Why Rand Paul’s Filibuster Mattered
Rand Paul's filibuster is one that all American's should thank him for that.
As I noted yesterday while it was going on, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul filibustered the nomination of John Brennan to be Director of Central Intelligence primarily to bring attention to the issue of the targeting of American citizens by the United States and the Administration’s intentions regarding the possible future use of drones on American soil. It was clear to everyone involved that Paul wasn’t going to do much to stop Brennan’s nomination, of course. The most he could do is delay it for as long as he was able to hold the floor. As it turned out, he ended up lasting just under thirteen hours, and for pretty much the entire time he and a small group of Republicans managed to spend the entire time talking about an issue that doesn’t get much attention among the Washington/New York pundit class:
WASHINGTON — A small group of Republicans, led by Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, stalled the Senate on Wednesday by waging a nearly 13-hour old-school, speak-until-you-can-speak-no-more filibuster over the government’s use of lethal drone strikes — forcing the Senate to delay the expected confirmation of John O. Brennan to lead the Central Intelligence Agency.
Mr. Paul, who opposes Mr. Brennan’s nomination, followed through on his plan to filibuster the confirmation of President Obama’s nominee after receiving a letter this month from Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. that refused to rule out the use of drone strikes within the United States in “extraordinary circumstances” like the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
On Wednesday, Mr. Paul did exactly as promised, taking to the Senate floor shortly before noon and holding forth for 12 hours and 52 minutes.
Mr. Paul finally wound down shortly before 1 a.m. on Thursday, surrounded by a group of Republican senators and House members who had joined him on the Senate floor in a show of solidarity.
“I would go for another 12 hours to try to break Strom Thurmond’s record, but I’ve discovered that there are some limits to filibustering and I’m going to have to go take care of one of those in a few minutes here,” Mr. Paul said to knowing laughter as he referred to the legendary South Carolina senator known for his 28-hour filibuster. (Mr. Paul could not leave the floor to use the bathroom, making his filibuster at a certain point seem less a standoff between the senator from Kentucky and the administration than a battle between Mr. Paul and his own bladder.)
After almost 13 hours, Mr. Paul offered his final words: “I thank you very much for the forbearance, and I yield the floor,” he said, to loud applause.
Earlier in the evening, as the filibuster moved into its 11th and 12th hours, the mood grew increasingly punchy, with Mr. Paul’s Republican Senate colleagues — who had joined him on the Senate floor periodically throughout the event — making repeat appearances and quoting liberally from pop culture and literature.
Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, at one point seemed to stage a mini-filibuster of the filibuster, reading from Shakespeare (“Henry V”) and quoting from “Patton.”
Not to be outdone, Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, took to the floor for his second appearance of the filibuster, quoting the rapper Wiz Khalifa, as well as “that modern-day poet by the name of Jay-Z.” Mr. Rubio also quoted from “The Godfather” three times — including, he said, a quote that never made it from the script into the movie. (“A lawyer with his briefcase can steal more than 100 men with guns can steal.”)
“I don’t know how that’s relevant to this,” Mr. Rubio admitted, “but I thought I’d bring it up.”
At a certain point, as the hour edged closer to midnight, participating in the filibuster seemed to become the gold standard among Senate Republicans, with a parade of Republican senators — Jeff Flake of Arizona; Ron Johnson of Wisconsin; Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader in the Senate; and Tim Scott of South Carolina — emerging for the first time to show their support for Mr. Paul’s cause, not to mention the C-SPAN cameras.
I suspect that more than a few of the Senators who showed up in the late evening hours last night were motivated less by the sudden concern over U.S. drone policy and that limits of Presidential authority than they were by their own political fortunes. Indeed, one can clearly see that as being the case when it comes to Mitch McConnell. who surprised pretty much everyone by showing up not long before midnight. Whatever their motivation, though, each of the Senators that appeared ended up assisting Paul to some extent by at least giving him a chance to rest his voice. For the most part, though, it seemed clear to me that most of the Republican Senators that came to the floor did so only after it became clear that Paul had captured public attention. By the evening, the story was trending worldwide on Twitter and was receiving coverage on all three of the cable news networks. Paul was even receiving support from the ACLU, Code Pink, and Jon Stewart before the evening had ended. In the end, though, it was obvious that the filibuster wasn’t going to last forever. During the evening, there were many who speculated that Paul was aiming for the record of 24 hours, 18 minutes set by Strom Thurmond in 1957, and though it turned out that he lasted for just half that time, one could argue that he accomplished far more than Thurmond did when he spent an entire day reading from various documents in a doomed effort to stop the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957.
National Journal ‘s Matthew Cooper, for example, notes that, by holding forth on the Senate floor for more than half a day, Senator Paul revealed something about Washington that isn’t all that good:
Rand Paul’s filibuster was surprising, compelling, and a perfect window into Washington’s hypocrisy.
