March 7, 2013
Yesterday, Senator Rand Paul literally stood on his principles.
Paul led a 12 hour and 54 minute hour filibuster, delaying confirmation of John Brennan as Director of the CIA. Brennan is a marginally-qualified candidate with a history of promoting what The Heritage Foundation’s Steven Bucci calls “the overuse of drones.”
“I will speak until I can no longer speak,” Paul began. “I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important.”
This was the ninth-longest speech in the Senate’s history. Paul filled the nearly 13 hours by speaking out against drone strikes and especially the administration’s recent claims that it could use drones domestically.
Bucci says Paul was right to critique the domestic use of drones:
As Heritage has stated before, use of armed drones inside the U.S. would be foolish and wrong. The Administration’s assertion is a dangerous overreach. In general, the overuse of drones as the counterterrorism method of choice has turned into Obama’s equivalent of Bill Clinton’s use of cruise missiles. Both appear to be cheap and easy. Unfortunately, when used at the exclusion of other military and intelligence means, all you get is press coverage, but not lasting results. The President must utilize a comprehensive counterterrorism policy that uses all the tools available.
Paul was not alone in his filibuster. He was joined by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and rising conservative stars Mike Lee (R-UT), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Pat Toomney (R-PA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL).
Even when Harry Reid attempted to convince him to end his filibuster and call a vote, Paul stood firm:
I would be happy with the vote now — I’ve talked a lot today — but the only thing I would like is clarification, if the president or the attorney general would clarify they’re not going to kill noncombatants in America.
When Paul was finished he received an unprecedented round of applause for his effort. The applause drowned out the Chair’s pronouncement that “No signs of approval or disapproval are permitted on the house floor”.
Paul’s efforts were not in vain. Attorney General Eric Holder sent him a letter today affirming that the president lacks the authority to use drones to attack noncombatant U.S. citizens on American soil.
What do you think of Rand Paul’s filibuster?