A day after Kentucky Senator Rand Paul’s 13-hour filibuster of John Brennan, Arizona Senator John McCain felt it necessary to criticize Paul’s questions of Brennan and accused the junior Senator of political stunts.
The most confusing part of McCain’s criticisms came when he accused Rand Paul of being uninformed on the matter of U.S. use of drones over our homeland. “He needs to know what he’s talking about,” McCain spat.
Which begs the obvious question: which one of Paul’s questions gave McCain the impression that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about? Paul pressed Brennan on the government’s use of drones within the United States and demanded an answer to the constitutionality of using drones to kill U.S. citizens at home. Brennan, of course, did not give a straight answer. While saying the possibility of using drones to attack U.S. citizens is unlikely, the government has been careful to leave the door open to drone use in grave matters of national security, like the September 11th attacks.
Rand Paul wants to know if the use of drones, especially for non-combatants in the U.S., is constitutional to Mr. Brennan. Brennan is up for a vote to be the CIA’s next director, and accordingly, I would think such questioning is not only appropriate, but necessary, before leading one of the United States’ more secretive and protected intelligence agencies.
McCain’s confusing critique of Paul continued. “What we saw yesterday is going to give ammunition to those who say the rules of the Senate are being abused,” he said.
Okay, Mr. McCain – what rule did Rand Paul break or abuse in filibustering Mr. Brennan? Filibustering has been a part of American politics for decades and stands as a perfectly reasonable means to protest the appointment of government officials and/or demand answers from them. This has been used countless times in the past and will continue to be used in the future.
What is your real problem with Paul, Mr. McCain? Your clumsy critique of the Senator seems forced and contrived. You managed to provide absolutely no specific information to backup your criticism of Paul, only a shallow school yard comment about Paul not knowing what he’s talking about and an implication that concerns over the random killing of Americans on U.S. soil are unfounded.
Is ensuring our appointed officials answer a direct question regarding the constitutionality of the surveillance of the American people inappropriate? Perhaps you believe government officials such as Brennan, and maybe yourself as well, are above question? Isn’t the possibility of using drones to surveil and potentially kill American citizens on our own soil worth the extra night of questioning and a filibuster? As an elected official, you should be asking these very same questions, Senator. Our government should never, under any circumstances, go unchecked or unquestioned. Even if you personally do not believe the government would commit such an atrocity, Brennan is being considered for a position that comes with power that would allow for such an action.
But I suppose that when you are in that government, it is less of a worry.
Or, maybe this issue is not of any real importance to you, and anyone who dares question the motives of the United States government or its appointed officials must not know what they are talking about. After all, the government has a stellar record of self-governance and ethical behavior, right? There is no need for such uninformed questions. There is no basis to be concerned over the government’s ability to watch the American people and take action against those they deem to be “enemy combatants” without any kind of trial or hearing.
The possibility does not exist, so let’s not even ask.
Just a couple hours ago, Attorney General Eric Holder responded to Paul’s question asking whether the President has the authority to kill U.S. citizens in a non-combative situation. The answer, simply, is “no”. Paul said he’s satisfied with that answer in an interview with CNN, although he wishes the White House would have responded a month ago when the question was initially asked.