Because it was so simply framed–the question of using drones to kill Americans on American soil–it was compelling in a way that, say, the Chuck Hagel filibuster–a knotty bundle of resentments and exaggerations–couldn’t be. The Kentucky Republican’s crusade also gained strength from being the old-timey kind of filibuster where senators actually talked at length and everyone speculated about the size of their bladder. (Paul gave in after about 13 hours, around 1 a.m.) It wasn’t the lazy obstructionism of recent years.
Paul had tapped into something primal, not only on the right where the likes of Grover Norquist cheered him on, but also on the antiwar left where Code Pink, the plucky protesters best known for disrupting hearings and speeches weighed in. No wonder Republican senators, including Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, raced to the floor to join in. Paul had beaten McConnell’s hand-picked candidate in the 2010 GOP primary, and McConnell is concerned about a primary challenge from the right so it’s no surprise he Velcroed himself to the upstart.
And therein lies the first part of the hypocrisy. Republican senators who had embraced Cheneyism–enhanced interrogation, Guantanamo, rendition, military tribunals–last night evinced a touching, tender sympathy for civil liberties and due process. Conservative bloggers were quick to say there was no hypocrisy: Cheney-era policies were about enemy combatants, foreigners with fewer if any rights, as opposed to American citizens. But that doesn’t explain why the same conservatives had nothing to say for the rights of Bradley Manning, the Army soldier who transferred thousands of files to Wikileaks. Whether he’s a traitor or simply a well-intentioned whistle-blower gone awry, the point is that he was treated with questionable due process, and none of the Republicans who had hastily refashioned themselves as ACLU members had said a wit about it even though Manning is very much an American.
Greater hypocrisy lies with Democrats, who have expressed only modest interest in Paul’s cause. Where was Al Franken last night? Or Barbara Boxer? They could have joined Paul on the floor briefly, as did Democratic Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, all while pledging to vote for the president’s pick to head the CIA, John Brennan. But their voices were in absentia.
Indeed, Paul’s position on drone strikes, as well as many other areas of U.S. foreign and military policy is not exactly in tune with what polite Washington considers the mainstream view. He rejects the idea of pre-emptive war, for example, which remains one of the pillars of whatever is left of the Bush-era consensus that still seems to be the controlling foreign policy zeitgeist of the Republican Party. Many of the Senators who came to the floor to support him last night would likely oppose him on issues ranging from aid to the rebels in Syria to the question of exactly what the United states ought to do in response to the Iranian nuclear weapons program. On the left side of the spectrum, as Cooper notes, the only Democrat who came to the floor was Oregon’s Ron Wyden. As Cooper notes, Paul’s filibuster served an important purpose by revealing what is essentially partisan hypocrisy on both sides of the aisle. The Republicans who joined him on the floor, by and large, would be silent if a Republican were in the White House, and indeed many of them were silent during the Bush era when it came to issues ranging from enhanced interrogations to extraordinary renditions. The Democrats in the Senate who claim to care about civil liberties and checking the power of an overly powerful Executive Branch, showed their true colors by not appearing on the floor at all. It’s a reality I’m sure we all knew existed before, but Senator Paul did a fine job of exposing it last night, even if that wasn’t his actual intention.
There’s something more important about Paul’s filibuster, though. For nearly 13 hours, a United States Senator held forth on issues ranging from war policy, to the powers of the Presidency, to civil liberties and raised questions for the Executive Branch, and the American people, that rarely get asked. Unlike most instances when these issues are part of the public debate, this wasn’t simply an instance where platitudes were raised and slogans were repeated. As I’ve said repeatedly in the past, the American people have a right to know what is being done in their name, and they have a right to know exactly what their government thinks it can do in their name. Over the past several years, the President has asserted broad new powers in the form of a drone war that doesn’t just assist ground forces in combat, but is also used to target people believed to be involved in terrorist activities. Most controversially, it’s been used to target an American citizen determined by the President to have been a terrorist without even a modicum of due process. Paul’s filibuster raised important questions to which we deserve answers, and for that at least he deserves our thanks.
I think Frum makes a more compelling case why Rand’s filibuster deserves no accolades. Why You Shouldn’t #StandWithRand
The question was stupid to begin with. But it was asked and answered. The filibuster was empty grandstanding.
I know Rand is your fair-haired boy, but this was empty attention-whoring.
Rand Paul reminds me of a boss I had once. He got to be our company president because his sister in law was the owners mistress. Every now and again he’d do something sensible and I’d think, ‘Gee, maybe I’ve misjudged him.’ Then next day he’d be completely off in the ozone again. Much as I sympathize with opposition to war and to targeted killings, being right twenty percent of the time just doesn’t get it done.
I should have known…the same old BOTH SIDES DO IT FETISHISM.
As always…it takes a hefty portion of pure BS to get there.
