Someday, somehow, I want a Letter of Marque and Reprisal. It could be of limited duration, with limited powers, and I will gladly waive any bounty. I want one. Alas, I am fairly sure that Congress will never again grant such an awesome license to be a constitutional mercenary.
Yet, to my surprise, one month after the 9/11 attacks, Rep. Ron Paul, proposed the “September 11 Marque and Reprisal Act of 2001.” It’s exactly what you think it is—an authorization to POTUS to issue a letter of marque and reprisal to kill Bin Laden:
“To authorize the President of the United States to issue letters of marque and reprisal with respect to certain acts of air piracy upon the United States on September 11, 2001, and other similar acts of war planned for the future.”
I love how he refers to 9/11 as an act of “air piracy” so it fits within the historical Article I, Section 8 framework of marque and reprisal.
“That under Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution, Congress has the power to grant letters of marque and reprisal to punish, deter, and prevent the piratical aggressions and depredations and other acts of war of the al Qaeda conspirators.
Here is the bulk of the statute:
(a) The President of the United States is authorized and requested to commission, under officially issued letters of marque and reprisal, so many of privately armed and equipped persons and entities as, in his judgment, the service may require, with suitable instructions to the leaders thereof, to employ all means reasonably necessary to seize outside the geographic boundaries of the United States and its territories the person and property of Osama bin Laden, of any al Qaeda co-conspirator, and of any conspirator with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda who are responsible for the air piratical aggressions and depredations perpetrated upon the United States of America on September 11, 2001, and for any planned future air piratical aggressions and depredations or other acts of war upon the United States of America and her people.
(b) The President of the United States is authorized to place a money bounty, drawn in his discretion from the $40,000,000,000 appropriated on September 14, 2001, in the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Recovery from and Response to Terrorists Attacks on the United States or from private sources, for the capture, alive or dead, of Osama bin Laden or any other al Qaeda conspirator responsible for the act of air piracy upon the United States on September 11, 2001, under the authority of any letter of marque or reprisal issued under this Act.
(c) No letter of marque and reprisal shall be issued by the President without requiring the posting of a security bond in such amount as the President shall determine is sufficient to ensure that the letter be executed according to the terms and conditions thereof.
I can’t help but wonder if this task was outsourced to a bunch of pirates, would it have taken over a decade to catch UBL.
Come to think of it, maybe President Obama could issue letters of marque and reprisal to drones! He can do it on Twitter. And I got the perfect hashtag:
@PredatorDrone #licensetokill @AnwarAlAwlaki #yolo