Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has long been a critic of the Obama adminstration’s drone strike policy. He had threatened to filibuster the nomination of John Brennan as CIA director, who played a key role in the development of the drone program.
In an impressive feat, Sen. Paul filibustered for nearly 13 hours, never once straying off topic. One of the most powerful moments of the day came when Senator Paul asked “Where is the Barack Obama of 2007?”, referring to the harsh criticism then-Senator Obama had for the Bush administration’s violations of civil liberties. The White House declined to comment, and their continued silence speaks volumes.
Although the filibuster was largely symbolic, as John Brennan will likely be appointed later today, Sen. Paul accomplished something extraordinary by finally shedding light on a very troubling issue.
The following Senators joined Sen. Paul on the floor to support his criticism of the drone program:
Mike Lee (R-UT)
Ted Cruz (R-TX)
Ron Wyden (D-OR)
Marco Rubio (R-FL)
John Barrasso (R-WY)
John Thune (R-SD)
Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
Jerry Moran (R-KS)
Pat Toomey (R-PA)
Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
Ron Johnson (R-WI)
Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
Tim Scott (R-SC)
It should be noted that Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) attempted to stop the filibuster by needlessly asking if Senator Paul thought Osama Bin Laden would not warrant a drone strike against him.
Sen. Durbin either does not realize Osama Bin Laden was not a U.S. citizen, or was not listening to the first ten hours of the filibuster, in which Sen. Paul and others repeatedly requested that the Obama administration formally state that it is unconstitutional to attack a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil.
In any case, a Democrat pointlessly invoked Osama Bin Laden while a Republican was concerned for civil liberties. Hell has officially frozen over.
Outside of the Senate, the filibuster received praise from individuals and groups from all across the political spectrum:
Jon Stewart, host, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Van Jones, civil rights activist & former White House Special Advisor for Green
The American Civil Liberties Union, activist group
Code Pink, anti-war activist group
Piers Morgan, host, Piers Morgan Live
Justin Amash, Congressman (R-MI)
The Heritage Foundation, conservative think tank organization
Cenk Ugyur, Current TV host
John Cusack, actor
Kirsten Powers, contributor, Daily Beast & Fox News
Grover Norquist, founder, Americans for Tax Reform
Reince Preibus, RNC Chairman
Judge Andrew Napolitano, former NJ Superior Court Judge, Fox News
Glenn Greenwald, blogger, The Guardian
Gary Johnson, former New Mexico governor & 2012 Libertarian Presidential
Conor Friedersdorf, blogger, The Atlantic
The American people also seemed to largely support the reason for the filibuster. Ted Cruz took the floor to read tweets supporting Sen. Paul, and described it as “The Twitterverse...blowing up.” In fact, #StandWithRand was one of the top trending topics on Twitter for nearly the entire course of the filibuster.
Senator Paul deserves many thanks for standing up for the constitution. It is a sad day in the history of our country when our leader is a former constitutional law professor who cannot do the same.