Rant Pauls filibuster matters to Doug because:
Now Doug can sleep soundly…Rant Paul has single handedly made him safe from a dystopian world that only exists in the minds of loony libertarians.
Give me a break.
He got an answer to an asinine hypothetical. Next Rand can filibuster until the AG produces a set of guidelines for the zombie apocalypse.
I was at the Telluride Blues and Brews Festival this past fall and there was a drone taking aerial photos and videos.
Little did I know at the time that it was President Obama
If I believed in god I would thank her for Rand Paul…he has single-handedly made abusing alcohol and drugs at altitude safe again.
Dems are hypocrites because they didn’t show up for a GOP senator’s stunt? Most of the Dem caucus has actually voted on the right side of civil liberties issues, even when doing so meant their patriotism was in question. Sorry, but filibustering the CIA director’s nomination for 12 hours may be about the best thing Rand Paul has done in the Senate, it’s not such a big deal for Dems. There’s plenty to criticize in the Dem caucus with regards to non-support of civil liberties since Obama was elected, but no-showing for Rand Paul’s stunt isn’t one of them.
To be more clear in response to Sen Paul’s question. Should Mr. Paul and his Tea Party buddies try to secede KY from the Union, and should Mr. Paul then forcibly oppose officials attempting to enforce Federal law in KY, yes, Obama can and should put a Hellfire on Mr. Paul where the sun don’t shine.
What’s amazing about the Internet cocoon is that it’s such a cocoon people inside the cocoon can’t see even the edges of the cocoon, leading to the next layer of the cocoon.
Let me put it this way:
4 million. That’s the combined prime time audience of Fox News, CNN and MSNBC. Give or take. Sometimes they’ll have a banner night and they’ll draw in the aggregate 6 million people. Roughly that’s the sum total of the hard core political chattering class.
Well, Sparky, there are around 180 million registered voters in this country. The employed W-2 workforce is 135 million, and that’s despite the crappy economy and the crappy job market. The total workforce is about 156 million. Upwards of 130 million people voted in last November’s general election. Mitt Romney last November received around 61 million votes, and not only did he lose that election he was in many respects a walking mannequin.
IOW you need to flush out your brain and start over. For every loopy person who’s obsessing over drone strikes there are a couple of dozen who aren’t. For every person who was on C-SPAN, hanging on Rand Paul’s every syllable, there are hundreds more who wouldn’t know Rand Paul from Chris Paul or from Paul Stanley.
Perspective. It’s lacking.
Erosion of civil liberties has been very much a bipartisan affair, with Bush starting us down that road, Obama taking it further and establishing yesterday’s abuses as today’s ho-hum policies, and the Congress acting as a rubber stamp for executive over-reach.
Notice it wasn’t liberals (a word that no longer has any meaning) who stood to defend some of our most basic rights; not the “socialist” friend-of-the-people Bernie Sanders, or Dianne Feinstein, or Harry Reid. It wasn’t conservatives (which has no more meaning than the word liberal) who woleheartedly agree with the ceaseless efforts of this President and his predecessor to expand the powers of the executive at the peoples’ expense. It was the lone libertarian in the Senate, the only one who made even the slightest effort to question policy.
The venom aimed at him by “liberals” (see above in thread) is entirely about their anger and embarrassment at being outed as amoral sycophants by Paul’s tactics.
Umm, not just that, they’d oppose him on everything he was articulating as he filibustered, which is why Rand won’t actually be proposing any legislation on the AUMF, racial profiling, gitmo, etc, beyond a meaningless sense of the senate resolution.
They haven’t changed their tune even in reflexive opposition to a dem President. If for whatever reason it was back in the news, they’d still be hammering him on not torturing, on trying to close Gitmo, on trying to have trials of terror suspects in the U.S., on Mirandizing terror suspects, etc. Stop pretending this was anything more than meaningless pandering to complicit libertarians who vote for them, and treat their empty rhetoric on a pet issue as mana from heaven.
Surprise, surprise….Both sides do it!
What a joke.
I criticized Bush for going to war with Iraq, but because I thought mounting an expensive invasion of a country that didn’t attack us over non-existent WMD was just stupid. Many Democrats felt the same.
Oh you thought we were pacifists? Your mistake.
Somewhere in America today, a cop will shoot someone, killing him. The government will kill an American citizen on US soil, without due process, without anything but token after the fact oversight.
Conservatives will not make a sound. They don’t really care about the government killing citizens, they do care about damaging Obama, any way they can.
The fact that the deceased will probably be poor and black is certainly a factor in the roaring silence as well.
Doug has no idea why Trump was invited to CPAC, why Republicans are so focused on rape, or why there is so much racial dog whistling on the R side.
He does, however know that both sides do it, and Democrats are worse.
I now have enough info to conclude his posts on politics aren’t worth reading.
