by Justin O Smith
In a fascinating and charismatic stand for Our U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights and Liberty for all Americans, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) demanded on March 6, 2013 that Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder specifically give clarification regarding the Obama administration’s policy on using unmanned armed aircraft (drones) overseas and on American soil. When Holder gave several ambiguous statements and circled any honest answer pertaining to provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act, enacted by Executive Order on 12-31-12, allowing the president to detain U.S. citizens indefinitely and to kill Americans who are deemed terrorists or “enemy combatants,” Senator Paul vowed to block the nomination of John Brennan to head the CIA until he received some satisfactory answers (Presidents have long used the word “privilege” in Article I Sec 9 as a tool to ignore habeas corpus). And thus ensued an amazing lesson in government and the U.S. Constitution, as Senator Paul delivered a thirteen hour filibuster!
Twelve other Republicans and one Democrat, Ron Wyden (Oregon) supported Paul during his 13 hour soliloquy, but the bulk of the Republican Party was notably and unfortunately missing in action during this intense, momentous and historic moment, which prompted Senator Paul’s observation, “If there were an ounce of courage in this body I would be joined by other senators… saying they will not tolerate this.” So, in stark contrast Senator Rand Paul struck a blow for all Americans and Liberty, as Republican-in-name-only Senator Lamar Alexander’s (R-TN) office would not divulge his whereabouts during the filibuster; and, RHINO Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), who had dinner with Obama and eleven others during the filibuster, gushed like a teenage girl over the attention they received, as they were groomed to once more betray their constituency and the American people regarding upcoming financial matters.
Senators Graham (R-SC) and McCain (R-AZ) suggested that Senator Paul was doing “a disservice to Americans by making them think that somehow they’re in danger from their government.” As McCain added, “They’re not. But we are in danger from a dedicated longstanding, easily replaceable-leadership enemy that is hell bent on our destruction,” I thought that statement was fairly applicable to Obama and the Progressive Democrats as much as it was to Al Qaeda.
Remember that Holder has been undermining the U.S. legal system for a long time. The Holder Justice Department has prosecuted U.S. agents unfairly due to previously approved methods of interrogating terrorists, who have no standing under the U.S. Constitution (parallels “piracy”) or the Geneva Convention. Holder himself has represented Al Qaeda terrorists pro bono during his time with the law firm of Covington and Burling. He has unconstitutionally overseen the military trial of 9/11 masterming Khalid Mohammed; now, he once again has conferred Constitutional rights on a terrorist/enemy combatant where none should exist and, in fact, do not exist in the case of Sulaiman Ghaith, Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law and chief propagandist for Al Qaeda. And this is the man we are supposed to trust when he states that “no intention” exists to use drone strikes in America… the very same Eric Holder who ignored due process in the international child custody case of Elian Gonzalez.
Due process of the law has been integral to the American way since George Mason and others penned the Bill of Rights, and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) pointedly stated, “The question of whether the United States government can kill a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil when that individual does not pose an imminent threat or grievous bodily harm is a fundamental issue of Liberty. It is an issue of enforcing the explicit language of Our Constitution.” It is within this context that all Americans must take pause and object to Holder’s reluctance and hesitancy to offer an unequivocal and certain, “No…the president does not have the authority to kill a U.S. citizen on American soil who is not engaged in combat,” as he eventually did on March 7, after a month and a half of pressure from Congress!
This controversy largely arose over the Obama refusal to allow Congress to see the legal opinions that authorize drone strikes, although regular reports have been made to the House and Senate Intelligence and Armed Forces Committees. The critical question centers on Congressional oversight of a covert war against suspected terrorists, as Obama has grabbed too much power and violated the U.S. Constitution in his so-called “efforts to keep the nation safe.”
Virginia E. Sloan, the president of the Constitution Project (civil liberties group/DC), stated in February, “We have this drone war, and the American public has no idea what the rules are, and Congress doesn’t know much more… speeches are absolutely no substitute for the actual memos in hand.”
Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said: “What Rand Paul had to say about drones absolutely fired up conspiracy theorists on the left as well as the right.” Setting aside conspiracies, a known fact represents reality; and, America’s reality is an Obama administration and Homeland Security who warned of the ranks of potential terrorists being filled by “right wing extremists” and “Christian conservatives.”
Attorney General Holder has not told us the criteria used to mark a person as an enemy combatant. He also did not back off his contention that the president has the authority to pursue military action inside the U.S. in extraordinary circumstances, which is currently and technically correct; however, this also requires numerous signatures from the other branches of government, and it still gives the impression of flying in the face of Posse Comitatus. And it was this assertion that sparked Senator Paul’s filibuster, as he declared, “I have allowed the president to pick his appointees… But I will not sit quietly and let him shred the Constitution.”
One should also note that the U.S. has developed miniature drone listening devices that go unnoticed as they hover over areas, like something out of Bradbury’s ‘Farenheit 451′ or Orwell’s ‘1984’. That’s well and good if they’re hovering over a terrorist camp, but do we really want to use this in America? … Embrace Big Brother… And even if we do, shouldn’t we still demand the application of the 4th, 5th and 6th Amendments?
Over the course of the filibuster several senators, such as Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, attempted to lessen the strain of the effort on Senator Paul by asking questions and speaking themselves. Cruz read passages from ‘Henry V’ and lines from the movie ‘Patton’. At one point, Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), who struggles with a cane due to a stroke, delivered hot tea and an apple to Paul’s desk, but a doorkeeper removed them; not to be outdone, House Republican Louie Gohmert from Texas stood off to the side of the Senate floor in a show of support.
One person can make a difference when they stand up for a righteous cause, and no one should take any U.S. President’s word, especially this one’s, that his administration’s policy in any area remains consistent with our laws and systems of checks and balances, regardless of claims of “transparency”. By offering his resolution stating that the use of unmanned, armed aircraft on U.S. soil against American citizens violates the Constitution and delivering 13 hours of explanation and education, Senator Paul opened the eyes of many Americans, who want a better balance between protecting our security and protecting our Liberty; even CodePink called and thanked him “for standing up against abuses of power.” So, the next time you hear Senator Rand Paul, or anyone, ask “are you so afraid that you are willing to trade your freedom for security,” reply “No!”…and stand up for Liberty!