It is evident that Rand Paul is starting to scare the rank and file Republicans. After-all, Paul even got support from many in the Liberal Base. Eugene Robinson in the article “Rand Paul made the right call on filibuster” states
The Republican senator from Kentucky, whom I’ve ridiculed as an archconservative kook — because that’s basically what he is — was right to call attention to the growing use of drone aircraft in “targeted killings” by staging a nearly 13-hour filibuster on the Senate floor.
Paul did it the old-fashioned way, by talking and talking until exhaustion or the call of nature compelled him to cease. There are easier ways for a senator to hold up a piece of business — in this case, the nomination of John Brennan as CIA director — and Paul knew that a rare “talking” filibuster would be hard to ignore.
Paul focused narrowly on the simple question of whether “the president has the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, and without trial.”
Holder wrote that “the U.S. government has not carried out drone strikes in the United States and has no intention of doing so. As a policy matter, moreover, we reject the use of military force where well-established law enforcement authorities in this country provide the best means for incapacitating a terrorist threat.”
But Holder added that there might be an “extraordinary circumstance” in which a president would “authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States.”
Paul believed — and I had to agree — that this left the door ajar. Citizens are guaranteed the right to due process by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.
Hours after Paul finished his filibuster, Holder finally closed that door. “It has come to my attention,” he wrote Paul, “that you have now asked an additional question: ‘Does the president have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?’ The answer to that question is no.”
Eugene ends his article with the following.
The way we use drones as killing machines has to be consistent with our freedoms and our values. For grabbing us by the lapels, Rand Paul deserves praise. Yikes, I said it again.
Rand Paul used an important issue to gain notoriety for an issue that concerns both Liberals and Libertarians. For this the Republican rank and file found it necessary to attempt to cut his legs from under him. This, even as he was joined by other prominent Tea Party type Republicans and a Liberal Democrat.
Senator McCain said on the floor of the Senate yesterday
To allege that the United States of America, our Government would drop a drone hellfire missile on Jane Fonda. …. That brings the conversation from a serious discussion about US policy to the realm of the ridiculous. Every time a majority party is in power they become frustrated with the exercise of the minority of their rights here in the Senate. …. Back some years ago there was going to be, we were gonna eliminate, when Republicans, this side of the aisle was in the majority, we were gonna eliminate the ability to call for sixty votes for judges. …. There was another effort just at the beginning of this Senate, umm to do away with the sixty votes and back down to 51 which in my view would have destroyed the Senate. A lot of us, a group of worked real hard for a long time to come up with some compromises that would allow the Senate to move more rapidly but at the same time, and efficiently, but at the same time preserve the sixty vote majority requirement on some pieces of legislation. What we saw yesterday, what we saw yesterday is going to give ammunition to those critics who say that the rules of the Senate are being abused.
Senator Graham follows with:
To my Republican colleagues, I don’t remember any of you coming down here suggesting that President Bush was gonna kill anybody with a drone. I don’t even remember the harshest critics of President Bush on the Democratic side, they had a drone program back then. So what is it, all of a sudden that this drone program has gotten every Republican so spun up. What are we up to here. … And to my party, I am a bit disappointed, that you no longer apparently think we are at war. Not Senator Paul. He is a man unto himself. He has a view that I don’t think is a Republican view. I think it is a legitimately held Libertarian view. You gotta remember, Senator Paul was the one Senator who voted against a resolution that said the policy of the United stated would not be to contain a nuclear capable Iran. It was ninety to one. To his credit, he felt that that would be provocative that may lead to a military conflict. He’d rather have a nuclear capable Iran than use military force. … We don’t believe in containing, letting them have it and trying to contain them because we believe their association with terrorism is too long and too deep. That’s too dangerous for Israel, too dangerous for us. Senator Paul to his credit was OK with that.
Senator Graham used an interesting method to excoriate Senator Paul with pleasant sounding words that pretty much says Paul’s stance is a danger to America and Israel since he is unconcerned about the repercussions of Iran having nuclear weapons. Notice how the discussion changes from the specific legality of drone use on Americans on American soil to national security. The GOP uses the bait and switch technique even on its own.
Senator Paul had the right question but was the wrong messenger. President Obama should not have allowed a Right Wing Libertarian kook to get to his left flank. It hurts the legitimate debate that should be had on drone use, collateral damage, and much more.