Today, Rand Paul, the junior Senator from Kentucky, donned his superhero power cape and came to the Senate floor to do battle against the Killer Drone and his bipartisan posse (Republicans generally favor the drone program).
What’s not to like about Rand slaying The Drone, albeit quixotically?
Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) talking filibuster against John Brennan’s nomination as CIA director is gaining supporters, and it’s now a bipartisan effort.
Paul began speaking just before noon Wednesday on the Senate floor in opposition to Brennan’s nomination, saying that he planned to speak “for the next few hours” in a rare talking filibuster.
Paul, who strongly opposes the Brennan nomination and the Obama administration’s use of unmanned aerial drones, became the first senator to make use of the procedural tactic in more than two years and the first to do so since the Senate approved a bipartisan rules reform package in January.
On a more serious note: “Rand Paul: Action Hero, Or Political Performance Artist?”, last week’s column, would have been better timed for this week.
And the questions the column posed still obtain: “Is this political Brownian motion—the case of activity substituting for achievement—or real Randian energy in furtherance of liberty? … Is Rand Paul an action hero, or … is he just a political performance artist?”
And should libertarians be so hard on the guy?
Sen. Rand Paul began the filibuster at 11:47 a.m. (AP)
Paul makes rare filibuster stand
Republican senator acknowledges his remarks won’t stop John Brennan’s confirmation vote to lead the CIA.
LIVE: Filibuster on the Senate floor
In the Loop: Filibusters ain’t what they used to be
The Fix: Rand Paul’s unpredictable streak
UPDATE III (3/7): WINNING. Action hero it is. Rand Paul’s “Jimmy Stewart-esque filibuster over the Obama administration’s drone policy,” achieved something Chris Matthews “forgets” to mention:
The usually unresponsive potentate responded to Rand:
The U.S. government cannot target an American citizen who is not engaged in combat on American soil, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Thursday during his daily press briefing. … Carney said that Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) had on Thursday asked the administration if the president has the authority to use a mechanized drone against an American on U.S. soil who is not engaged in hostile activities. “The answer to that question is no,” Carney said. Appearing on CNN on Thursday afternoon, Paul declared that Holder’s response was satisfactory and that he would allow a vote on Brennan’s nomination.
“I’m quite happy with the answer and I’m disappointed it took a month and a half and a root canal to get it,” Paul said.
Not so fast. Writes Reason’s Brian Doherty: “But who is a noncombatant? What constitutes engaging in hostile activities to the White House? Does this still leave the ‘we declare you a combatant” excuse? More clarity needed.'”
Via Politico, the complete text of a letter Attorney General Holder sent to Rand Paul today. In its entirety: “It has come to my attention that you have now asked an additional question: ‘Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?’ The answer to that question is no.”
Still: what defines “engaged in combat” to you guys? Doesn’t seem to actively apply to most victims of overseas drones. Does it mean, as Lindsey Graham suggested, just being a member of Al-Queda, a topic on which the White House will undoubtedly declare itself sole judge (and then jury, and executioner)? Also, the mechanism of the kill–mechanized drone–isn’t the sole issue at point here. It’s summary executive power to decide who to kill without charge or trial in a Forever War.
POLITICAL TRIANGULATION. MSNBC’s Chris Matthews can rise on his hind legs all he likes, in trying to bad-mouth Rand Paul’s valiant effort. Politically, Rand has triangulated—gotten some on the Left to listen, neutralized flaccid neoconservatives such as McMussolini and Sen. Lindsey Graham, and galvanized idiotic GOPers—pure partisans, who care not about the principle (they love droning dem ‘terrorists’), but see this as a blow against Obama.
UPDATE IV: Gloats Glenn Beck (who harbors no love for the GOP): “Did Rand Paul just kill the old GOP?”
Rand Paul has a long way to go to become my action hero. Let’s see him use the tactics he has applied against drones on the homegrown terrorists of the TSA.
UPDATE V (3/8): Via LRC.COM, William Grigg unpacks “What Holder Really Said”:
…Like all statements from people who presume to rule others, this brief message from Holder – – who is Nickolai Krylenko to Obama’s Josef Stalin – should be read in terms of the supposed authority claimed thereby. This means removing useless qualifiers in the interest of clarity.
What Holder is saying, in substantive terms, is that the President does have the supposed authority to use a drone to kill an American who is engaged in “combat,” whether here or abroad. “Combat” can consist of expressing support for Muslims mounting armed resistance against U.S. military aggression, which was the supposed crime committed by Anwar al-Awlaki, or sharing the surname and DNA of a known enemy of the state, which was the offense committed by Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, Abdel. Under the rules of engagement used by the Obama Regime in Pakistan, Yemen, and Afghanistan, any “military-age” male found within a targeted “kill zone” is likewise designated a “combatant,” albeit usually after the fact. This is a murderous application of the “Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy,” and it will be used when — not if — Obama or a successor starts conducting domestic drone-killing operations.
Holder selected a carefully qualified question in order to justify a narrowly tailored answer that reserves an expansive claim of executive power to authorize summary executions by the president. That’s how totalitarians operate.
Will Grigg is right, but nothing Grigg says detracts from Rand’s effort. Grigg’s analysis, invaluable as it usually is, is not an argument against … putting up a fight.
I myself believe that the only fight that’ll bear fruit is the fight Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) alluded to:
“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.”