Generally speaking I find filibusters to be a waste of time…and I find the paper pushing type to be totally abhorrent. But there are a few times when they serve a specific purpose and surprisingly, I find myself in agreement with Senator Rand Paul on this one!
For nearly 13 hours, Senator Rand Paul held the Senate floor in a good old time traditional filibuster essentially until his bladder gave out. And to his credit he spent nearly all of his time actually talking about the issue at hand instead of reading a phone book or the complete works of Shakespeare.
And the cause he felt was so important that he took up his filibuster. The totally unsatisfactory response from the White House on policy relating to using armed drones in the United States against US Citizens. There are very few Americans who are readily willing to give up their rights to a fair trial, to face their accuser, to habeas corpus, etc…and certainly don’t want to be summarily executed via armed drones here in the US.
So to make his point, Senator Rand held up the vote on the nomination of John Brennan as the new head of the Central Intelligence Agency. Senator Rand brought up some ancient history to make his point, but he made his point in good fashion. Here are some excerpts taken from the NY Times:
Mr. Paul, who opposes Mr. Brennan’s nomination, followed through on his plan to filibuster the confirmation of President Obama’s nominee after receiving a letter this month from Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. that refused to rule out the use of drone strikes within the United States in “extraordinary circumstances” like the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The filibuster started just before noon on Wednesday, with Mr. Paul ostensibly objecting to Mr. Brennan’s nomination. But in fact, Mr. Paul’s main concerns were those of the civil liberties and Constitutional rights, which he said are under attack by the administration’s potential use of unmanned drone strikes on American citizens on United States soil. (By Mr. Paul’s own admission, Mr. Brennan, who as the White House counterterrorism adviser was the chief architect of the largely clandestine drone program, served as a good proxy.)
“What will be the standard for how we kill Americans in America?” Mr. Paul asked at one point. “Could political dissent be part of the standard for drone strikes?”
Referring to Jane Fonda, who went to North Vietnam during the war there to publicly denounce the United States’s presence in the country, Mr. Paul added: “Now, while I’m not a great fan of Jane Fonda, I’m really not so interested in putting her on a drone kill list either.”
Repeatedly, Mr. Paul explained that his true goal was simply to get a response from the administration saying it would not use drone strikes to take out American citizens on United States soil.
This is an incredibly important topic and gets more important every day as the White House continues to expand the use of drones overseas in the ‘War on Terror’. At this point what would prevent a similar escalation here at home in ‘extraordinary circumstances’ which remain wholly undefined.
And as we’ve seen the White House hasn’t been above killing American citizens abroad using drones…several writers here on Blogging Blue have been vocal in opposition following the execution of Anwar al-Awlaki, a US citizen and alleged al Qaeada member – in Yemen in September 2011. It’s time to reign in the use of drones to murder and define their use in war…and it certainly is time to prohibit any idea of similar uses of drones here at home in the United States.
This is probably the only time I will ever say this…but well played Senator Paul!
12 thoughts on “I Stand With Rand Paul On This One”
Paul is not 1) a hero 2) a champion. He is, however, correct on an issue almost all Dems are wrong on.
It’s the criminal US defense contractors who are making these drones: Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Hewlett-Packard, Boeing…… They offshore the work. “China Counterfeit Parts in U.S. Military Aircraft”
17 January 1961 “Eisenhower warns about the Military-industrial-complex” a “permanent armaments industry.”
Local law enforcement should be watching this like a hawk. The defense contractors want to use drones to replace huge swathes of their “force.”
“Homeland Security increasingly lending drones to local police”
I respectfully disagree. The use of drones against U.S. citizens on U.S. soil is already clearly illegal, and shutting down the deliberative process to force the administration to acknowledge that fact is simply silly. What next, filibustering until the administration formally commits to never entering private residences to install spy cams in our toilet bowls with the intent of amassing a comprehensive butt photo database?
As a side note, I can envision situations that might merit the domestic use of attack drones. If I were president, I would not hesitate to order a precision strike if it were to save lives. However, I would then resign, turn myself in, and hope for jury nullification.
