Sitting here in what is now the 7th hour of Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-TN) filibuster during the vote on the nomination of John Brennan for CIA Director has been a fun ride. Senator Paul isn’t really filibustering the nomination so much as an important issue that has arisen through this nomination process. Will the President allow for United States Citizens to be killed by drones on United States soil based on evidence of them being an enemy combatant? According to Attorney General Eric Holder during a Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing, the President does. “The president could conceivably have no choice but to authorize the military to use such force if necessary to protect the homeland,” Eric Holder said. Holder even went as far as to use the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force that completely ignores the legislative history of the law that authorized the war against al-Qaeda and stated that we did not exempt the Homeland from that legislation.
With no official statement from the President on whether or not drones would be used to kill US Citizens on US soil, Senator Paul took to the Senate floor and began an old-fashioned filibuster. Senator Paul began his filibuster at 11:47 AM EST with, “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.” And thanks to the hard work of many, a transcript of the first hour can be found here. This issue is a major issue that spans not just military tactics but that of Constitutionally protected rights.
During this filibuster thus far, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS), Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PN), Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) came up and asked lengthy questions and all agreed that an answer from the President on this issue was needed. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) even attempted to get a Unanimous Cloture Vote through that would have ended the filibuster and limited the time of debate. But as usual, Sen. Reid failed as Sen. Paul objected that he would not yield until he had a written statement from the President answering his question and this killed the unanimous cloture motion. Sen. Reid then stated in a hissy fit manner, “We’ll just finish this matter tomorrow,” he said. “Everyone should plan on coming tomorrow. We’re through for tonight.”
During the filibuster thus far, Senator Paul has brought up both the 5th and 6th Amendments that US Citizens are protected by these Amendments to due process, which this drone policy does not do.
V Amendment: No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
VI Amendment: In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
United States Citizens being killed by drones have no received due process or had their day in court. Any US Citizen that is suspected of acting against the United States shouldn’t be killed based solely on the decision of the President but should rather be detained and tried for Treason, which the Constitution list as one of the four crimes that the Federal Courts can preside over. But yet we watch as President Obama continues the policies of President Bush and ignores the Constitution to destroy our rights in the guise of safety. Democrats were up in arms when President Bush began legislation like the Patriot Act which violated privacy rights, even though the legislation had been written by Joe Biden in the 90s, and yet many have been silent while President Obama continues on with these Unconstitutional acts. They claimed that Bush was no different than Hitler and even officially called him a Tyrannical War Criminal. And yet, if you so much as disagree with Obama’s policy, you are called a War Mongering Racist even though Obama has continually gotten the United States involved in Middle Eastern wars.
This filibuster sums up the frustration with this entire Presidency and the Presidency of the past 13 years. We’ve sat backed and watched as our rights have been stripped away one by one all under the guise that it was needed to stop our enemies. And yet at the same time we’ve watched as our enemies have been coddled and even invited to the White House while United States citizens have been the only ones that these “Security Measures” have been used on. But the main question through this filibuster has remained the same, does the President believe that the Constitution can be ignored to kill American Citizens and thus allowing the Executive Branch to be Judge, Jury, and Executioner? Still no response, even while the President begins a dinner with some Republican Senators. But right now, on the Senate Floor, history is being made as someone is finally standing up for Liberty. As Senator Paul stated, nothing may come of this, but at least he’s shined some light on it and brought it up as a point.