Well stated, Mr. Mataconis. Most of your readers throw bricks at Sen. Paul. It beats having to think carefully and clearly.
Mr. Holder, when posed the question as a witness before a Senate committee, hemmed/hawed and engaged in prolonged lawyer-speak. All he needed do was either state ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. Holder is incapable, it seems, of anything but lawyer-speak.
He and his boss were subjected to no small embarrassment by Sen. Paul and his colleagues, who simply wished an answer to a simple question, a very relevant question, given the rapid advances of technology, Mr. Obama’s reputation for mendacity, and Mr. Holder’s inability to communicate in clear English.
The ability of a Senator, or group of them, to grind things to a halt for a day and demand answers to hard questions is one of the few tools available to prevent this country from going the way of Argentina.
Let the Lefties laugh all they wish. America had a good day yesterday.
What Rand Paul did was trolling – it was a stupid question that Obama refused to answer. But Obama deserves this kind of trolling. And I take Rand Paul over McCain, Graham or Ayotte at any time of the day.
I also take Rand Paul over David Frum at any time of the day.
Brennan was confirmed today 63-34.
So what exactly did Rand Paul accomplish?
Transcript of Rand’s filibuster:
How about not venerating someone who stokes & panders to the fears of the militia movement & other assorted conspiracy theorist kooks?
I agree with a lot of that. Holder can’t seem to manage to wean himself of the lawyer-speak. He still hasn’t learned that, at this level, he must be a politician as well.
The answer he should have given, the one that was eventually beaten out of him, a simple “No!”, is the correct answer, no matter how it would have been graded by a law prof.
It didn’t. Glad I could clear that up.
When Democrats raised concerns about the vast increase in the power and size of our security apparatus under Bush, they were called traitors by conservatives.
What exactly has changed?
Pandora is out of the box. I don’t think she is going back in. I wish it were different than that, but it’s not.
It is unclear to me why many of you have a problem with the Rand Paul filibuster unless you are addicted to party politics. If you can forget about other issues you disagree with Mr. Paul on, and they may be lengthy, what is wrong with protesting about the potential marginalization of citizen’s life while on their native soil by a robot? This is a fundamental value perhaps made best, in this case, by an American senator, of whichever party. I’d support the same in any country, Let our police sort these problems out, not drones. Cheers.
I suspect that if a Democrats had done it, progressives would be praising the filibuster as a move for the ages. I am amazed about how quickly the Democrats have taken up the role that the Repubilcans had during the Bush II Administration: water carriers.
What is amazing is how politics for progressives has become like high school: it is all about being one of the cool kids and trying to bully conservatives. I guess that is why progressives do not like a Republican getting up and talking about issues.
What’s your position on using drones against zombies? Dumb question. Lowers the level of debate by seeming to validate bizarre fantasies.
What’s your position on whether the government should back whites or blacks in the coming race war? Give us an answer! Black or white! Or else I’ll filibuster!
Stupid hypotheticals should generally be ignored. Because otherwise you validate the stupid hypothetical and we take another turn around the toilet bowl in the flushing of intelligent debate.
Plenty on the left are being fooled by Paul’s theatrics. There’s a serious love-in for him right now over at Daily Kos.
The only issue you’ve had is race. You have never been part of an intelligent debate, you’re just a hardcore racist trolling for fellow travelers. And your better class of Republican has no more time for you than Democrats do.
Because otherwise you validate the stupid hypothetical and we take another turn around the toilet bowl in the flushing of intelligent debate.
Yup! All Rand Paul did yesterday was turn the Senate floor into one of his dad’s nutty newsletters.
We have our own paranoid fantasists.
Or, from Rand Paul’s filibuster transcript, ‘what’s your position drone striking a libertarian or constitution party gathering?’ Or, ‘what’s your position on our drone policy’s impact on us after we turn into Cairo under martial law, or our currency collapses and we turn into Nazi Germany?’
Amy Goodman has an interesting column America is shamed only Rand Paul is talking about drone executions, at the Guardian.
However, partisan animus will prevent her words from sinking in.
Anjin-san, your point about cops killing minorities would make an interesting topic for say Senator Warren’s filibuster of the next feed the bankers bill. She could simply read the names and short 50 word or so description of what happened, agencies involved and outcomes.
Maybe the people at Kos just do not want to look like raving hypocrites. Maybe a few of the people at Kos have decide to not be water-carriers for the Democratic Party establishment.
Once again progressives prove that rules are for others. I mention the way that mainstream progressives are behaving and progressives like M.R. have to immeidately resort to name calling. I guess it makes sense that the cool kids love to bully everyone else.
@Rick Almeida: Yeah, not worth reading, but a great source of comic relief is one needs it.
You have a really odd image of the way a good chunk of the online Left behaves. IMO, they’re almost defined by the zeal with which they eat their own or how little it takes for them to start up the ol’ circular firing squad.
