Drone strikes are the source of Rand Paul’s filibuster.
Paul, a libertarian-oriented Republican and medical doctor, wants the administration — and more specifically Brennan — to come clean as to whether it believes it has the authority to order domestic drone strikes against those American citizens not posing an imminent threat. Brennan has not responded to Sen. Rand’s direct questions about drone strikes to date.
Sen. Paul says he is raising serious constitutional issues about attacks against non-combatants, but the Obama administration has stonewalled and has yet to turn over certain Justice Department memoranda about the drone strike policy. The Obama administration claimed it has the legal authority to use drones to kill American citizens anywhere in the world without the benefit of legal counsel or due process.
On the Senate floor today, Paul vowed to stall a vote on the Brennan nomination for as long as he can hold out:
“I rise today to begin to filibuster John Brennan’s nomination for the C.I.A. 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.”
In testimony on Capitol Hill today, Attorney General Eric Holder did not complete rule out a drone strike within the US but said deploying such lethal force would be “entirely hypothetical” and would only be used in an extraordinary circumstance.
Frank Capra’s Mr. Smith Go To Washington is the famous 1939 movie in which corruption-fighter Smith (a newly appointed idealistic Senator played by James Stewart) refuses to yield the Senate floor and keeps talking around the clock to the point of physical exhaustion to prevent an appropriations bill from going to a vote.
Rand and his allies apparently lack the 41 votes to prevent cloture on the Brennan nomination, therefore Rand must continue speaking without relinquishing the floor, otherwise the chamber will go forward with an up-or-down confirmation vote.
Watch the live feed of the Rand Paul filibuster here.