Explain to Me Why Rand Paul Isn’t A Showboating Drama Queen?

So, news of Rand Paul’s filibuster has been seeping into my consciousness. What I’ve heard is that he is conducting a real filibuster – all talk, all the time. Good on that. I’ve also heard that he’s protesting that the Obama administration is claiming the authority to kill citizens. OMFG! But, I actually clicked through to Holder’s letter to Paul which said:

On February 20, 2013, you wrote John Brennan requesting additional information concerning the administration’s view about whether the President has the power to authorize lethal force such as a drone strike against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil without trial.

As members of this Administration have previously indicated, 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. We have a long history of using the criminal justice system to incapacitate individuals located in our country who pose a threat to the United States and its interests abroad. Hundreds of individuals have been arrested and convicted of terrorism-related offenses in our federal courts.

“The question you have posed is therefore entirely hypothetical, unlikely to occur, and one we hope no President will ever have to confront. It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate 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.

Were such an emergency to arise, I would examine the particular facts and circumstances before advising the President on the scope of his authority.

That’s the response that has him all worked up over an out of control government?

I’m all for Congress imposing more structural restraints on the war powers of the executive branch; for beefing up the due process rights of U.S. citizens; and improving the transparency of the federal government.  Close Guantanamo, get rid of the mass wiretapping by the NSA, repeal the USA PATRIOT act. Legislate against existing, real world abuses.

But I’m baffled by a mindset that sees that mild response to a hypothetical scenario as a sign of impending tyranny when other, more routine abuses, actually exist and could stand legislative attention.

Comments

  1. Don Sherfick says

    The issue that’s the subject of Paul’s filibuster is certainly worth debating, although I would tend to agree about the “grandstanding” elements. So far as “hypothetical situations” go, I seem to remember some about the legality/morality of torture/waterboarding that involved a “ticking time bomb” situation. A number of shoes in that debate seem to be on the other foot this time around.

  2. says

    Assuming that Holder answered in one clear declarative sentence, what would it prove? I understand why Republicans want to forget George W. Bush ever existed, but there’s a textbook case of the Executive being a law unto itself once it declares an emergency, innit? Such a statement would be rendered inoperative the moment it was rendered inconvenient.

  3. sjudge says

    Drones are machines that are capable of doing XYZ things, all of which are certainly capable of being done, and are currently being done by other machines, and by actual people. If we could send Fred, carrying a machine, to fire at Ralph, then logically, we could also give Fred a joystick with which to fire something at Ralph. Perhaps we ought to explore the question of under what circumstances we can send Fred out to fire something at Ralph in the first place, but focusing on the specific machine simply exploits the Henry Adamsish idea that it’s a new machine that’s not very fixed in our psyche yet. The simplest response, and I think we’ll come to it in the end, is to place the firing of things under the Dept. of Defense, and the non-military ‘taking of pictures of things” under the CIA.

  4. says

    At Balloon-Juice, mrmix makes an astute observation:

    Paul chose to filibuster the nomination of the head of the CIA, even though he stated repeatedly that his concern was the killing of Americans on American soil (read that story linked above, or this one, because that was really his only concern). Would the CIA do that? Maybe, but even if you grant that the fantasy that the CIA would kill Americans on American soil (versus the reality of them having killed Americans overseas), the place to protest that is when the defense and intelligence appropriation bills come to the floor. At that point, Paul could filibuster until an amendment was added to the bill to compel the Administration to release more information on drone killings, at a minimum, or to require specific authorizations of force before drones are used in any foreign country, or any number of other limitations that tied drone use and disclosure to funding. But that would be possibly effective and certainly risky to Paul’s electoral future, so instead he filibustered Brennan, an act that even Mitch McConnell briefly joined, simply because it was of a piece with the rest of the sand that McConnell likes to throw in the Senate’s gears. If Paul would threaten the drone program in a way that could actually change the drone program, then shit would get real on the Senate floor very quickly.

  5. Eugene says

    The question is whether the government can kill people without due process. Mr Obama and Mr Holder claim the US government can kill people, on US soil, without due process – i.e., no judiciary involvement or oversight.

    Stop being a pantywaist liberal Obama backer for a moment, and think about the impact of that policy.

    • says

      Quit wetting your pants over boogeymen. There are real problems that should be addressed.

      Of course there are situations where the federal government can use lethal force against U.S. citizens without a trial. Let’s say a guy is pointing a gun at the President. Are you saying that the Secret Service couldn’t shoot the guy without having a trial first?

      You think President Lincoln arraigned and tried every Confederate committing treason against the United States before a U.S. soldier put a bullet in their head?

    • Carlito Brigante says

      The hypothetical that Rand baited Brennan and Holder with received an adequate response. In the response to the hypothetical, the answere presuposses a situation where lawful civil authority would not exist and martial law could and probably would be declared.

      The question you have posed is therefore entirely hypothetical, unlikely to occur, and one we hope no President will ever have to confront. It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate 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.

      Were such an emergency to arise, I would examine the particular facts and circumstances before advising the President on the scope of his authority

  6. Carlito Brigante says

    I teach online healthlaw classes. There is a common saying in the healthcare workplace and the classroom, “save your drama for your lama.”

    Perhaps Paul should just save his drama for Obama.

    • says

      One of my favorite kid’s books to read (mostly when the kids were couple of years younger) was Llama Llama Red Pajama. That book also spoke of llama drama.

  7. Carlito Brigante says

    http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/03/07/1684111/rand-paul-all-laws-protecting-workers-are-constitutionally-suspect/

    This defies credulity. Paul calls the Lochner case a “wonderful decision.”

    Nevertheless, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) took several minutes out of his lengthy talking filibuster yesterday to praise this “abomination” of a decision on the Senate floor:

    You get to the Lochner case. The Lochner case is in 1905. The majority rules 5-4 that the right to make a contract is part of your due process. Someone cannot deprive you of determining how long your working hours are without due process. So President Obama’s a big opponent to this, but I would ask him — among the other things I’m asking him today — to rethink the Lochner case. . . . I think it’s a wonderful decision.

    Paul must not have gotten the memo that Locher was overruled and Lochner is right up there with Dred Scott and the Japanese Confinement cases in WWII as a discredited case.

    How on earth can people so clueless about law (and most everything else) get elected?

  8. David says

    What I like to imagine Paul’s foreign affairs/ defense legislative assistant saying after reading the Attorney General’s response:

    “So…..what your saying is that there’s a chance….?”

    Moreover, if – in the most infinite of remote chances – there was a “terrorist” within the Borders of the United States, CIA would not be in charge of that investigation. CIA is in charge of investigations internationally. NSA is internal (see patriot act conspiracy blogs) with FBI backup. Further, due to Supreme Court precedent, these individuals wouldn’t be allowed to have the protections of the Constitution – see Ex Parte Quirin. So exactly what is the Senator from KY railing out? Who knows, but isn’t it nice to see an actual filibuster rather than the secret blue notes passed behind closed doors?

      • David says

        Yep. If Sen. Reid would ever show some of that supposed backbone he has when he goes back to Nevada and shoots clay shots with his 12 gauge, he’d pull the trigger and force the minority to actually filibuster rather than agree to 60 vote thresholds for cloture ON EVERYTHING.

        But what do I know?

  9. Carlitop Brigante says

    I see that Rubio, the Republican’s non-fair haired, “fair-haired buy,” had to chime in on the filibuster.

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