They’ve been tearing into Obama on civil liberties his entire presidency (hell, from even before he was elected w/ his FISA vote). A good chunk of them view nearly everything he does through a lens of constant suspicion. Like the Right and their ‘secret muslim socialist’ conspiracies, the Left is often just as bad with their ‘Obama’s a secret republican corporatist plant’.
@Rick Almeida: speaking of rape;
I see no reason to block quote what I already said here
Agreed on all points. Regardless of the fact that this fillibuster was initiated by Rand Paul, it’s unfortunate that more Democrats didn’t take the opportunity to participate. Clearly, Ron Wyden — who deserves kudos for joining in — felt so too:
Interestingly enough, according to the WaPo, Wyden joined in while being “satisfied with Attorney General Eric Holder’s [initial] response to Paul’s question about drone strikes on American soil.”
If you want to participate in adult conversation and be taken seriously try not to spend 90% of your time spouting racist drivel.
I hate to say that, but I agree with SD. Amy Goodman, Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald are not representative of the majority of liberals, unfortunately.
He should have filibustered to get the drone memos released instead. Would’ve both answered his question and given the public something to digest.
I’m surprised to see so many dismissing Paul on the merits though, and forgetting that this is what actual filibusters should look like. I’d prefer this to any procedural silent filibuster any day, and the Senate Democrats remain colossal idiots for failing to reform it when they had the chance.
Totally agree that I like the form of this filibuster, and totally agree about Senatorial reform.
But the net effect will be to put yet another paranoid right-wing fantasy into the “credible” column. Rand Paul suckered the country. Not a damn thing to be done about it now, but the political discourse just got a wee bit dumber.
Agreed on all counts.
Also, regardless of his motivation, it seems pretty clear that Rand Paul won this media cycle with the first filibuster since Bernie Sanders took to the floor in December of 2010 to protest the extension of the Bush tax cuts. Frankly, I’d like to see more of the “traditional” filibusters take place.
Which I guess means his PR gambit successfully queued up this:
Politico – Rand Paul: ‘Seriously’ weighing 2016 bid
Often the “both sides are guilty” rhetoric is BS, but not in this case. A huge swath of democrats stopped giving a ^%$# about the war and civil liberties the nanosecond obama was sworn in. They deserve every bit as much scorn as the republicans who supported all this crap during bush.
We went from one party that supported torture to two that do. That was not a good day for America.
I’m with Wyden. And to whatever degree Paul can lure the right away from their unconscionable support of evil I ‘ll happily salute him.
Drones or not, Obama has asserted an inherent unimpeachable right to order the assassination of americans with no oversite by anyone. Sorry to say Obama pushed this “fantasy” into the credible column when he, you know, admitted it was true.
@michael reynolds: senators leahy, wyden and merkley seemed to think the whore had a terrific point. So do I. Being liberal doesn’t mean we have to wink at Obama desecrating his oath of office–to defend and protect the CONSTITUTION. But that’s what people like you are doing. Howling at bush but kissing Obama’s ass. That make you the whore. And for the record I am a liberal democrat who is ashamed of this administrations disdain for civil liberties.
Once again insults are all progressives have. MR must believe that anyone who say something other than Democrats good, Republican bad is a racist.
As I have pointed out many times, I always find it odd that progressives push separate and unequal programs and push for programs that judge Americans by their race and ethnicity and yet, claim to not be bigots. If progressives want to not be viewed as bigots and racist, then they have to willing to criticize non-whites and they cannot stand in front of the Supreme Court and argue that discrimination is good when they do it.
You would have a point if you could point to all of the protest that occurred during the second Obama Inaugural or all of the protest and street theater during Obama campaign stops.
Considering that the biggest protest in the last four years was OWS and it was the same people who were protesting Bush just shifted to protesting the private sector. When was the last time the organized left really protested something that the Obama Administration did. Who were the progressives who protested military action in Libya versus all of the left of center types who carried water for President Obama and wrote about how the War Powers Act was meaningless.
The very first sentence of your linked article reads:
What in that quote do you find remarkable?
Um, Doug? Part of your day job does involve writing coherently, I would assume?
Once Superdope goes full-metal racist the thread is done.
I was looking for the Doug post explaining how 240,000 new jobs portends the end of free society and a double-dip recession.
Guess he’s still swooning over Paul’s political stunt.
You’re offering a good example of what I was complaining of. You’ve jumped to treating this as credible when it never was. There was never the slightest, tiniest shred of a reason to suspect that this or any POTUS was planning on dropping Hellfires of dissidents in the US. And that’s what Rand Paul implied. That’s now part of the dialog, which makes said dialog that much less honest, that much more paranoid, and that much more useless.
I’ll tell you how you got played: classic magician’s misdirection. You followed the shiny object: the drone.
