Rand Paul

Parsing AG Holder on Domestic Targeted Killing

Written by Julian Sanchez, a research fellow at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

As I wrote on Thursday, I’m not really losing sleep over the prospect of domestic targeted killing, mostly because it seems as though it would be so manifestly politically radioactive even within the intelligence community that I doubt it could be done secretly, and would almost certainly provoke a constitutional crisis if it became public. That said, as Marcy Wheeler notes, if we look closely at the precise wording of Attorney General Eric Holder’s response to Sen. Rand Paul disavowing any such presidential prerogative, it’s actually phrased in a way that seems calculated to preserve a fair amount of wiggle room:

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.

Lindsey Graham is Ignoring the Constitution in Favor of Party Lines

Lindsey Graham

Lindsey Graham has declared war on the Constitution (on the same day Kim Jong Un declared war on his enemies… hmm…). What’s especially funny is that he couldn’t have chosen a less popular time to do so, as the Constitution — courtesy of #StandwithRand — is trending. With overwhelming support for Rand Paul’s filibuster coming from conservatives, libertarians, and even many Democrats; Graham, joined by John McCain, has decided that the possibility of the government killing Americans on American soil without due process is a non-issue.

Graham told POLITICO:

“I do mind our party taking a position completely different than we had with President Bush. I didn’t hear any of these people say anything during the Bush administration. Where were they? I just think it’s politics. I think it’s creating a straw man, creating a situation that doesn’t exist.”

First of all, let’s look at the issue of droning under President Bush. Not once did Senator Paul praise President Bush during his filibuster. Unlike his colleague, Senator Graham, Paul is able to look at an issue based on constitutionality instead of on which political party is at stake. If Senator Graham cared to remember those “good old days”, he might remember the huge anti-war movement that arose during Bush’s War on Terror. Much of that movement was directed at tactics such as waterboarding and use of drones, but the movement was against a Republican president. As a party-line opportunist, I guess it’s not all that surprising that there’s a bit of a memory gap for the senator.

Rand Paul, Tea Party Senators Stand Strong for the Constitution in Historic Filibuster

Rand Paul

“Epic,” “inspirational,” and “historic” are three words that best describe what I watched transpire on the floor of the United States Senate yesterday. At 11:47am, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) began his filibuster of John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s nominee to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, largely due to the lack of transparency from the Obama Administration on its drone program — specifically the targeted killing of Americans inside the borders of the United States.

The reasons that this gained so much interest was because it was an actual filibuster. This wasn’t a situation where Brennan couldn’t get 60 votes for cloture. Sen. Paul performed an old school filibuster, something that has become all too rare.

There was also another point that made this filibuster unique — Sen. Paul, along with several of his colleagues, spent nearly 13 hours talking substantive policy. There was no reading from a phone book or any other manner of time-buying tricks. Sen. Paul and others spent their time relaying a very pointed message about the Constitution, limits on executive power, and civil liberties.

For nearly 13 hours, Sen. Paul gave one of the most eloquent defenses of the Constitution that I’ve ever witnessed. He was joined at various times by Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), both of whom spoke at length on the constitutional concerns over the policy.

UPDATE: Rand Paul is Filibustering Obama’s CIA Nominee

Rand Paul's filibusters John Brennan

This post has been updated. Scroll down to view the latest.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who has become the fiercest of President Obama’s drone program, is currently in the middle of a traditional filibuster against the nomination of John Brennan. He been at it for a just over two hours, having started at 11:47am.

You can watch it live here.

Brennan, who was nominated by President Obama to serve as director of the CIA, was asked some very direct questions by Sen. Paul over the drones program. Sen. Paul wanted to know whether or not the White House could perhaps target American citizens who are merely suspected terrorist activities inside the borders of the United States.

Attorney General Eric Holder responded to the questions raised by Sen. Paul about the drone program. “The question you have posed is therefore entirely hypothetical, unlikely to occur, and one we hope no president will ever have to confront,” Holder wrote. “It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States.”

Sen. Paul recognizes that he won’t be able to keep going for a prolonged period of time, but he is using the time to highlight the various issues problems with the use of drones against American citizens, thus denying them due process.

Drones: Legal, Ethical, and Wise?

Since the first armed drone strike in Yemen 2002, the United States has been leveraging the Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Terrorists, signed on September 18, 2001, presumably for use in Afghanistan, to justify the use of drone warfare in numerous countries.  Drones have since been used in Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Mali, but mostly in Pakistan, where strikes began in 2004, and accelerated in 2009; with more than 300 strikes, there have been six times more drone strikes in Pakistan under Obama than under Bush.

Rand Paul gives a solid, substantive response to the State of the Union

Rand Paul gives the Tea Party response

President Obama’s State of the Union address was nothing new.  The President continued the same leftist rhetoric he used during his inaugural address, calling for even more spending and government.  As Jason wrote, he absurdly claimed that he has CUT spending, attacked the sequestration plan that he himself proposed, and called for an increase in the minimum wage would would prove disastrous to job creation.  In short, it was more of the same - big government, high taxes, and spending money we don’t have.

