media coverage of this: News orgs are lavishing far more attention on what Nunn would have done in 2010 than on what Republican Senate candidates would do about the ACA right now.
* And Joan McCarter frames the question well: Why do media orgs set the bar so low for Republican nonsense on Obamacare? — gs
* A pro-Mitch McConnell group has a new ad painting his opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes as the darling of Hollywood liberals. There are even the requisite pictures of Barbra Streisand and Woody Allen. It’s a little hard to see how this will work on Grimes, who is a born and bred Kentuckian. But the group says it will be spending $575,000 to air it.
* Jonathan Bernstein offers a useful guide to what to look for in the primaries happening today.
* A study of young immigrants shows that they may be souring on both parties. That’s potentially a problem for Dems, but also a reason why Obama may feel more pressure to act unilaterally on immigration. — gs
* You’ll surprised to hear that Rep. Alan Grayson isn’t shy about letting the media know that he’d love to serve on the Benghazi select committee, and is already offering a preview of how he’d use the opportunity to beat Republicans about the head and shoulders.
* Over at the American Prospect, I considered the dilemma Republican candidates face when they get asked whether they’ve ever smoked pot. It features a special appearance by Marco Rubio, who’d tell you whether he ever got high, if it weren’t for the troubling message it might send The Children.
* And finally, a high school senior in Georgia showed her love of the periodic table and clever wordplay, and got barred from her graduation ceremony because of it. The Internet’s wrath upon the school’s administrators will be swift and cruel.