By Dustin Hurst | Watchdog.org – IDAHO FALLS, Idaho – Freedom made a cameo on the floor of the U.S. Senate for several hours Wednesday as Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul led a bipartisan filibuster in protest of the administration’s drone-use policy.
Just a day before, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder sent Paul a letter explaining that the federal government could use a drone strike in certain circumstances, typically in a case of extreme emergency.
Paul hit the Senate floor just before noon to express his outrage, announcing his intent to block President Barack Obama’s nomination of John Brennan as director of the Central Intelligence Agency. While the Kentucky senator noted somewhere in hour five that the filibuster would be “a blip” in Brennan’s ascension to to the top spy job, Paul said the old-fashioned filibuster might open a national discussion on appropriate drone use.
“No American should ever be killed in their house without warrant and some kind of aggressive behavior by them,” Paul said. “To be bombed in your sleep? There’s nothing American about that.”
“I will not sit quietly and let him shred the Constitution,” Paul emphasized. “No person will be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process.”
Lest his critics believe the filibuster was simply an attempt to shame PresidentBarack Obama, a Democrat, Paul affirmed several times that he’d follow the same course in the face of a Republican power grab.
“I’ve been critical of both sides for thinking they have more power than they have,” Paul said, adding that Obama’s predecessor, Republican George W. Bush, unconstitutionally interpreted law.
In his sixth hour, Paul posed a scenario in which enemies of big government, Libertarians or Constitutionalists, are targeted by drone strikes while attending party confabs. “Are we going to kill people going from meeting to the next?” he asked, noting that the federal government previously classified conservatives as potential domestic terrorists.
He also worried that the federal government would mistakenly target Americans of Arab descent who might have relatives in the Middle East.
“But if you are sitting in a cafeteria in Dearborne, if you happen to be an Arab-American who has a relative in the middle east and you communicate with them by e-mail and somebody says, oh, your relative is someone we suspect of being associated with terrorism, is that enough to kill you?” Paul asked. “We have a process for deciding this.”
Paul urged strict adherence to due process and the fifth amendment to the U.S. Constitution in such matters. “I don’t want a politician deciding my innocence or guilt,” he said.
The Kentucky senator led the filibuster, but he didn’t go it alone. Through the early hours, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, among others, joined the campaign.
The presence of Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, though, sent shock waves through Twitter as the filibuster earned bipartisan credentials. Wyden promised to support Brennan’s nomination, but praised Paul’s move.
“I want it understood that I have great respect for this effort to really ask these kinds of questions,” Wyden said. “And Sen. Paul has certainly been digging into these issues in great detail.”
Paul gained another unlikely fan Wednesday: anti-war group Code Pink. The group, known for loudly interrupting official meetings to spread its pacifist message, tweeted love for Paul several times throughout the filibuster.
“We’ve been against drones since day 1. Thank you to
#RandPaul for standing up for the rights of the American people,” the group tweeted.
Code Pink ardently opposes Brennan’s nomination, calling him the mastermind behind Obama’s drone strategy.
During the fifth hour, Paul beat back an effort by Democratic Majority LeaderHarry Reid of Nevada to end the filibuster.
Update: Paul ended the filibuster after 12 hours and 50 minutes.
Contact: Dustin@Watchdog.org or @DustinHurst via Twitter.