The official Republican response was fairly lackluster.  Marco Rubio is a gifted speaker, but his speech was big on platitudes and slogans and small on substance. The real response came from Senator Rand Paul.  It’s no secret that Senator Paul is a favorite of mine and of many libertarian-leaning folks, so there was much anticipation that he would offer a clear vision apart from both Obama and Rubio.  For the most part, he did just that.

To begin, Paul went strongly after the President and laid out a clear idea of what he believes America is really all about:

Tonight, the President told the nation he disagrees. President Obama believes government is the solution: More government, more taxes, more debt.

What the President fails to grasp is that the American system that rewards hard work is what made America so prosperous.

What America needs is not Robin Hood but Adam Smith. In the year we won our independence, Adam Smith described what creates the Wealth of Nations.

Rand Paul outlines constitutional, conservative foreign policy

Rand Paul

There is a battle raging for the heart and soul of the conservative movement. While there is a near constant discussion over fiscal issues, also emerging is a debate over the foreign policy direction the United States should take.

Despite his anti-war rhetoric on the campaign trail in 2008, Barack Obama has largely continued the expansive foreign policy views of his predecessor. In 2011, Obama authorized a bombing campaign in Libya, which was aimed at deposing the regime of the country’s dictator, Muammar Gaddafi.

This campaign, which was waged without the consent of Congress, setoff a debate between the neo-conservatives and those who advocate a more restrained, constitutional foreign policy. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ) criticized the non-interventionist views of Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jim DeMint (R-SC) and others, smearing them as “isolationists.”

It’s Sen. Paul who has largely become the voice of reason in the foreign policy debate. During the 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee, suggested that he could, as president, authorize military action against Iran without congressional approval. Sen. Paul responded forcefully, explaining that the “Constitution clearly states that it is Congress that has the power to declare war, not the president.”

Karl Rove wishes Rubio, Lee, Paul and Cruz weren’t senators

News broke over the weekend that Karl Rove was launching a new PAC aimed at helping establishment Republicans defeat conservatives in primary races. As I explained yesterday, this move is tantamount to declaring war on grassroots fiscal conservatives.

Based on the formation of this new PAC, the absurdly named “Conservative Victory Project,” Rove obviously wishes that Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio hadn’t have won their primary battles, in which they were pitted against more establishment candidates.

Yesterday, Matt Kibbe, President and CEO of FreedomWorks, responded to Rove’s new PAC in a statement, noting that the “Empire is striking back.”

“Imagine a Republican Party without the leadership, energy and principled ideas coming from Senators like Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Pat Toomey and Mike Lee, because that is what you would get from a lack of real primary race competition now being proposed by Karl Rove,” said Kibbe. “The choice is simple: should voters choose who represents them in Washington, DC, or should political insiders make the decision behind closed doors?”

Echoing Ronald Reagan’s words of “rais[ing] bold colors, not pale pastels,” Kibbe noted that a watered down vision will not lead the Republican Party to electoral success. “We believe that good ideas, compelling candidates, and open competition are the only way to rehabilitate the GOP,” explained Kibbe, “and the diverse group of compelling young leaders our grassroots community has helped bring to Congress speaks for itself.”

Rand Paul To Take on TSA Once Again

Rand Paul

We’ve complained long and hard about the TSA and it’s terrible “security” practices for years. It’s a horrible agency that should have never been instituted. Fortunately, Rand Paul is on the case:

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said he will very likely re-introduce legislation to drastically scale back the Transportation Securities Administration’s reach by privatizing TSA security screening operations at airports and creating a series of passenger protections, Politico reports.

“I think we are going to,” Paul said when asked if he would take another crack at the agency. “We have two different bills, one to privatize the TSA and then we have another one which is a passenger bill of rights.”

Paul’s introduced TSA privatization and flier bill of rights legislation last summer after resisting a pat-down, which postponed his flight and caused him to miss a speech at a March for Life rally.

One bill would have ended the TSA screening operation and require airports to choose companies from the private sector to do screening. The other bill would have allowed certain people to opt out of pat-downs, required distribution of a list of fliers’ rights, and greatly expanded an expedited screening program for frequent fliers.

Rand Paul seeks to stop Obama’s executive orders

Rand Paul

Earlier this week, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), son of former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), slammed over the measures President Barack Obama planned to take in what the White House claimed was an effort to curb violence.

During the interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Sen. Paul explained, “I’m against having a king,” adding that a president who creates law by executive fiat is runs counter to the government formed by the Founding Fathers. “I think having a monarch is what we fought the American Revolution over and someone who wants to bypass the Constitution, bypass Congress — that’s someone who wants to act like a king or a monarch.”

Sen. Paul warned that the White House would have a fight on his hands if he signed any executive orders that bypassed Congress. On Thursday, the day after President Obama’s press conference where he announced that he would sign 23 executive orders dealing with guns, Sen. Paul announced that he would introduce legislation to protect the Second Amendment from executive fiat:

As published by Talking Points Memo, here are his intentions in what he calls the “Separation of Powers Restoration and Second Amendment Protection Act.”

Paul says his legislation will declare that “Any executive order by President Obama infringing on the Second Amendment rights of all Americans would be declared null and void” and “would prohibit federal funds to implement President Obama’s executive orders impacting the 2nd Amendment.”


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