After years in the shadows, the administration’s secret drone program burst into very public view Wednesday with lawmakers grilling the attorney general over legal justification for targeted killings and Sen. Rand Paul launching an old-style one-man filibuster to demand answers from President Obama.
The Kentucky Republican held the floor for almost 13 hours, effectively blocking a vote on the nomination of John O. Brennan, whom Mr. Obama has tapped to be CIA director. He said he would relent only if the administration publicly vowed not to target Americans on U.S. soil.
“This is a long, drawn-out day, but it’s to try to get some answers,” Mr. Paul said after he crossed the eight-hour mark late Wednesday evening. “It’s to try to shame the president into doing the right thing.”
Democrats, who control the chamber, were forced to delay a vote on the Brennan nomination until at least Thursday, and it could go into the weekend, depending on what other blockades Republicans erect.
At issue is the administration’s argument that it can kill those it suspects have ties to terrorism, including U.S. citizens, without having to put them on trial.
The fulcrum of the debate is the drone program, started under President George W. Bush and expanded by Mr. Obama, which many lawmakers said gives too much power to the executive branch — and raises tricky questions about whether drones could be used to execute Americans in the United States.
The administration has only recently acknowledged the drone program and says it is seeking a public debate in order to find common ground on what Americans are ready to accept.
“I think there is going to be a greater effort at the transparency. A number of steps are going to be taken. I expect you will hear the president speaking about this,” Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. told the SenateJudiciary Committee on Wednesday morning.
But he faced bipartisan demands for more information and more clarity on what is and what isn’t allowed.
“You can hear almost unanimous concern about transparency and wrestling with how to move forward here in a way that protects both our constitutional liberties and our security as a nation,” Sen. Christopher A. Coons, Delaware Democrat, told Mr. Holder.
Mr. Cruz said that wasn’t good enough.
“You keep saying ‘appropriate.’ My question isn’t about propriety. My question is about whether something is constitutional or not,” the Texas Republican said.
“Let me be clear: Translate my ‘appropriate’ to ‘no.’ I thought I was saying no, all right? No,” Mr. Holder said.
Mr. Holder also said he is not sure Congress could ban the president from using drones to kill Americans on U.S. soil.View Entire Story
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Stephen Dinan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
'Your papers, please' must never be heard in America
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
Contributions to the Communities Sports desk from readers.
Empowering mind/body/spirit and health dialogue along with cutting-edge, conscious social, political, and world commentary with Adam Omkara. Join the Evolution!
Born in 1930 in rural Missouri, Charles Vandegriffe, Sr., brings his time and place to the Communities.
Join the Communities and submit your column in response to one written, or on something totally new and unique. We want to hear from you
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal
Vietnam Memorial adds four names
Cinco de Mayo on the Mall