Some called it grandstanding. Me? I call it almost heroic. A lone senator stood for eight hours, blocking something that he was most likely planning on voting for (John Brennan’s appointment as CIA director), because of a deeper principle. He made a stands based not on party, but the simple concept of right and wrong. You see, Sen. Paul believes, as do I, that the American people have a right to be safe from assassination by drones without the due process of law here in on our own shores.
I tend to steer away from national politics here at the Journal. I contribute to a blog called United Liberty where I do most of this kind of thing. However, every now and then, I feel like something needs to be said here, and this is one of those times.
Sen. Paul and I don’t agree on everything. I agree with him more than most members of Congress, but not on everything. This is one of those things I agree with him on.
Attorney General Eric Holder said that there was nothing stopping the president from using a drone to kill an American citizen on American soil under “extraordinary circumstances”. Now, Sen. Paul has been asking for clarification for a while, and this was it. The question wasn’t about shooting down a plane taken in a 9/11 style hijacking either, but whether drones would be used on American soil as they have been used in the Middle East. Unfortunately, he got his answer.
For the record, I do not believe that President Obama is sitting at his desk in the Oval Office, looking his own version of a “naughty or nice” list, trying to figure out who to kill first within the boarders of the United States. I just don’t. However, future presidencies are built on the precedences set previously. President Obama, who is a very educated man, should know this. In fact, much of his executive power is derived not through the Constitution of the United States, but what other presidents have “gotten away with”. He supposedly taught constitutional law, so hereally should understand this.
My concern is not with President Obama, but someone down the road. Maybe even the next president. In his and Holder’s mind, “extraordinary circumstances” may well mean another 9/11 or Pearl Harbor. Down the road, it may mean that protest movement that is drawing a lot of popular support but is critical of the government. The precedent is now set, and Sen. Paul was trying to change it.
There are two parts of this equation that are depressing to me. First is that it was even necessary. Arrest the criminals, put them on trial, and i convicted, put them away for a long, long time.
The second was how few Senators stood with Sen. Paul. A few did, and they should be thanked by each and every American. More should have done so. In reality, this isn’t partisan issue. It’s a human rights issue, and all 100 senators should have stood united. They didn’t, and that may be the greatest shame in this whole situation.