Ed Driscoll

The Pros and Cons of Rand Paul's Filibuster

Regarding Rand Paul’s filibuster of proposed CIA head John Brennan, and how Mr. Obama or a surrogate such as Jay Carney will respond, John Sexton writes:

I agree that it’s unlikely the President or Carney will come out and announce a new position. That would be an admission of failure, a show of weakness. However there is another move that seems more likely.

Tomorrow when Carney is asked he can claim that this is much ado about nothing because of course the President would never use drones on Americans inside the US. Who would ever suggest such a thing? That way they give a response but the tone says move along, nothing to see here. They’ll claim the President is a champion of civil rights and that these questions are misguided and maybe even offensive.

The needed follow-up question is the one I posted on Twitter earlier: Would the criteria for targeting Awlawki have applied to Bill Ayers 40 yrs ago? Why not?

Heh, indeed.™

Update: At Commentary, Jonathan S. Tobin writes, “Paul’s Real Beef Isn’t Domestic Drones:”

…anyone who heard all or most of his several hours of talk on the subject heard a great deal that shows he thinks the “perpetual war” against the Islamists is the real problem.

The unfortunate fact is that Americans will have to continue fighting al-Qaeda. This is not because our leaders lust for war or are enraptured with drone technology, but because our enemies believe they are engaged in war that will go on for generations until we succumb. Winning that struggle will require patience and endurance as well as the will to seek out these enemies wherever they may be plotting. Targeted killings of these terrorists are necessary and effective. But Paul’s core critique of the administration is not about a theoretical drone attack in the United States but about this very tactic.

Those who worry about Barack Obama’s fast and loose approach to the Constitution do well to keep close tabs on what the government is up to. But the president’s drone use against al-Qaeda is both constitutional and necessary. Conflating this policy with a plan to kill American dissidents or non-combatants sleeping in their beds here is merely a tactic aimed at transforming the debate about drones in a way that will make the curtailment of foreign strikes possible.

We can all take pride in the willingness of members of the U.S. Senate to stand up for the Bill of Rights and against the unchecked expansion of government power. But today’s filibuster is rooted in Paul’s unhappiness with American counter-terrorism tactics abroad, not those that have never been used at home.

Similarly, PJM alumnus Rich Miniter posits the following on his Facebook page:

RAND PAUL’S STAND against John Brennan’s nomination as CIA director is doing the right thing for the wrong reason. Brennan has a reputation inside the intelligence community for “failing upward” and would likely not be a stellar DCI. But Sen. Paul’s objection-that Obama might use drones to kill Americans on U.S. soil–is actually dangerous. In reality, you want the president to be able to kill Americans who are attacking civilians without a court order. Does any body really think that Lincoln have gotten a warrant every time the confederates took a shot at federal property. Should George Washington have had to get a judge’s approval to fire on the rebels in the 1794 Whiskey Rebellion? When people take up arms against our country, they are making war on us–not engaging in criminal activity. If Sen. Paul’s prevails, they will have all of the protections of criminal law–and the public will have none of the protections of military force. Hardly a good bargain.

As Peter Robinson asks at Ricochet, linking to Rich’s post, “Has Rand Paul Got it All Wrong?”

Update: “In the midnight hour: GOP Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell decides to #StandWithRand.”

Update (9:42 PM PST): Almost 13 hours later, it’s over. We’ll have more on the fallout tomorrow. In the meantime, as the Professor dubs it, the Tweet of the Day:

Update (10:09 PST): Bridget Johnson has a lengthy recap of Paul’s filibuster on the PJM homepage: “Paul Injects Life Into Party with Nearly 13-Hour Filibuster.”

Update (10:18 PST): Blogger SooperMexican presents helpful tips on surviving a domestic done strike:

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