Rand Paul stops confirmation of CIA director due to drone killings of Americans

acf4rand paul Rand Paul stops confirmation of CIA director due to drone killings of Americans

Lawmakers in Washington were gathered to finalize plans toconfirm John Brennan as the next head of the Central IntelligenceAgency on Wednesday, but Sen. Paul took the floor just shy of 12noon and told colleagues that he would speak out against thepresident’s pick for as long as he had to in order to prevent theappointment from being finalized.The son of former presidential contender and congressman RonPaul continued for hours, gaining support from members of bothmajor political parties in opposing the president’s nomination.“This is not about partisanship,” said the Republicansenator, who claimed to have affirmed other choices made by thedemocratic president. Rather, Sen. Paul said that the matter athand — the use of unmanned aerial vehicles to execute US citizenswithout a trial — was one that was so polarizing that lawmakersfrom both sides of the aisle couldn’t help but align on histeam.“It’s not partisan against partisan; it’s bipartisan workingfor the power of the checks and balances to try to ensure aleveling,” tweeted a member of the senator’s social media teamduring his address as it stretched into the evening.Sen. Paul has sent two letters to Mr. Brennan’s office askingfor answers about the drone program operated overseas duringBrennan’s tenure as a White House counterterrorism official, askingspecifically for information about how the aircraft are used toexecute US citizens suspected of terrorism overseas and whetherthat justification can be used domestically.On Tuesday, US Attorney General Eric Holder responded to asimilar letter sent by Sen. Paul, confirming in part that Americancitizens residing within the US mainland could be subjected toextrajudicial executions approved by the Obama administrationbehind closed doors and not a court of law.“It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinarycircumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate underthe Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for thePresident to authorize the military to use lethal force within theterritory of the United States,” wrote Holder.In a response from Mr. Brennan, the nominated CIA chiefconfirmed to Sen. Paul that drones were not being used on US soil,but did not say such an incident would be impossible. Dissatisfiedwith the reluctance of the White House to issue a formal answer tohis precisely line of questioning, Sen. Paul on Wednesday said hewould do everything in his power to stop the architect of the droneprogram from becoming the highest figure in the country’sintelligence community.“I rise today to begin to filibuster John Brennan’snomination for the CIA,” Sen. Paul began his attempt to hold upthe nomination. “I will speak until I can no longer speak. Iwill speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded fromcoast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rightsto trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed bya drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime,without first being found to be guilty by a court.”Sen. Paul told his colleagues that he did not have a beefdirectly with Mr. Brennan, but was intent on making a point aboutthe White House’s insistency on making closed-door decisions thataffect each and every American. It was like “pulling teeth toget any answer from the president,” the senator said, vowingthe he would continue to critique the Obama administration untilthey answered his questions in full.“In a democracy, you could someday elect someone who is veryevil,” said Paul. “That’s why we don’t give the power to thegovernment—and it’s not an accusation of this president or anybodyin this body. It’s a point to be made historically that,occasionally, even a democracy gets it wrong.”Paul also attacked the administration’s reluctance in sharingintelligence with not the American public but politicians likehimself who were elected to represent their constituents. Beingable to be killed by the government with no explanation, said Paul,was reason enough for every person in America to be concerned. Evenstill, though, he said the White House has refused to shareintelligence deemed relevant to his investigation.“They treat the US Senate with disdain,” said Paul.“They won’t respond to us, much less the Americanpeople.”Near hour five of his testimony, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon)aligned himself with Paul and said, “Every person has a right toknow when their government is planning to kill them.”Paul said he had problems with not just the administration’sjustification to kill US citizens suspected of heinous crimesagainst the country, but the factors at hand in that decisionmaking process. To some members of the intelligence community, saidPaul, persons with pro-life bumper stickers and supporters ofthird-party candidates are deemed worthy of being investigated.Americans “who are in the Constitution Party” areconsidered threats to some, he said. “Isn’t there some ironythere?”“If the accusations are based on how many fingers you have ona hand, then I’ve got a problem,” he said. “No Americanshould ever be killed in America who is sitting in a café.”“Sometimes accusations are made because people politicallydon’t like your point of view,” he added.Sen. Paul said the administration is arguing otherwise, though,and that people singled out by Holder, Brennan or another WhiteHouse official as being a threat to the country could be brought todeath without ever being judged in court. That’s how the senatorinterpreted the White House’s lackluster response to his inquiry,at least, and during the filibuster he demanded that the presidentspeak honestly about when, where and who drones could attack.“I can’t understand the president’s unwillingness to say he’snot going to kill noncombatants. Think about that. He’s unwillingto say publicly that he’s not going to kill noncombatants,”said the senator.Four hours into the filibuster, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida)said in support of Paul’s attempt to stop the nomination,“Members of the senate have an important constitutional role togive advice and consent on these nominations.” Earlier in theafternoon, Sen. Paul said, “I withhold my consent today becauseI’m deeply concerned that the exec branch has not provided ananswer: that the president refuses to say that he won’t killnoncombatants.”

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Rand Paul stops confirmation of CIA director due to drone killings of Americans

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