The drone is irrelevant. The same can be accomplished with a helicopter or a jet or a man with a gun. Rephrase Rand Paul’s question: Does the president intend to use F-16s to drop bombs on Tea Party members?
That’s the question you now laud him for asking. And you approve of his grandstanding to get an answer he’d already gotten.
@Rick Almeida & @bill: Can we put a moratorium on discussing “Party Strategists” who don’t have any record… you know… actually working for a party?
It’s one thing to pull quotes from Axelrod or Rove or (god help us) Morris — these people have a record of actually working on major party campaigns. Unfortunately most of the news channels are filled with “stategists” who have never actually worked as paid strategists.
It tough to have an intelligent conversation when the other side talks pure nonsense.
“Drones or not, Obama has asserted an inherent unimpeachable right to order the assassination of americans with no oversite by anyone.”
No, he hasn’t.
Congress authorized the President to take military action against Al Qaeda. Obama asserts that in pursuing that Congressionally-authorized course, he has the right to launch a military strike against a military target even if that target happens to have a U.S. birth certificate.
On the flip side, drone nuts appear to be arguing that Obama should publish a list of all potential military targets and then I guess Congress would exercise some sort of veto, telling the President he could attack Target A but not Target B and base that veto not on military or even geopolitical reasons but on whatever makes warms the cockles of civil libertarians.
I said most of what I wanted to say in the prior threads on this. Andre, however, gives me a reason to post in this one:
Yes, Paul’s trolling Obama. But Obama deserves to be trolled on this.
That seems exactly right to me. I don’t actually care about the “why” of it. Paul did some grandstanding? No shit. Of course he did. He did it quite well, it seems to me. I think the idea that grandstanding is always bad doesn’t hold water. Sometimes some good ‘ole grandstanding is just what we need.
To my fellow liberals who are worried about national security overreach but don’t care for Paul (so, for example, this does not include Reynolds because he’s obviously not worried about NS policy):
Think of it like OWS. They were a little silly, they didn’t have much in the way of concrete proposals, etc. What they did do, however, was change the conversation. And that mattered.
I think Paul may help change the conversation. If so, it will be a good thing. If not, meh, no big deal – no harm was done.
I’ve had about enough of both the left and right drone fettish. As weapons-they just arent that lethal or effective people. They are cheap however and you get multiple bites at the apple with no risk. If drones were a gun it’d be a Tech 9. They appear to have superior capability because of the inferiority of the current combantants we are engaged with. They’re slow, crash alot, have been hi-jacked by computer hackers, don’t carry much ordinance…they just aren’t the type of weapon you would use in a 1st world country. They ARE highly effective in rural 3rd world nations where there isn’t the technology to detect them and everything is spread out as to make identifying targets easier. These things aren’t robots, they are flown by pilots from remote locations–there’s a difference. Much of the same logistics and planning goes into a drone mission as it does a manned jet mission. I suspect much of the sensationalism is to add an aire of invincibility to the platform to create additional fear and apprehension in our enemies.
The main take away is this—there aren’t any mechanisns to legally employ this platform on us soil as a weapon. Both the military and cia are prohibited from operated on US soil. That leaves the FBI–which is a law enforcement agency that seeks to arrest people and bring them to justice. Due process in encapsulated in the way they operate. FBI just cant off people.
Finally, hats off to Rand Paul. He brought attention to his “cause” and moved on. That’s the way its supposed to be. There needs to be a check on the Executive branch by the Legislative branch for this capability. Just because the technology isn’t there now for this to be a legitimate 1st world weapon doesn’t mean that that will always be the case. The last thing we need to do is make superior military power able to be employed by an increasingly smaller number of people without a large bureaucratic tail to keep and eye on things. Its hasn’t been 100 years since the last credible coup plot against the Fed gov’t (by a group of robber barrons at that) was exposed. Anybody want to bet me that it won’t happen again?
lol, like you have the ability to understand what nonsense is Obama worshiper…hahaha…
But who decides whether someone is a member or Al Qaeda, and thus a military target? That is not as black-and-white of a question as you think it is. There is no official list of Al Qaeda members, there is no battle line to be on the wrong side of, there is no official uniform.
The president (and those who report to him) claim the ability to name any person on earth, even a US citizen, as a member of Al Qaeda, and summarily execute them anywhere in the world with no oversight or due process. Some people have a problem with that.
@Ben: “But who decides whether someone is a member or Al Qaeda, and thus a military target? That is not as black-and-white of a question as you think it is.”
Yes, it is that black-and-white. The people who decide if someone is a member of Al Qaeda are the same ones who decided if someone was a member of the KGB or Shining Path or the Sandinistas. Who else would do it? The difference is that Congress did not give the President blanket authority to kill the members of those groups.
