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WASHINGTON – A month before Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., made his courageous filibuster against the administration's drone policies, Rep. Jerrold Nadler signed a strong letter to President Obama demanding to know what is going on.

Nadler, D-Manhattan, the state delegation's leading civil libertarian, joined five other leaders of the House Judiciary Committee in a bipartisan post asking the White House to share with the committee details the administration passed on to the intelligence committees. What Nadler has received back is silence.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., also asked the White House for raw facts on its drone kill policies and got snubbed. Being in the majority, Leahy doesn't have to take it. So he has announced a full committee hearing on the subject this Wednesday.

The Democrat who presided over much of Paul's March 6 filibuster, Dick Durbin of Illinois, has also had it. Durbin, the assistant majority leader, called his own hearing for April 16.

Some background: The excuse for Paul's marathon was the proposed Senate confirmation of John Brennan, Obama's White House overseer of drone warfare, as head of the Central Intelligence Agency. Brennan was later confirmed.

But Paul, Nadler, Leahy and Durbin are not so much interested in the popular mechanics of drones, as the constitutionality of them.

Paul declared the president has crowned himself “judge, jury and executioner, all in one.” Nadler, during a Dec. 12 Judiciary Committee hearing on drones and the Constitution, declared: “The power to wage war, and to order the killing of any person is perhaps the most awesome power the president has. The framers of our Constitution rightly placed stringent limits on the authority of any one individual to take the nation down that road.” The authority Obama has arrogated to himself, particularly in ordering drone strikes on Americans “suspected” of terrorist ambitions, strikes at the heart of at least four parts of the Constitution.

The 2012 letter signed by Nadler tartly reminded Obama of his 2009 promise that “information will not be withheld just because I say so. Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.” The House Judiciary Committee letter added that the panel is “disappointed” that three prior requests to see drone data have been rejected by the White House.

Is this an example of Obama's supposed “aloofness,” or arrogance? It is enforced in part by Democratic Party discipline. Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., declined to respond to emails asking if he was even attending Leahy's hearing. Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, rejected a request for comment on drones.

Aloofness? Whatever the reason, the trend toward more central government power is bipartisan. Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham crudely slapped down Paul after his filibuster. And House Republican leaders are making no such demands for disclosure. Only two bills have been filed to control drones, and they have only four signers.

While the Obama administration is lowering the curtain on information about the regime, it is seeking more data on you and me, like Google and like Facebook. Reuters reported last week that the Obama administration is making plans to give all U.S. spy agencies full access to a massive database that contains financial data on American citizens and others who bank in this country.

Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was so besotted with the secret power that drones afford, he ordered a new medal for service members who control them from a desktop. It outranks battle awards like the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.



email: dturner@buffnews.com