Cady Kuzmich, Columnist
Republican Senator Rand Paul, son of the famous Ron Paul, held the senate floor for nearly 13 hours last Wednesday. The Kentucky Senator’s filibuster finally ended when he was bested by his bladder. The situation intensified as Paul’s so-called supporters brought him water, candy bars, an apple and a thermos of green tea. Paul put up a good fight, however in the end the Senator was forced to call it quits and head to the nearest restroom.
“I’ve discovered that there are some limits to filibustering and I’m going to have to go take care of one of those in a few minutes here,” said Paul shortly before ending his nearly 13 hour talkathon.
The Senator’s filibuster to stall the appointment of John Brennan to head the CIA focused largely on the question of whether or not the President has the authority to order drone strikes against U.S. citizens on U.S. soil. Attorney General Eric Holder answered Paul’s question with a brief three line response, saying the White House had no intention of using drones on citizens within the country.
The Los Angeles Times quoted Paul as saying, “When the President responds that ‘I haven’t killed any Americans yet at home and that I don’t intend to do so, but I might,’ it’s incredibly alarming and really goes against his oath of office.”
The Senator, along with a handful of other Republicans that jumped into the ring to show support, avoided reading telephone books during the filibuster and stuck mostly to the topic of unmanned drone attacks. Sticking to the topic didn’t keep the Senators from trying to make things interesting during their 12 plus hour talkathon. The New York Times reported that Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida apparently quoted Wiz Khalifa and that “modern day poet by the name of Jay-Z.”
Paul’s stance gained support from libertarians and liberals alike, forming a rather strange alliance that illustrated the circular nature of the ideological spectrum. Democratic Senator Ron Wyder of Oregon showed his support for Paul’s filibuster, regardless of his support for Brennan, because he believed Paul raised important questions. So what is it exactly that would warrant using drones to kill an American citizen on U.S. soil? Several other lawmakers have called upon the President to clarify the broad legal justifications for use of drones since the Senator’s filibuster.
While the filibuster was never going to stop the appointment of Brennan, it brought the topic of drone strikes into the eye of the national media once again. As Paul raises the question of whether the President has the authority to use drone strikes against U.S. citizens on U.S. soil, I would like to raise some questions as well.
Why is it that U.S. citizens become outraged by the idea of drone attacks at home but silent when it comes to the reality of attacks that kill hundreds of innocent people abroad and what message does this send to the rest of the world? According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, there have been 365 U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan over the last nine years which have resulted in up to 3,500 deaths, 411 to 884 of which were civilians. Just under 200 of these deaths were children and over a thousand more have been injured. As our representatives drink tea and question whether or not the President might order drone strikes in the U.S., I’m willing to bet that the people actually affected by drone strikes are laughing at us in-between sobs.
Cady Kuzmich, Columnist