For many of us, Rand Paul’s filibuster was a surreal moment in time, beckoning back to better days when Mr. Smith Goes to Washington was considered a masterpiece of film because it embodied the values of our nation. Today, “violence porn” films like Django Unchained are considered the top of the heap because they, sadly, embody our corrupt and violent society.
“Old Bull” Republicans like John McCain and Lindsey Graham thought Rand Paul’s filibuster was stupid and irrelevant. That it was ridiculous to think that Barack Hussein Obama, who has from almost Day One of his presidency spurned the rule of law—often blathering about “if Congress won’t act, I will”—would drop a hellfire missile on an American sitting in a cafe.
But this wasn’t some manufactured issue, as the Left is famous for. Michael Isakoff uncovered a secret DOJ memo last month that gave the Obama administration the authority to kill any U.S. citizen, at any time, anywhere, without proof, without due process, accountable to no one.
And in fact, Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen, was taken out by a drone for basically being a propagandist for Al-Qaeda. Whether, being an American citizen, he should have been given due process is debatable. But two weeks after al-Awlaki was killed, his sixteen year old son, Abdulrahman, also an American citizen, was killed with a drone. His crime was being related to an identified terrorist. And in fact, then-Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs blamed al-Awlaki’s son for “not having a more responsible father” for his being vaporized by a missile.
And then there was the news that the Obama administration had ordered a fleet of “public safety” drones, able to pick up cell phone traffic, able to identify whether the target—that is, an American citizen—is armed or not—with the ability to be easily outfitted with missiles. Experts estimate this fleet of “public safety” drones to reach 30,000 by the end of Obama’s “third term.”
This in itself would have remained innocuous enough, but there was this odd “War on Domestic Terrorism” that the Obama administration was waging against conservatives.
For example, the Department of Homeland Security published a study titled “Hot Spots of Terrorism and Other Crimes in the United States, which identified potential domestic terrorists as those who are “reverent of individual liberty.” Those who are “suspicious of centralized federal authority.” Those who believe there is a “grave threat to national sovereignty and/or personal liberty.”
This of course sounds very much like beliefs espoused by conservatives, specifically the Tea Party, so it was valid for conservatives to be concerned.
Rand Paul, more pointedly, cited in his filibuster further ludicrous “behaviors” of potential domestic terrorists: Those who have guns with high capacity magazines and weatherized ammunition. Those who have more than a seven day supply of food. Those who pay in cash. And probably the most ludicrous: Those who are missing fingers.
It took almost two months for the American people to get a straight answer from the Obama administration as to whether an American citizen can be killed on American soil with a drone for being a potential terrorist.
Obama refused to answer the question. CIA appointee John Brennan, prompted by the Senate Judiciary Committee, refused to answer. Attorney General Eric Holder initially stated that it was constitutional in a letter to Senator Rand Paul. But when pressed by Senator Cruz, after equivocating for several minutes, Holder finally admitted that no, the Obama administration could not constitutionally kill an American citizen on American soil with a drone—though he never states this directly.
This was the impetus for Rand Paul’s thirteen hour filibuster of the John Brennan nomination, which finally resulted in the Obama administration sending a terse and extremely vague letter to Rand Paul, supposedly clarifying its position.
The letter states:
It has come to my attention that you have now asked an additional question: “Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?” The answer to that question is no.
Of course, the question is, what does the Obama administration consider “combat”? This was not addressed; and more than likely, Obama, like everything else surrounding his drone program, will keep this under wraps.
John Brennan, who is in charge of the Obama administration’s drone program abroad, will no doubt become the de facto head of the domestic “public safety” drone program. All able to nullify the Fourth Amendment and spy on Americans. All able to determine whether a potential “domestic terrorist” is armed. All able to fire a missile, vaporizing an American sitting in a cafe, minding his own business, deemed by Barack Hussein Obama to be engaged in “combat.”