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Has Rand Paul Got it All Wrong?

Although he’s beginning to look tired and sound hoarse, at this hour Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is continuing his filibuster. My own overriding impulse all day his been simple: good for him.  He’s standing up for civil liberties in a way that involves no back room wheeling and dealing, but a powerful dose of determination, courage and sheer cussedness.  

But is Sen. Paul wrong on the underlying issue?

Richard Miniter insists that he is. A fine journalist and a frequent guest on Ricochet podcasts, Richard just put up this post on Facebook:

imgres-1.jpgRAND 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.

Well?

  1. Xennady

    As of my bedtime last night only a paltry few senators had joined Rand Paul in objecting to the evisceration of the Constitution.

    Why so few?

    And I know most of those senators gained their office by defeating an establishment backed candidate.

    So am I to expect that if Rand Paul or one of the others hadn’t been elected no senator would object to drone strikes in the US against American citizens?

    None at all?

    I find that amazing- and worrisome, to put it mildly.

    What else would they not object to, once that precedent had been set? AC-130 gunships? Laser guided bombs? Nuclear weapons?

    Lest I seem irrational I note the relentless bloody history of the left on the rest of planet Earth- and also just how hard and how long they’ve worked to disarm the American people here in the Unites States.

    Why is that, exactly? Just what are they itching to do once people can’t shoot back?

    I think I’ve seen that before- and I think that’s why the Bill of Rights was appended to the Constitution in the first place.

    Unfortunately most senators seem not to have read that document.

  2. flownover

    Peter

    We should have a live blog if this thing takes off. It is clearly an important moment in the scheme of things. Rather than pick apart the position, ala Miniter (who is usually spoton) but savor the moment.

  3. Byron Horatio

    I think Mr. Miniter is the one that has it wrong.  Senator Paul’s objection is to the idea of the president having the unilateral authority to use drones against Americans not actively engaging in hostilities against the United States.  As he has stated repeatedly, he is speaking about using drones against Americans who may speak against the government or propogandize for the enemy. 

  4. Paul A. Rahe
    C

    Richard Miniter is, of course, right. There are reasons to filibuster John Brennan’s nomination as there were to stop the nomination of Chuck Hagel. But this is a bit of demagoguery. I had hoped that Rand Paul would be an improvement upon his father, but I fear that he may be almost as bad. He voted for Chuck Hagel — which suggests that he is an isolationist on questions of national defense.

  5. Byron Horatio

    And additionally, whatever one thinks of the righteousness of the cause of the Southern rebellion or Whiskey rebellion, these were rebellions taking up arms against the United States or its authority.  There is no way that the Constitution could ever be twisted to allow for a no-trial execution of American citizens for even borderline-seditious speech or enemy sympathies sans armed rebellion. 

  6. Paul A. Rahe
    C
    Byron Horatio: I think Mr. Miniter is the one that has it wrong.  Senator Paul’s objection is to the idea of the president having the unilateral authority to use drones against Americans not actively engaging in hostilities against the United States.  As he has stated repeatedly, he is speaking about using drones against Americans who may speak against the government or propogandize for the enemy.  · 0 minutes ago

    Which is to say, he is engaging in the worst sort of scaremongering.

  7. Mike LaRoche

    Rather interesting how this is taking place on the 177th anniversary of the fall of the Alamo.

    “Victory or death!”

  8. Scott R

    Best I can tell, Paul isn’t insisting that drones couldn’t be used against a citizen on U.S. soil if that citizen is posing an immediate threat, but only if they’re used as they’ve been in Yemen, say — that is, offing some guy as he’s going about his daily business.

    Problem is, the Administration has now agreed with him, albeit reluctantly, as in this exchange between Cruz and Holder.

    So as much as this is good theater, I’m not entirely sure of the point.

  9. Mike LaRoche

    Moreover, I am heartened to see our very own Ted Cruz rally behind Paul’s banner.

    God bless Texas.

  10. Byron Horatio
    Paul A. Rahe

    Byron Horatio: I think Mr. Miniter is the one that has it wrong.  Senator Paul’s objection is to the idea of the president having the unilateral authority to use drones against Americans not actively engaging in hostilities against the United States.  As he has stated repeatedly, he is speaking about using drones against Americans who may speak against the government or propogandize for the enemy.  · 0 minutes ago

    Which is to say, he is engaging in the worst sort of scaremongering. · 1 minute ago

    I don’t see where the scaremongering is.  I find it legitimately frightening that the country’s top cop said with a straight face effectively that assassinating American citizens in the absence of trial in the continental United States is on the table.  Paul is not arguing to dismantle the drone program, but why is it so difficult for the administration to say or even lie and say, “Sure, we promise we’ll never use drones on citizens in the homeland.”

