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Senator Rand Paul showed a great amount of courage when he filibustered John Brennan’s appointment for CIA director on the Senate floor yesterday, following the Obama administration’s refusal to answer whether or not it is constitutional for the government to kill U.S. citizens on U.S. soil with drones. The answer should be simple: no. It is a blatant violation of the Constitution and it stands against everything this country was founded on for the government to kill any citizen without a trial or due process.
This all began when Senator Paul repeatedly requested additional information from Attorney General Eric Holder concerning whether “the President has the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, and without trial.”
As expected, Eric Holder tap danced around the question in a letter to Senator Paul. He concluded that the government does have the right to kill U.S. citizens on U.S soil, but it is unlikely to occur. Isn't that reassuring? The government could kill you if they wanted to, but it probably won’t happen.
How did we get to this point? There is a serious debate going on in America on whether the government can pretty much just murder us at will, if they just suspect we are doing something wrong. Just let that sink in.
Shhhhh. Can you hear that? That’s the sound of the Founding Fathers rolling in their graves.
As Senator Paul mentioned on the Senate floor, the U.S. government killed 16-year-old U.S. citizen Abdulrahman al-Awlaki during a drone strike at an outdoor restaurant in Yemen with no due process. Abdulrahman al-Awlaki had a U.S. birth certificate and was born in Denver, Colorado in 1995. President Obama has never answered any questions concerning this drone strike that killed an American citizen.
Senator Paul started speaking just before noon on Wednesday. His opening statement showed extreme bravery and determination:
I will speak until I can no longer speak. I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court.
He stood alone on the Senate floor for about 3 hours. Finally, he was joined by a handful of courageous Senators: Sens. Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Pat Toomey, Saxby Chambliss, Ron Wyden, John Cornyn, Tim Scott, John Thune, John Barrasso, Mitch McConnell, Jeff Flake, Ron Johnson, and Jerry Moran. All of these senators deserve recognition for standing up for our constitutional rights, especially Democratic Senator Wyden who openly criticized Obama’s executive overreach on the Senate floor.
Senator Wyden proved that this isn’t a Republican vs. Democrat issue. It’s a freedom vs. tyranny issue. Believe it or not, Code Pink: Women for Peace and Demand Progress tweeted out a series of #StandWithRand tweets. It’s great to see self-described “left-wing” groups stand tall on civil liberties in the era of Obama.
Many left-wing groups and notable individuals rightfully criticized former President George W. Bush’s civil liberties abuses. But most of them have fallen silent on civil liberty issues, even though Obama has been much worse than George W. Bush in this regard. Obama signed the Patriot Act extension that allows the government to spy on citizens without warrants, he signed NDAA which allows for the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens without trial, and now his administration refuses to answer a question on whether the government can kill citizens with drones.
Rand Paul said it perfectly: “where is the Barack Obama of 2007?… Barack Obama of 2007 would be right down here with me arguing against this drone-strike program.”
Senator Obama would surely be disappointed by President Obama’s horrible civil liberties record.
Rand Paul stood on the Senate floor for almost 13 hours yesterday. Good for him. He made the #Constitution trend on Twitter nationwide yesterday.
Thank you Senator Paul.
Sign the We Stand With Rand petition here.