Mr. Paul Goes to Washington
As Sen. Rand Paul acknowledged early on in his epic 13-hour speech Wednesday (highlights here), his decision to mount an old-fashioned, talk-till-you-drop filibuster of John Brennan’s confirmation as CIA director didn’t really have much to do with Brennan personally. But neither was it really, at a fundamental level, about the narrow question of whether the president can “drop a Hellfire missile on your cafe experience” as you sit sipping a latte on American soil. If any citizens were realistically worried about that prospect, Attorney General Eric Holder has (somewhat belatedly) answered that question in the negative, prompting Paul to declare victory on that front.
But as Wired’s Spencer Ackerman observes, the spectre of Predators over Starbucks actually served to spotlight the “extraordinary breadth of the legal claims that undergird the boundless, 11-plus-year ‘war on terrorism’ ”—and to frame a much broader and more wide-ranging critique of that “perpetual war,” in which Paul charged that Congress has abdicated its responsibilities to an unaccountable executive branch. In Paul’s view, “we shouldn’t be asking [the president] for drone memos”—documents laying out the legal basis for the CIA’s targeted killing program, which the administration has finally, grudgingly deigned to provide to Congress, though not the American public—”we should be giving him drone memos.” As if to highlight the erosion of statutory checks on the president’s counterterror authority, Sen. Lindsey Graham declared that, after all, the Authorization for the Use of Military Force passed after 9/11 made no exception for actions “in the United States”—even though Congress had specifically rejected a request to include that phrase in the authorization.
The broadly positive reaction to Paul’s filibuster suggests, to me at least, that many Americans now fall outside the bipartisan Washington consensus that there’s little need for serious congressional scrutiny or debate when it comes to the War on Terror, and are relieved to hear that dissatisfaction echoed on the Senate floor. No longer as terrorized or shell-shocked as we were a decade ago, perhaps we’re becoming less willing to accept assertions that the public has no business knowing how and when the president may authorize secret killings in countries where we are not formally at war. If we want to get really radical, we may eventually begin to suggest there are proper constraints—if not constitutional, then at least moral—even on the killing of human beings who had the poor taste to be born in another country. We might question whether Americans are being well served when Congress spends less time debating the reauthorization of the Patriot Act or the FISA Amendments Act than Senator Paul did (literally) standing on principle Wednesday night.
Is it absurd to fear, as some of Paul’s colleagues charged, that the president will begin launching drone strikes on American soil? Probably. But the point is precisely that we live under an administration so unwilling to acknowledge meaningful limits on what they may do in the name of national security that it was an exercise in tooth-pulling just to get a public disavowal of an absurd scenario that the government’s anemic targeted killing “standards,” taken to their logical extreme, would not appear to foreclose. The crucial message we should take from Paul’s marathon oration, then, may be this: If it’s absurd to pose the question that inspired his filibuster, surely it’s far more absurd that we’ve arrived, after a decade of complacency about government secrecy and unfettered executive discretion in the sphere of counterterrorism, at a point where the question would need to be posed.
- Kids Brutally Vandalize Man’s Family Home — But Now He’s the One Facing Jail Time 657 Comments
- Does the Bible Predict God’s End-Times Destruction of Syria — and Is Prophecy About to Unfold Before Our Eyes? 474 Comments
- ‘Free at Last’: La. State Senator Explains Why He Recently Left the ‘Government Plantation’ & Joined GOP in Powerful Video 344 Comments
- This Scathing Magazine Cover of the ‘Real’ Rand Paul Has Apparently Not Been Photoshopped in Any Way 316 Comments
- Proof-of-Citizenship Voter Law Struck Down by Supreme Court — and Guess Who Voted with the Majority 283 Comments
Find TheBlaze on your TV
TheBlaze is available on channel .
Spread the word!
If you can't find TheBlaze, please call to upgrade your package
Unfortunately, TheBlaze is not available on .
But you can help! Call at or press CONTINUE to email your provider and urge them to add TheBlaze to your channel lineup.
But you can help! Press CONTINUE to email your provider and urge them to add TheBlaze to your channel lineup.Continue
Please complete the form
Thank you for supporting TheBlaze
Interested in doing more? Spread the word about TheBlaze to your friends and family.
Spread the word!
- Yikes: MSNBC host can’t be bothered to discuss babies’ pain in abortion
- Venezuelan babies now have a ‘right’ to breast-feeding
- Budget sequester now blamed for rape & murder?
- Report: Rick Santorum planning 2016 run
- What should be the Obama and Putin ‘break-up’ song? (Blaze editors share their selections)
- Google asks FISA court to lift gag order
- FBI digging at former home of famed NY mobster
- 18 mayors: Limit use of food stamps to buy soda
- Zimmerman trial attorneys pick 40 potential jurors
- 3 more plead guilty in probe of Pilot Flying J
- Catholic religious order opens abuse files
- Radar shows tornado touched down at Denver airport
- Brazil protesters clash with police in Sao Paulo