At 12 hours, 52 minutes, the ninth longest filibuster in Senate history began with these simple words:
“I rise today to begin to filibuster John Brennan’s nomination for the CIA I will speak until I can no longer speak. I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court.”
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul doesn’t oppose John Brennan the person, he opposed that Attorney General Eric Holder, and thereby the Obama White House, would not rule out the possibility of an American citizen being killed by a drone on U.S. soil at the command of the president. Unsatisfied with a March 4th letter from Holder that said it was possible to imagine an “extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate” for the president to “use lethal force” within the U.S., Paul took to the floor to voice his concerns.
I stand with Rand. I would stand with him no matter the president’s political party (does anyone wonder how the Left would react to this if Bush was still president?). It has been an established fact, since 1789, that in the United States of America, one person cannot serve as judge, jury, and executioner; is this now in dispute?
The White House and others point to 9/11 as an extraordinary, unforeseen circumstance. On September 11, 2001, Vice President Cheney gave the order to shoot down hijacked passenger planes over New York and Washington. By that point however, all of the hijacked planes had crashed and the order was never carried out. The president’s supporters argue that, prior to 9/11, this situation was unimaginable, so, essentially, one should “never say never” about such things. But, the imminent threat posed by a hijacked airplane is quite different from the potential danger of a suspected criminal who is not in the process of committing a crime.
Paul isn’t saying the president should not use lethal force to stop someone in mid-attack. He’s asking, and rightly so, if the president believes that he has the power to kill a United States citizen who does not pose an imminent threat, but is suspected of being a domestic terrorist. The answer, from the former constitutional law professor in the White House should be a firm no. It is troubling that neither Obama, nor his attorney general, unequivocally support the Fifth Amendment.
However as a result of Paul’s filibuster, Holder has sent an updated letter saying that the President does not have that authority.
Paul was right to engage in the filibuster. Imagine if he hadn’t? We would be truly down the rabbit hole with Alice, listening to our leaders scream “sentence first – verdict afterwards!”