If we believe Al Qaeda is no longer a threat or not enough of one to justify a war footing, Congress should rescind its authorization of military force. Vietnam-style political micro-managing isn’t the answer to anything.
What’s the alternative? Do we need a court trial before dropping the hammer on an AQ terrorist?
Congress has whatever oversight it wishes to assert. If it isn’t exercising it, it’s because they chose not to. There are no courts that have jurisdiction over CIA actions on foreign soil. So what do you propose?
No, it didn’t. No, he doesn’t. And the only reason it matters is that having seen all the publicity Paul got, we’ll have every tin pot Tea Party senator wanting to best Paul’s time. Or maybe Linsey Graham next, trying to fend off his primary challenge, or John McCain jealous someone got more camera time than he did. The frikkin TP House members are probably trying to figure out some way to do it.
According to AUMF, the President is the decider, with full Congressional approval.
Considering he gets daily intelligence briefings and has better information than anyone else, I’m okay with that.
Yes, we’re reminded of that daily. They kind of need to get over it. We’ve been at war with Al Qaeda for over a decade. Only now instead of invading and occupying and rebuilding countries, we’re just sending in the drones.
You know, work smarter, not harder.
That would be a good start. One of the problems with the War on Terror, like the War on Drugs, is its hard to see this happening. Terror is too abstract and existential of a concept to ever be “beat.” That’s what made the initial authorization so problematic.
The second issue is that we’re dealing with entities that don’t always fit simple western classification systems. Especially ones that have both a political and a military arm. And that has a lot of potential problems, especially if we continue to expand targeted killing practices.
“Rand Paul’s filibuster is one that all American’s should thank him for that.”
This is not English.
No, it could not. A helicopter can be easily be put down by a RPG, any manned mission implies the risk of casualties and there always the point of airspace. The problem of drones is that they are not being used in a conventional war, They are using in a war where there is no bondaries. It´s also a coward war, because the “collateral damage” is composed of the weakless and voiceless people possible.
@André Kenji De Sousa:
But Paul was discussing — and thus we are discussing — use of drones in the US where there would be no anti-aircraft fire or airspace issues.
The issue with killing Americans in the US is totally unrelated to the technology used. But the new and shiny drone toy is what people watch, while rather missing the fact that a drone confers no new legal rights on presidents. If we were discussing F-16s we wouldn’t be having this absurd discussion because the absurdity would be evident.
Hah, speak of the devil:
Also ranting in the article are Cornyn, McCain, Graham & Ayotte.
(Apologies for the Washington Times link)
Rand Paul is NOT DISCUSSING DRONE WAR. This is what you people are not getting. Drones in Yemen are a whole different issue.
Paul is discussing whether the POTUS can send death squads to murder dissidents in the US. That’s his issue. “Drone” is irrelevant. How this imaginary POTUS kills these fantasy dissidents is NOT THE ISSUE. Death squad, jet, ICBMs, it’s all one. It’s all POTUS murdering dissidents.
Well-meaning liberals want to turn it into a discussion of drones in Pakistan or Yemen, but that’s not it. This is another round of lunatic paranoia and you people have been suckered.
@André Kenji De Sousa:
Something Al Qaeda should have thought about when they decided to send in the suicide squads and then spent the last 12 years continuing the fight.
Now we have drones. They can’t bait us into occupying another country and bleeding us slow. They can only bait us into bombing their house.
BS. The minimized collateral damage is the drone’s greatest asset.
That and the fact that it has great reach. Oh, and no one comes in a body bag.
@James Pearce (Formerly Known as Herb):
Al Qaeda thought about that. They wanted the United States to go to Afghanistan, so that the muhajadeen could do with the Americans the same thing that they had done to the Soviets.Bush decided to give then a free gift, on Iraq.
No, the drones greatest asset is that no one sees them and they are operating in areas where there are only people that the rest of the world do not care. We talk about the “collateral damage” in abstract terms, because that´s what they are to us.
Yes, as I said, Paul was trolling the Obama Administration. But the Obama Administration deserves to be trolled on that.
@André Kenji De Sousa:
That is really beneath you. You’d be happier if we sent in soldiers so that in addition to killing bad guys our guys died, too? How does that make sense.
FYI, war stopped being a test of moral courage in 1914. (At the latest.) War is not about demonstrating courage, it’s about prevailing.
He generated some “Paul 2016” buzz. That is the name of this game.
But the problem are not the “Drones” per se. The problem is that we don´t see images of the people that are being killed by drones in the NBC Nightly News or in CNN. It´s hard to spot images of them even on Al Jazeera or in the BBC.
They are living in provinces of Yemen or Pakistan where there is no access for people by road. In fact, there Yemeni journalists that are in prison when they tried to report the damages. It´s much easy to kill these people than to bomb people in Mogadishu or in Khartoum. No one knows or notes. The discussion about “better” ways of massacring people seems pretty parochial to me.
