Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, filibustered the nomination of John Brennan as director of the CIA, due to issues concerning President Obama’s policy on civil liberties. He literally talked and talked saying, “I will speak until I can no longer speak.”
President Obama, or any subsequent president for that matter, has the legal authority to unleash deadly force against Americans on U.S. soil without first putting them on trial.
Attorney General Eric Holder explained in a letter that Obama “has no intention” of targeting fellow citizens and would only do so under “an extraordinary circumstance.”
He also stated, “It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States.”
He then explains that the U.S. government has not done any drone strikes in the United States and has no intentions of doing so.
Senator Paul says that Holder’s response is “frightening” and “an affront to the Constitutional due process rights of all Americans.” He then asked, “Where is the Barack Obama of 2007?” Referring to Obama’s opposition to the Bush-era violations of civil liberties.
Holder responded further, “The question you have posed is therefore entirely hypothetical, unlikely to occur, and one we hope no President will ever have to confront.”
Rand Paul and others like him who hold this concern, find the last part of that quote unsettling -
“one we hope no President will ever have to confront”.
“To be bombed in your sleep? There’s nothing American about that.” Paul said.
Holder admits that there could be extraordinary instances where it would be “appropriate” to do so such as if the president needed to authorize the military to use force to “protect the homeland in the circumstance of catastrophic attack.”
On Wednesday Paul said, “When I asked the president, ‘Can you kill an American on American soil,’ it should have been an easy answer.….. It should have been a resounding an unequivocal, ‘No.’ The president’s response? He hasn’t killed anyone yet. We’re supposed to be comforted by that? The president says, ‘I haven’t killed anyone yet.”
Paul began his filibuster speech around 11:45am and didn’t take his first break until around 3 o’clock when Senator Mike Lee of Utah took over for a moment. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon also stepped in. Wyden noted that he wanted to use this opportunity to get more information on the Commander-in-Chief’s legal documentation for targeted killings.
Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia said that he thought the administration should be capturing and interrogating more suspected militants, rather than launching drone strikes at them. He said that he did not support the nomination of John Brennan.
There are mixed views on Paul’s filibuster. There are those who say he’s wasting his time and will lose the debate he started. They believe it’s clear that the president should act under certain situations to protect US citizens in America.
On the other hand, several Obama supporters actually applaud Senator Paul for questioning both the executive branch’s use of drones, as well as questioning Congress’ surrender of war powers.
The question remains, is it smart to allow that much of American civil liberties to be violated under the pretenses that the President will always “know best”.