He may not be Mr. Smith but Senator Rand Paul did exactly what I like to see Senators do, he executed
“The question you have posed is therefore entirely hypothetical, unlikely to occur, and onewe hope no President will ever have to confront. It is possible, I suppose, to imagine anextraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States. For example, the President could conceivably have no choice but to authorize the military to use such force if necessary to protect the homeland in the circumstances of a catastrophic attack like the ones suffered on December 7, 1941, and September 11, 2001.”
The emphasis inserted is mine but while I think the administration is not planning any attacks on Americans who are in America, the answer he was looking for was “No.” What he got was a longer letter explaining that, if I am reading this right, looks like it was “We don’t want to do that but we don’t want to take anything off the table.” As a liberal Democrat, I am not often in the position of supporting senators like Paul but I 1. love that he did a full on real filibuster and 2. I agree with his position on this — there is no circumstance that would justify using a drone against a US citizen within the US, we have too many other resources.
“Paul has since been joined in his symbolic effort by Republican Sens. Mike Lee (Utah), Ted Cruz (Tex.), Jerry Moran (Kan.), Marco Rubio (Fla.), Saxby Chambliss (Ga.) and Pat Toomey (Pa.). He has also gotten some bipartisan support from Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.). Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) brought Paul an apple and a thermos of tea — a possible reference to the film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, in which Jimmy Stewart brings out similar provisions.”
Now there were some who said Senator Paul was doing this to play to his base and to people who support his father, Congressman Ron Paul. That he is laying the groundwork for his 2016 presidential campaign, and there is some truth to that. To think otherwise would be naive but that doesn’t make his effort meaningless. Yes, John Brennan will be confirmed to be the head of the CIA. Yes, this was a losing battle. (Didn’t Mr. Smith say “The only battles worth fighting are the losing ones?” — paraphrase, I am not sure what the exact wording is.) He won’t win this but he did bring attention to this and that is a good thing.
My proudest moment of my career was when I was the communications director for Congressman Joe Sestak (D-PA). The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was up for reauthorization. The legislative director (LD) and I disagreed on how he should vote, the LD thought he had to vote for it to look patriotic. I thought it was (and is) bad for the country and that Joe’s 32 years in the Navy was proof enough of his patriotism. We weren’t sure how he would vote and I wrote press releases for both. He was on the floor and I texted him “Those who would give up liberty for security deserve neither,” Benkamin Franklin. He said that during his “one minute” (they give representatives these “one minute” speech times on the floor) and I have never felt more part of our government. He voted “no.” We lost the fight, FISA was reauthorized but when I went home that night, I felt like I fought the good fight and did everything I could.
Thank you Senator Paul, I don’t say that often but I really mean it.
Addition: If you think my opinion on things like the filibuster is new, please read this.
Update: Bob Cesca posted this. (Thank you.) Basically, Eric Holder wrote Senator Paul another letter in which he said:
“It has come to my attention 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.”
That response satisfies me. (Apparently, Paul is also satisfied with that answer but I suspect he may change his mind.) I still appreciate the old school filibuster. Especially when too often Senators use less visible tactics, like the one being used to block judicial nominees such as the “silent filibuster” where one senator can block a nomination anonymously.