  11. Edward Smith

    Over on Politico, the comparison came up to Jane Fonda.

    Drop a bomb on her when she is in North Vietnam, fine.

    Drop a bomb on her when she is at home in LA?

  12. Byron Horatio

    Edward, Senator Paul asked that exact same question a few hours ago.

  13. Concretevol

    Judging from the current thread about the filibuster, folks are just happy to find a US Senator who will stand up to the administration on anything at all.  Brennon’s nomination is just an opportunity,  not the issue.  

  14. Sabrdance

    Miniter does not persuade me on this particular point.  The Confederates and the Whiskey Rebels were in open rebellion.

    I need to be persuaded that Americans plotting terror attacks in the US actually qualify as rebels rather than as criminals.  It has been more than a decade since 9/11, and I’m growing increasingle uncomfortable with a war without end.  I am especially uncomfortable if it the war extends to people here in the US.

    This is not to say I am entirely opposed to the use of drones, or that some Americans who join terror organizations should not be considered military targets.

    Only to say that I need more than the assertion “rebels that can be shot on sight” as a general rule.

     

    On the matter of Rand Paul -don’t always, not even sure if I usually, agree with him.  But I admire his tenacity.  When was the last time we had an actual filibuster rather than this stupid party tracking system we use now?  Would anyone in the Senate do this other than Rand Paul?

    You wanted Mr. Smith to go to Washington: I give you Mr. Smith -the Junior Member from Kentucky.

  15. C. U. Douglas

     

    Concretevol: Judging from the current thread about the filibuster, folks are just happy to find a US Senator who will stand up to the administration on anything at all.  Brennon’s nomination is just an opportunity,  not the issue.   · 0 minutes ago

    There seems to be a bit of that, and even I can admit to it.

    I’m still a bit concerned about the disconnect between this and Hagel.  Why was Hagel standard operating procedure but Brennan worthy of filibuster?  Obviously he can’t answer now, but I’d like to know what Sen. Paul has to say about that.

  16. Edward Smith

    This is a bit of grandstanding.

    But Obama encourages it by not deigning to deal with the riff raff, and encouraging his staff and appointees to do the same.

    Even Augustus Caesar showed enough respect for the emasculated Senate to go there from time to time and confer with them.

    In Rand Paul and Ted Cruz we see a Senate that is weakened, but not quite completely emasculated.

    You want to  move past this kind of nonsense?

    That’s what 2014 is for.

  17. Dave Roy

    I don’t think this is scare-mongering at all. It’s not that we think that Obama is planning on implementing a drone program where he kills somebody who “may” be plotting against the US without any sort of due process.

    The issue is that Obama won’t say that he doesn’t have the power to do it. This smacks of total ignorance of the Constitution and should be highlights as much as possible.

    Sure, I doubt Obama would ever do send a drone out like this. But once you get people who won’t say that it’s impossible, who knows what the next person will be like?

  18. Sabrdance

    “We should not be asking the Administration how they are going to run the drone program, we should be telling them how to run the drone program.”

    And that is why I like Rand Paul.  I’m much more comfortable with the President conducting a war when someone in the Congress isn’t rolling over and playing dead.

  19. Stuart Creque

    Is it proper for a police officer to shoot a suspect who is not armed or resisting arrest?

    We empower police officers to use deadly force to arrest criminal suspects, either with the authority of a warrant or due to probable cause to believe that the suspect is engaged in criminal activity, so long as the suspect presents a danger to the officer.  But if the suspect is sitting on his couch at home counting his loot and doesn’t have his guns handy, we expect the officer to arrest and not execute the suspect.

    Even in the Civil War, if a Union patrol came upon a group of Confederate soldiers who were resting, we would expect the Union soldiers to take the Confederates prisoner rather than gun them down.

    The issue isn’t whether deadly force can be used to counter deadly force or deadly threat.  The issue is whether the Federal government is permitted to order the assassination of an American citizen whose past expressions, affiliations and behavior — not his immediate, at-the-present-moment behavior — shows him to be an enemy of the state.

  20. Skyler

    Wow.  Just wow.  There are reasons the President should be killing US citizens because Lincoln did?  Unbelievable.

    We are not at war.  And just because Lincoln imprisoned political enemies and the entire Maryland Legislature, and just because FDR put Americans in concentration camps doesn’t mean we should allow it.

    Presidents do desperate and outlandish things in the name of national security sometimes.  Maybe it was okay to jail the Maryland legislature.  But I’d rather the President be acting contrary to the law and seek forgiveness than to say such actions are allowed.  No.  No way should this be allowed.  

    If we allow this, then the President is more likely to abuse it and not be required to face the consequences, no matter how horrendous his judgment was.