PA Sen. Pat Toomey Stood with Rand Paul on Drone Filibuster
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) spent almost 13 hours yesterday filibustering President Barack Obama’s CIA director nominee John Brennan over the administration’s stance on drone technology and their declared right to murder at will. It was something to see, especially as several of Paul’s colleagues, including Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, got on the Senate floor in solidarity and spoke to further delay a vote on the nominee.
“No American should ever be killed in their house without warrant and some kind of aggressive behavior by them,” Paul said during the 13-hour window. “To be bombed in your sleep? There’s nothing American about that.”
No American has been bombed in his sleep, yet (domestically; Abdulrahman al-Aulaqi was killed by a drone attack in Yemen), but Brennan is a strong proponent of the president’s tactics of killing suspected terrorists using unmanned drone warfare. Similarly, the presidential administration has argued that it can assassinate those it suspects of having ties to terrorism without a trial, on U.S. soil.
Filibustering, for those who don’t know, is a tactic in which a Senator can speak indefinitely on the floor in order to delay a vote. The tactic is rarely seen in action, though was famously mocked in the 1939 film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and infamously employed during the debate over the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Paul was joined by 11 colleagues, including Toomey and, embarrassingly, just one Democrat: Ron Wyden of Oregon. Toomey and Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), both filibustered and later sat for dinner with President Obama to discuss sequestration cuts with some of their Republican colleagues.
“Indefinite detention is pretty tame compared to being destroyed by a drone,” said Toomey in his short time alongside Paul. It was later reported that the filibuster was not mentioned during the Republicans’ dinner with the president.
Twitter came alive last night with the #StandWithRand hashtag, something civilians from both parties seemed to agree with. Paul had also led the fight against two pieces of infinite detention for terrorists language in the past two National Defense Authorization Acts. Unlike most Republicans in the Senate (and virtually all until 2011), Paul takes a libertarian stance on foreign policy, often putting civil liberties above a thirst for war, which was a cornerstone of the previous Republican president’s tenure.
It was noted by several cynics and some journalists last night that had George W. Bush been president, we’d have an opposing situation—perhaps Democrats would have begun a filibuster, instead. And when Paul rhetorically asked, “Are we so afraid of terrorism, are we so afraid of terrorists that we’re willing to just throw out our rights and freedom?” he could have also noted that question was answered 11 years ago, when a single Senator voted against the Patriot Act.