Paul filibuster more than just droning on
Kentucky Junior Sen. Rand Paul and a group of fellow Republicans held a nearly 13-hour filibuster March 6 on the Senate floor, thereby delaying the confirmation of John Brennan as CIA director. It was refreshing to see a senator literally stand up for the affirmation of Constitutional rights.
Paul’s real issue was not Brennan, but was with the possible use of unmanned combat air vehicle — drone — strikes by the federal government on its citizens. It’s a possibility that drones could be used in U.S. territory, said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in response to Paul’s question on domestic drone strikes.
“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 U.S. for the president to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the U.S.,” Holder said.
“Were such an emergency to arise, I would examine the particular facts and circumstances before advising the president on the scope of his authority,” he said.
Paul’s response was to lash out in fear that one day unmanned drones may be used on U.S. soil to kill American citizens.
“Where’s the cacophony that stood up and said ‘How can you tap my phone without going to a judge first?’ I say, ‘How can you kill someone without going to a judge first?'” Paul said.
You cannot use drone strikes on American citizens when merely seizing property requires a warrant. The thought of it is way beyond unethical and unlawful. It’s funny that the same politicians who cried foul at the use of “torture” are now silent about killing presumed American terrorists. In the U.S., criminals are given due process, and if we give carte blanche to the federal government in the use of drones, we don’t know what these aircrafts may be used for in the future.
The nonpartisan think-tank, The New America Foundation, estimates the U.S. has carried out 349 CIA drone strikes in Pakistan and 61 in Yemen. These drones have been used to kill al-Qaida members and similar threats to U.S. safety.
When it comes to the safety of the masses, killing a terrorist does not keep me up at night. For those who kill countless innocents indiscriminately, I am unsympathetic. The real issue is that it is possible that the CIA may wish to use drone strikes on American terrorists who are an imminent threat. The problem exists in distinguishing what an “imminent” treat is.
There is a debate to be had here. On the one hand, you do not want to risk the lives of many for the life of one hate-monger. On the other, when you start striking people with little regard to due process, it dehumanizes us and trivializes life.
For now, we should stick to the old-fashioned way of handling this problem: by allowing due process to run its course and by putting found-guilty criminals behind bars. When the time comes, we will need to use common sense when choosing how to handle domestic terrorists who are perceived as a serious threat.
Paul’s filibuster drew a line in the sand not only between Republicans and Democrats, but within the Republican Party as well. Paul showed courage and resolution that is seemingly not present in the Senate as a whole.
“If there were an ounce of courage in this body, I would be joined by other senators … saying they will not tolerate this,” Paul said.
Sarah Backer is a business sophomore and may be reached at [email protected].