Rand Paul's drone filibuster shakes up Republicans
Sen. Rand Paul's filibuster got results: The White House acknowledged that killing US citizens suspected of being terrorists must follow the rule of law. But it also shook up the Republican caucus.
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“To my Republican colleagues, I don’t remember any of you coming down here suggesting that President Bush was going to kill anybody with a drone, do you?” Mr. Graham said, an apparent reference to several junior Republican senators who joined the filibuster now and then to give Paul a break. “They had a drone program back then, all of a sudden this drone program has gotten every Republican so spun up. What are we up to here?”Skip to next paragraph
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In fact, Graham added, he was now going to vote to confirm Brennan as a way of supporting the US drone program.
In remarks to reporters Thursday, Paul said such criticisms indicate “a healthy debate in the Republican Party.”
“It used to be monolithic that whoever is in the country that we think are bad, we call them enemy combatants and we lock them up and throw away the key,” he said. “That’s the caucus arguing against what I’m saying. But there’s a healthy debate and people are starting to understand that just by calling someone an enemy combatant doesn’t make them an enemy combatant.”
In recent weeks, the Obama administration has been forced to give in on issues related to drones, including providing the legal justification for their use in tracking and killing terrorists – an issue that has become more politically potent as new data about the numbers of civilian casualties becomes known.
"The president has not and would not use drone strikes against Americans citizens on American soil," Mr. Carney said. "The legal authorities that exist to use lethal force are bound by, constrained by, the law and the Constitution. The issue here isn't the technology…. Whether it's a drone strike or a gun shot, the law and the Constitution apply in the same way."
The drone issue has made for some odd political bedfellows as liberals join with libertarians such as Paul in criticizing the program.
“Unlike those Washington conservatives who only object to centralized government power when the government is trying to regulate business or help the poor, Paul is reminding his fellow Republicans that the power to wage war is the most dangerous government power of all,” Peter Beinart writes in The Daily Beast. “He’s reminding Democrats that no president can be trusted with the unrestrained power to kill, not even one you like. And he’s reminding Americans that senators can still stand on principle, even when it costs them their sleep.”
Key elements of the tea party movement also have weighed in, supporting Paul and threatening some Republicans.
Graham, who is up for reelection next year, faced criticism from the tea party for attending a dinner with Obama Wednesday night rather than joining Paul in the filibuster, The Associated Press reports. Amy Kremer, chairman of the Tea Party Express, said Graham was "clearly on the wrong side of this issue, and I think there will be consequences."