Rand Paul’s liberty loving filibuster

March 7, 2013

By Katy Grimes


If you love liberty, you were probably among the millions of Americans watching U.S. Senator Rand Paul yesterday on the floor of the U.S. Senate, and are cheering today.

Kentucky Sen. Paul dedicated 13 hours of his day to do a good, old fashioned filibuster, over one of the most important issues in America right now – whether the President of the United States can order drone strikes on the American people.

“In his filibuster Wednesday, Paul criticized the White House over its drone policies, and for refusing to rule out military strikes against U.S. citizens on American soil,” the Business Insider reported.

Paul says to allow the President to order drone strikes on American on U.S. soil is a flagrant violation of the U.S. Constitution. “When I asked the president, can you kill an American on American soil, it should have been an easy answer. It’s an easy question. It should have been a resounding an unequivocal, ‘No,'” Paul said. “The president’s response? He hasn’t killed anyone yet. We’re supposed to be comforted by that,” the Business Insider reported.

Nearly as appalling were the two senior Senate Republicans who attacked Paul during his filibuster.

Big government Republicans vs. liberty loving Republicans

Senator John McCain from Arizona, who went out to dinner last night with President Obama, argued that Paul was violating Senate rules with his filibuster, as if Senate rules are more important than the rights of American citizens.

Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina, also at dinner with President Obama, told Paul what he was doing is a waste of time, and maybe even harmful.

Paul’s filibuster lasted 13 hours, and was very well-spent, because nearly every media outlet in the country weighed in on it. And this issue seems to be of bipartisan interest.

Post filibuster interview

This morning, national radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh interviewed Senator Paul.

Here is some of the transcript:

RUSH: When did you decide, Senator, that you wanted to make this a filibuster? Did it just happen spontaneously or did you have a plan for it?

PAUL:  You know, I think we’ve struck a nerve, and there is a little bit of a difference within the Republican caucus and a growing sort of division on some of these issues.  Their side believes that the battlefield is everywhere.  And this is what John Brennan believes here.  He says there’s no geographic limitation to the battlefield.  And that means that if the battlefield is America also, then the people, you know, like Senator McCain and Graham, they believe that the laws of war apply.  The problem is that the laws of war don’t involve due process.  And I understand when you’re in war, you don’t get due process.  So in the battlefield you don’t ask your opponent, you know, for Miranda rights, you don’t present them with warrants.  You shoot your opponent.

RUSH:  Yet.

PAUL:  That’s a different sphere than America.  That’s why the military operates overseas and the police operate here.  We have different sets of rules.  I don’t want to believe that we’re gonna have to live in America as a battlefield because I know these young men and women.  When they go over they’re fighting for the Bill of Rights, they tell me so and I believe so, and I know that’s why we’ve sent them.  They’re fighting for the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, but if we give up and say, oh, we’re gonna have the law of war, the law of war doesn’t include the Bill of Rights.

RUSH:  Senator Graham said that your filibuster has convinced him to vote to confirm Brennan.

PAUL:  Hmm.  Well, he misses the point.  This has never been about Brennan.  This is about the president and whether or not he will respond to the request I’ve made.  And the request is very simple:  Can you kill Americans not engaged in combat in America with a drone strike.  And I think the answer’s gotta be an unequivocal “no.”  Brennan may win over my objections but I’m gonna ask this question of the president. I’m gonna keep asking ’til we get an answer.  We’ve asked them this morning. We’ve talked with the White House this morning. Other Republicans are calling the White House, so I’m having assistance with other members of my caucus who want the answer, too.  I think we will get an answer.

RUSH:  Let me give you a real world example.  We have, and it’s been criticized by some, we have killed an American with a drone strike, an admitted, acknowledged terrorist.  His name was Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen.  Now, let’s play hypothetical, Senator. Let’s put him in an American cafe, but everything else about him we know. We know he’s a terrorist. We know he’s acknowledged it. We know that he was involved in the USS Cole, whatever terrorist activity.  Let’s put him in Chicago and he’s at an outdoor cafe in the summer waiting to go to a Cubs game.  Is the administration asking for the right to drone him, to kill him with a drone on American soil if he’s in that circumstance?

PAUL:  You know, Senator Cruz addressed this last night, is that if he’s in America and he doesn’t have a weapon or grenade launcher on his shoulder, obviously we’d arrest him.  Senator Chambliss also made the point that that’s how we’ll get information, is by arresting people.  And, if they don’t have a weapon, why in the world would we want to kill ’em first?  We’d get no information.  Some of that argument’s been made overseas, but particularly in this country when you’re unarmed and the police can arrest you, why would we not arrest you?  So even when someone’s clearly guilty, if we can arrest ’em, it’s preferable for intelligence reasons.  If they’ve got a grenade launcher on their shoulder, any kind of lethal force can be used against them.  If they’re flying planes into our buildings, F-16s, bombs, rockets, any way we can stop people from attacking us, we use.

RUSH:  Right.  But al-Awlaki was not doing any of that when we killed him in Yemen.

PAUL:  Yeah, there’s a debate overseas how you ought to do it as well because is there a difference for American citizens than foreigners?  My argument — not everybody agrees on this.  We’re all agreed, I think, or many of us on American citizens on American soil.  Overseas, my preference with al-Awlaki would be to have a fairly expeditious trial for treason. Not one with multiple appeals. One at the highest court level and then I would do the drone strike after convicting him of treason.  There aren’t very many of these people, so this isn’t something we’re gonna go through every week.

The problem is, and this is where I really find the president’s men reprehensible, is that when Awlaki’s son is killed in a separate strike later, two weeks, we think it’s a signature strike. They won’t tell us all these things, but a signature strike is where you just knock out a caravan. You don’t know who all’s in it. You just think they’re bad people coming from a place where bad people are gathered.  And when he was killed there, the president’s man responded, and they said do you feel bad about killing the 16-year-old, are you gonna say was he a target or was he an accident, he said, “Well, he should have chosen a more responsible father.”  And so my question yesterday was, is that the standard we’re gonna take in America?  If you’re related to bad people are you allowed to be killed with a drone strike?  You know, so the standards overseas, there is maybe some question about those standards, but for goodness’ sakes, we can’t have a standard in America that if you’re related to someone who’s committed evil or someone who is bad, that you are now eligible for a drone strike.

Be sure to take a look at The 10 Best Lines From Rand Paul’s Epic Filibuster

My favorite – On the ambiguous criteria for drone targets:

“Are you going to just drop a drone hellfire missile on Jane Fonda? Are you going to drop a missile on Kent State?”


“If we believe [Obama] to be a good man who would never kill noncombatants in a cafe in Houston, sitting out in a sidewalk cafe, smoking — oh, that’s right you’re not allowed to smoke cigarettes anymore.”

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