Friday, March 8, 2013

Two Cheers For Rand Paul!

I say two cheers because I don’t think he deserves three.  I think he claimed victory too soon.  And I’ll explain why.

Two days ago, Senator Rand Paul stood up and led a filibuster in the Senate during the confirmation hearing of John Brennan, President Obama’s choice for CIA Director.  Senator Paul was intentionally delaying the hearing while seeking clarification from the President and the Attorney General concerning a topic that some people seem to think unimportant. 

I heard several people say that Senator Paul was wasting time; that he should be working on bigger problems in the country, such as the sequester and the fact that federal employees are going to be furloughed and other people in the country may lose their jobs because of the mandatory spending cuts.  And while I agree that job losses and furloughs aren’t a good thing and need to be addressed, the hearing Senator Paul was in had absolutely nothing to do with the sequester or the budget and, therefore, didn’t affect either of those in any way.

Senator Paul’s filibuster was a stand for the Constitution, for freedom, for the rule of law and for the people.  Senator Paul insisted on clarification from the White House concerning the use of drones here in America.  Several weeks ago, the Attorney General, Eric Holder, made public a statement that said the President has the authority to use drone strikes to kill Americans his administration deems to be engaged in terrorist activities or working directly with terrorists against our country, whether or not there is specific evidence and whether or not they are a direct threat to the United States. 

Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee several days ago, Mr. Holder said  that using lethal military force against an American in his home country would be legal and justified in an "extraordinary circumstance" comparable to the September 11 terrorist attacks.

"The president could conceivably have no choice but to authorize the military to use such force if necessary to protect the homeland," Mr. Holder said.

His statement was described as "more than frightening" by Senator Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, who had demanded to know the Obama administration's position on the subject.  "It is an affront to the constitutional due process rights of all Americans."

Senator Paul stood up for the people of the United States when he demanded that the President answer a specific question.  “Mr. President – are you saying you can use drone strikes to kill Americans here on American soil if they are not actively engaged in combat against the United States?”  He had already asked the question in the weeks prior to the hearing but received no answer from Mr. Holder.  So, by delaying the confirmation of Mr.  Brennan, Senator Paul forced the administration to come forward with a specific answer to the question.  And I commend him for it.  However, when Paul called it a “victory” I think he was a bit premature.

Mr. Holder said the answer to Paul’s specific question was “No.”  During the SJC hearing Mr. Holder assured that the President wouldn’t use drones against American citizens in America, but that he could if necessary.  I’m sorry but that doesn’t give me a lot of confidence.  Holder’s statement that “he wouldn’t do that” should be followed up with “You can trust me.  I’m from the government.”

Combine the possibility of drone strikes with the fact that the government has been buying and stockpiling weapons of war over the last six months and it gives one cause for alarm.  Very quietly, over a period of time, the Department of Homeland Security and various other agencies, from the Social Security Administration to the Department of the Interior, have purchased over 2 Billion rounds of ammunition, 7,000 assault rifles, and 2,700 armored vehicles.  These are weapons of war.  You know – the kind the President said he doesn’t want on our streets.  So what is he buying them for?  Some say the 2 billion rounds are for training purposes but since they’re hollow point rounds, that doesn’t fly.  No agency trains with hollow point rounds unless they’re outdated and need to be used up.

Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham chastised Senator Paul for this filibuster saying Paul was grandstanding.  “I find the question offensive,” Graham said Thursday on the Senate floor. “As much I disagree with President Obama and as much as I support past presidents, I do not believe that question deserves an answer.” Paul’s question, the South Carolina Republican said, “cheapens the debate.”  That’s one of the reasons I would urge Republicans in South Carolina to find a conservative candidate to run against Lindsay Graham.  His conservative values change with the situation.

Senator Paul – I give you credit for your stance against the Obama administration and for taking up the cause.  But don’t give up too soon.  Something fishy is going on with the administration these days.  Unlike you, I’m not satisfied that drone strikes in the US are off the table just because Eric Holder said so.  Keep up the good work but don’t stop asking for answers.  And thanks to Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and the others, including the lone Democrat, who helped you out.  

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