As you may have noticed, Rand Paul has attracted a lot of attention recently; some inexplicably negative. There were attacks on the Senate floor, arrows slung on Twitter, poorly written articles full of hyperbole by people who missed the point, etc. I find it increasingly frustrating that people who should know better; don’t. I’m not about to speak on behalf of Rand Paul, nor am I authorized too, but I won’t sit idly by and watch people either lie about or distort the obvious purpose of his filibuster either.
I’m usually a fan of Breitbart news, and considered Andrew Breitbart an honorable conservative hero—he is sorely missed. But Aaron Goldenberg at Breitbert.com wrote this article, which is a good illustration of the ignorance on Rand Paul’s filibuster. I don’t know anything about Aaron, and don’t mean to attack him personally, but based on his article, the point of Paul’s actions was completely lost on him, as well as senators McCain and Graham, and a portion of the populace as well. While Aaron’s article is factual in that if the president wanted to kill you, he has many means at his disposal besides drones; that’s not, nor ever was the issue.
Addressing the hyperbole; he talks about the fact that Fox News and Rush Limbaugh haven’t been bombed as proof that Obama has no intention of using drone strikes on American soil. While the president certainly doesn’t like those people, they are not considered terrorists, even by White House standards. We don’t have satellites that can read a newspaper from space either. Giving Aaron the benefit of the doubt, I believe he was being facetious and comedic, but such hyperbole distracts from the truth, and isn’t proper journalism. I’m an amateur blogger who just spouts off, but Breitbart.com; while openly conservative, is a proper investigative news site—they should maintain higher journalistic standards than such ridiculous hyperbole.
Here some important facts:
- Anwar al-Aulaqi was the first American to be targeted for assassination without due process (that we know of) and was obliterated by a US air strike on Sept 30, 2011. While I agree he was a bad man with intentions of doing bad things to America, and I am glad he’s dead; he was not killed on a battlefield, nor executed as a result of a judicial sentence. We determined, without due process, that he should be killed, and carried out that objective—creating a precedent doing so. Rand Paul was absolutely right to ask what would have stopped us from potentially doing the same to Jane Fonda during Vietnam.
- Anwar’s son Abdulrahman al-Aulaqi was an American killed in October 14th 2011 by a US drone strike as well without due process, although he was officially not identified as the target for that attack.
- These are real American’s who were really killed by real drone strikes which set a real precedent. Nothing theoretical there.
- Based on this information, Rand Paul wrote letters to the nominee for the CIA John Brennan, starting in January which can be seen here, here, and here, asking if they believed they could legally target American’s on American soil. They already set one precedent, it was fair to assume that could potentially be the next logical step.
- The White House was largely quiet at first, but as CNN reported, “In a letter to Paul dated on Monday, Holder said it was possible, ‘I suppose,’ to imagine an ‘extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate’ under U.S. law for the president to authorize the military to ‘use lethal force’ within the United States.”
Detractors of Rand Paul’s filibuster have insinuated that Rand Paul is either accusing Obama of planning on such a hit, or at least wanting to do it in the future. However, that is not the case. Prior to Obama, the thought of killing an American without due process seemed ludicrous, yet it happened to the Al-Aulaqis.
Rand’s question was a general one, but let’s use an example. If Al-Aulaqi lived in a remote cabin somewhere in the Midwest, and the CIA and/or FBI were afraid that the land might be full of booby traps making it dangerous to execute an arrest, would the administration believe they have the right to use a drone strike to take him out without him having being tried (even in absentia), convicted, and sentenced first?
Again, I do not want to speak on behalf of Senator Paul, but whether the plane was piloted or not isn’t the issue. It just so happens that drones have recently begun operating within our borders, and it begged the question why. But, the issue was about killing Americans without due process, drone strikes merely served as the example.
Let me illustrate this with a hypothetical question. Imagine we were at a dinner party and I asked, “Can you envision a time when it would be OK to have sex with a ten-year-old?” Unless you’re someone required to notify people you are now living in their area, you would immediately and emphatically say “no.” It’s a blatantly offensive proposition that most humans would not have to consider before answering.
To people like Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, democrats like Ron Wyden, liberal commentator Bob Beckel, and many others (me included) it wasn’t a partisan issue, and it should have garnered an immediate and emphatic “No” as well—which it didn’t. Obama, Holder, and Brennan showed clear signs that they felt such an option should be on the table in extreme circumstances.
At first, if I was being kind to the Obama administration, they are lawyers. Lawyers love to leave themselves “outs” and rarely like stating something for the record that might be used against them later. But, holder wrote the first response above indicating that while it was unlikely, he would not rule it out. Would that be your response to molesting a child? Would you say, “Well in extreme circumstances, maybe…”? Those of us who feel killing without due process as being similarly offensive to molesting a child for example, were rightfully concerned.
Aaron also went on to say the filibustering the nomination of John Brennan was irrelevant, but I called Rand Paul’s office; they sent three letters to the man asking him to respond, along with asking the president and Holder. So Rand killed two birds with one stone. He held up the nomination of a man who would be responsible for carrying out such a strike, while at the same time forcing Obama to respond, lest no work go through the senate for the indefinite future.
If you don’t agree that killing Americans without due process is that big of a deal as long as the president says they’re a “Bad guy,” then so be it; that’s your prerogative.
But to John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and anyone else who thought Rand Paul was wasting time, your position disgusts me. Rand Paul got two lawyers in high office to agree on their limit of power over We The People definitively and on the record. That’s a win!
This president has constantly tested his constitutional limits, and often shown his frustration with the Constitution holding him back. Thus, it was a legitimate question based on precedents set, the president’s history of action, and the fact that the proposition offered didn’t seem to bother him.
Rand Paul has nothing but praise coming from me for putting his foot down and forcing these people to acknowledge and respect the limits of power our forefathers put on them. Bravo to him for doing so. I #StandWithRand