Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is staging an active filibuster of John Brennan’s nomination to be CIA director, a move prompted by Attorney General Eric Holder’s admission that it could be constitutional to carry out a drone strike on an American in the United States.
Paul said that all presidents must honor the Fifth Amendment. “No American should ever be killed in their house without warrant and some kind of aggressive behavior by them,” Paul said on the Senate floor. “To be bombed in your sleep? There’s nothing American about that . . . [Obama] says trust him because he hasn’t done it yet. He says he doesn’t intend to do so, but he might. Mr. President, that’s not good enough . . . so I’ve come here to speak for as long as I can to draw attention to something that I find to really be very disturbing.”
“I will not sit quietly and let him shred the Constitution,” Paul added.”No person will be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process,” he said, quoting the Fifth Amendment.
Holder wrote a letter to Paul this week acknowledging that the administration believes a drone strike on U.S. soil could be constitutional.
“It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary 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,” Holder wrote.
The Kentucky lawmaker conceded that terrorism presents a complicated national security issue.”There was a man named Awlaki,” Paul noted. “He was treasonous. I have no sympathy for his death. I still would have tried him in a federal court for treason and he could have been executed.”
But then he turned to Awlaki’s son, a 16-year-old born in Colorado who was killed in a drone strike while in Yemen. “Here’s the real problem: when the president’s spokesman was asked about Awlaki’s son, do you know what his response was?” Paul asked, referring to former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, who made the comment after leaving the White House. “He said he should have chosen a more responsible father.”
Paul cited the chaos of post-war Germany, which ultimately led to Adolf Hitler’s rise to power, to argue for the importance of Obama respecting the Fifth Amendment rather than undermining the rule of law, as Paul believes the drone program does.
“The point isn’t that anyone in our country is Hitler,” Paul said, repeating that he is not comparing anyone to Hitler. “But what I am saying that is in a democracy you could somehow elect someone who is very evil . . . When a democracy gets it wrong, you want the law to be in place.”