Rand Paul filibusters CIA nominee Brennan on drones

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul launched a filibuster Wednesday against President Obama’s CIA nominee John Brennan as a way to highlight extrajudicial killings and the potential use of drones in the United States.

“I won’t be able to speak forever, but I’m going to speak as long as I can,” Paul said as he began an old-fashioned talking filibuster. The senator is delaying a vote on Brennan’s nomination.

“When we ask the president ‘Can you kill Americans on American soil with drone strikes?’ it should be an easy answer,” he continued.

Paul has been pressing the Obama administration on whether the president has the power to order the execution or assassination of Americans without due process, particularly using drones. Attorney General Eric Holder replied Tuesday that only an “extraordinary circumstance” like Pearl Harbor or Sept. 11 could conceivably justify such moves.

While Holder said the Obama administration had no intention of launching drone strikes in the United States, Paul was dismayed the attorney general did not swear them off as illegal and unconstitutional. Paul has made drones the centerpiece of his opposition to Brennan.

“We have many on my side who tell you that the battlefield’s in America,” Paul said of his fellow Republicans. “Be alarmed when people say the battlefield’s in America.”

“I think that some of the drone strikes have probably been justified,” Paul argued. “Al-Awlaki was a traitor.”

Paul contended checks and balances were necessary, raising the extrajudicial killing of Al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son Abdulrahman Awlaki in Yemen.

Michigan Republican Rep. Justin Amash tweeted thanks to Paul, writing, “We support your filibuster of Brennan’s’ confirmation to CIA.”

Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders recently launched an 8 1/2 hour talking filibuster. Longtime South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond, then a Democrat, holds the record for the longest filibuster when he spoke against a 1957 civil rights bill for 24 hours and 18 minutes.

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