Senator Rand Paul took to the floor of the Senate on Wednesday to filibuster John Brennan’s nomination to the position of CIA chief. He decided to engage in a “talking” filibuster because he believed Attorney General Eric Holder had not given a clear and unequivocal answer to the question of whether a US citizen suspected of terrorism, who posed no immediate threat, could be killed by a drone strike on US soil.
In the first hour, this author’s writing was cited:
PAUL: Kevin Gosztola who writes at FireDogLake, writes the mere fact that the President’s answer to this question, whether you can kill an American on American soil, that the President’s answer was yes is outrageous. However, it fits the framework for fighting a permanent global war on terrorism without any geographic limitations, which the present administration, President Obama’s administration has maintained that it has the authority to wage. What’s important here is that we’re talking about a war without geographic limitations, but we’re also talking about a war without temporal limitations. There is no limit, no limit in time to this war. When will this war end? It’s a war that has, I think, an infinite timeline. So if you’re going to suspend your rights, if there is going to be no geographic limits to killing, which really means we’re not at war in Afghanistan, we’re at war everywhere and everybody that pops up is called al-Qaida now, whether they have ever heard of al-Qaida or not, whether they have any communication with some kind of network of al-Qaida, everybody is al-Qaida, but there is a new war or an ongoing war everywhere in the world, there is no limitations.
What Paul read was from a post I had written the day before on a letter Holder sent to Paul “answering” his question as to whether it would be permissible for the president to authorize a drone strike on a US citizen on US soil. He received an answer that was not a clear “yes” or “no” but, when read, it was clear Holder had said there are cases where we could use a drone to target and kill a US citizen.
Paul continued to read from the post I had written. Later, in his filibuster, he read articles or posts from Guardian writer Glenn Greenwald, The Atlantic‘s Conor Friedersdorf, Wired’s Spencer Ackerman and Noah Schachtman, The Esquire‘s Charles Pierce, Council on Foreign Relations’ writer Micah Zenko and the Center for Constitutional Rights’ Vince Warren. He read from Greg Miller of The Washington Post‘s series on the development of a “disposition matrix” and a counterterror “playbook” for drones.
The citation of the work of journalists and writers led The Nation’s Jeremy Scahill, who has produced remarkable work on drones, to say on Twitter that Paul was demonstrating the “public service of journalism.”
There were parts of the filibuster where Paul, along with colleagues like Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, were going on about conservative, libertarian or free market ideas that seemed to have little to no connection to the issue of the president’s claimed authority to execute and kill people without charge or trial. During the final hours of the filibuster, it seemed Cruz was filibustering Rand Paul’s filibuster, as he spoke from the floor for at least an hour about Texas standing up to a world court and his adoration for Barry Goldwater. But, when Paul was referencing writers who have spent hours upon hours considering the implications of the Obama administration’s drone policy, the points he was making about the use of drones and why Americans should be concerned were cogent and clear.