Another part of this is that we have laws against sedition. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sedition_Act_of_1918 If citizen wants to overthrow the government, it’s a crime and they are innocent in a CIVILIAN court until proven guilty.
What Bush and Obama have done is get anyone THEY consider to be a TERRORIST, tried under a MILITARY tribunal, which has far fewer protections for defendants.
“Ex parte Milligan, 71 U.S. (4 Wall.) 2 (1866), was a United States Supreme Court case that ruled that the application of military tribunals to citizens when civilian courts are still operating is unconstitutional. It was also controversial because it was one of the first cases after the end of the American Civil War.”
Firedoglake, emptywheel, Glen Greenwald, have been on this for years and they’ve gotten nowhere. All or many of the key court documents are sealed, so there’s zero transparency. I’m sorry so much of the traction is coming from the right, but better there than none at all.
All those so-called “conservative,” who claim to be so devoted to “strict construction and “original intent,” who hate “activist” judges legislating from the bench, after 9/11 those same folks ripped up most of the Bill of Rights.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
We aren’t talking about police performing their duties in tactical situations here…we are talking about the federal government targeting people without due process…a police office can use force when she are at risk or the public is at risk…but he can’t just walk up to a suspected criminal and blow him away.
The question of government use of a drone to commit assassinations in the United States is a red herring that Paul used to appeal to the Tea Party crowd –who routinely wet themselves over Black Helicopters– while attempting to appeal to progressives who rightly oppose government secrecy, extra-judicial executions, kidnapping and torture, in other words, the who bag of tricks which the Constitution-nullifying Global War On Terror makes possible.
Drones work best in terrorizing the people of countries that aren’t physically controlled by the American Empire. The military routinely boasts about features like facial-recognition which permits them to track and isolate individual terrorists who need to be snuffed by POTUS. The implication is that these are clean kills with little “collateral damage”, but the reality is that so many non-combatant civilians have been killed that the Pentagon was forced to redefine a combatant as anyone associated with a terrorist, including someone standing at the wrong bus stop, or attending the wrong wedding or picnic. People who run to the aid of drone attack victims are targeted, as well as those who attend the funerals. Even the alleged terrorists are often just the victims of personal vendettas with CIA informers who are paid a handsome bounty on a per-hit basis. For practical purposes, the definition of a terrorist is: Anyone the US kills.
Rand Paul, like most politicians on the national stage, supports this carnage but likes to parade his faked concern that these war crimes will be transferred to American soil. He needn’t concern himself with drones in this regard, because America is blessed with more than enough trigger-happy SWAT teams to kill anyone the government wants to dispose of.
As far as police officers not being allowed to walk up to a suspected criminal and blow him away, it happens nearly every day in this country and is so rarely punished that when it is, it becomes front page news.
you were right about everything except for what you said about Rand. He’s NOT AT ALL like most politicians. This is his first term and he comes out swinging against the President and telling the Truth and standing up for the people. Only so much one man can do in a short time.
He doesnt need the money. He’s a doctor with a famous dad. He’s not in it for the money. He’s in it for the people and will be a face on mount rushmore for restoring the constitution
I have no legal education or experience except in applying my college tax law courses as an accountant, but…
We need only look to our history for a drone precedent, legal or otherwise, for justification to “take out” an American citizen without due process, wherever and whatever, with any means available.
I call reference to the “1780 Benedict Arnold vs USA Decision” in which the Marquis deLaFayette “who was under orders from Washington (George that is) to summarily hang Arnold if captured” assuming the traitor, Arnold, was not killed previously by the drones of musket and cannon fire from the Virginia Militia. It was an updated primordial response to protect the species, a Republic form of government consisting of free citizens.
Makes sense to me, but it seems Rand Paul was more intent on making a political point with his ideology.
Oops, omitted the history link:
That was pre-Constitution…
Yes, ordering the death of the traitor, Benedict Arnold, was prior to the Constitution, but VP Cheney’s order on 9/ll to shoot down a hi-jacked airplane with innocent Americans on board was post Constitution. It is the only decision or policy of Cheney that I ever agreed with.
Where is the bring back american jobs filibuster. I guess that does not matter anymore !
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