The idea that governments can wage war with such facility is not a good thing either. Specially if the people does not have to make any sacrifice to the war effort. Is that the destiny of the United Stetes? Being involved with war in large areas of the world until the end of times?
@Rob in CT:
Yes, Paul’s trolling Obama. But Obama deserves to be trolled on this.
No, he deserves to have Congress exercise their ability to force oversight. Paul didn’t even try that, preferring to grandstand on an irrelevant proceeding, spreading ridiculous wingnut conspiracy theories from the Senate floor. The man is a damned senator, not a blog commenter. He has power to push policy change. You applaud him for trolling. That’s just pathetic on both sides.
Think of it like OWS.
Are you kidding? He’s a senator! He has actual power. Get a clue.
@André Kenji De Sousa:
That was Bush. We’re smarter now.
Well……most of us.
Yes, it really does seem to be a contest to see who cares the most.
I mean, I feel bad about the collateral damage. But I feel less bad about it than I would if we were back to “Shock and Awe.” Less bad than back when we had a nuclear arsenal that could turn the planet into smoldering ash. Less bad than back when were pouring jellied gasoline on jungles. Less bad than back when we were sending waves and waves of infantryman up against fortified beaches.
@James Pearce (Formerly Known as Herb):
That the biggest problem about drones.
@James Pierce (Formerly Known as Herb) The real power brokers of AQ are no where near where we operate drones. They’re in Europe and friendly Arab countries. Our drone operations amount to little more than tentacle pruning. The only reason the tentacle continues to grow back is because in these poor areas of the world there are always people willing to take money to wage jihad. These folks are twice exploited—
I don’t think I follow….
The biggest problem with drones is that they’re just as deadly but have fewer side effects? That’s not a problem for anyone but our enemies.
So, what then, Mr. Reynolds is your answer to the question if we leave out the drone references to “can the president kill US citizens with a bazooka or F16 or his bare hands on domestic soil?”
Seems to me your answer to that question is “Yes. Just don’t confuse this issue by bringing in drones all you fellow liberal over-reactors.”
I really hope I am wrong on my interpretation of your argument so please correct as it seems you are ok with a president terminating US citizens without much oversight.
@Pharoah Narim: Oh, wow…you just gave me the idea for a blockbuster movie.
Drones flying over the U.S. Control gets taken over by Chinese hacker, used to conduct bombing runs on [whatever]…..will Brave Hero and Plucky Little Dog save the day? Tune in on April 17th, when the new movie “Drone!” will be in theatres….
Oooh, I wanna see this movie. I love science fiction.
An excellent article. My favorite line was, “On his own terms, then, [Paul] failed. He secured no answers at all about the legality of drone strikes overseas (which are, let us not forget, the only drone strikes to have ever happened, outside the feverish imaginations of the black-helicopters crowd). Nor did he extract any information from the government about the wider legality of that post September 11th assertion of world-wide war powers. Mr Paul’s filibuster was a waste of his own fine conscience.”
@grumpy realist: I like it. Mix in some stuff about yellow cake, centrifuge tubes, mushrooms clouds, and sprinkle in a Harlem Shake scene and I think we may be looking at hit of “Homeland” proportions.
@James Pearce (Formerly Known as Herb):
No, the real problem is: no one knows to answer a simple question – How many are the country where the United States are at war? We can count Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Mali, Somalia, Ethiopia, Iran as some of the places where drones were spotted. Drones allows endless and borderless war.
And since no one SEES the people being killed by drones is pretty easy to support drone airfare without any guilty.
It may seem like that, but drones are just a weapon. An extraordinary, scarily effective weapon, but just a weapon nonetheless.
Congress is the one who allows endless and borderless wars, and while it would be tempting to high-five Rand Paul over being the first guy in Congress to stand up to “endless and borderless wars,” that’s not what he was doing.
@James Pearce (Formerly Known as Herb):
As I recall it was the Obama administration that continued to wage war in Libya after Congress had declined to authorize continued operations. Something about how use of drobes wasn’t really “war” as there were no boots on the ground, so congress really didn’t get a say.
So the solution is what, impeachment? Like that would do anything other thanwaste the nation’s time and inflame partisan passions. If the executive will ignore congress and the courts look at it as a political question, then really what type of solution are you recommending?
Congress declined to authorize continued operations? Yeah…..didn’t happen.
Here’s a letter the president sent to congressional leaders.
Note the last line:
Congress was on board with Libya the whole time….
At any rate, what’s my “solution?” Well….before I can answer that, what’s the problem?
It’s been official policy for over a decade now that the president has authority to make war on terrorists where-ever they hang their kafiyehs. Congress approved it. Google “AUMF.”
@Pharoah Narim: Somehow we’ve got to get the Illuminati involved. Maybe the drones take off from runways with pentagrams at each end?
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