12 hours and 52 minutes. That’s how long Senator Rand Paul spoke for in a rare, actual stand-up-and-talk filibuster yesterday in an attempt to put an end to the appointment of John O. Brennan to the post of director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Now, I’m not necessarily a fan of all of Rand Paul’s political ideologies. For example I’m opposed to overturning Roe v. Wade and letting the states individually sort out their own abortion laws because, well let’s be honest, most state legislatures can’t be trusted with things like basic reproductive rights. Hell, some major metropolitan mayors can’t even be trusted to not meddle with your favorite beverage, let alone if women have a right to determine whether they’re prepared to enter into motherhood or not. Still, I have to salute the Senator from Kentucky for taking a very important stand and attempting to draw attention to an incredibly crucial issue: the fact that apparently the Obama administration would be okay with using unmanned drone strikes on US citizens on American soil.
This whole business – the idea that the executive branch of this country has no current plans to undertake unconstitutional drone strikes on its own citizens but won’t “take the option off the table” – should be absolutely terrifying to the point of completely derailing the entirety of American public discourse until this is resolved. Sadly there seems to be little to no action being taken on this subject – or at least there hadn’t seemed to be until Senator Paul’s half-day filibuster yesterday, which was appropriate since Mr Brennan, one time White House Counter-Terrorism Chief, was one of the chief architects of the unmanned aerial vehicle strike program. Mr Brennan has even said that drone strikes (on targets overseas) were “ethical and just,” even as he refused to address concerns on innocent civilians killed in drone strikes that were ostensibly to eliminate Al Queda operatives.
I have to applaud Senator Paul for doing his damnedest to blow the lid off this issue. I’d like to think that the news media are poised to have a field day with this today, but something tells me that it could just as easily be downplayed as well. What concerns me is that during the filibuster, Senator Paul was given a helping hand by several fellow Republican Senators who interrupted to either ask him long-winded questions or with miniature filibusters of their own to give the Kentucky Senator a few moments to catch his breath and drink some water, but only one Democrat, Oregon’s Senator Ron Wyden, broke partisan ranks and stepped up in order to lend words of support to the impetus behind the filibuster in the first place.
Senator Wyden, who said “the executive branch should not be allowed to conduct such a serious and far-reaching program by themselves without any scrutiny, because that’s not how American democracy works,” remarked that the filibuster raised “a number of important points” about Mr. Brennan’s appointment and his involvement in the drone strike program. Still, the Senator from Oregon said that he still supported Mr. Brennan’s nomination and plans to vote in favor of his appointment.
Like I said at the beginning of this blog post, there’s a lot that Rand Paul and I don’t agree on. But on this issue? I’m behind him 100%. Not only that, but I’m absolutely shocked that he hasn’t gotten more bipartisan support. It used to be that the social justice firebrands in U.S. politics used to be the Democrats, but even the one Democrat that stood up and spoke out against the drone strike program said in the same breath that he quite literally wasn’t going to do anything about it. How is it that no other Democrats got off their asses in order to break party ranks in order to push the issue of the possibility of unconstitutional drone strikes on Americans while on U.S. soil, to say nothing of the immoral and unethical use of drones in foreign theaters of war? Where are the cries of outrage and dismay? It’s disconcerting in the extreme that people that most definitely should know better are simply letting this matter go by sticking their heads in the sand when it comes to this issue, and it most certainly does not bode well for things to come.