Strictly speaking, Eric Holder already acknowledged this yesterday after three agonizing minutes of Ted Cruz teasing it out of him. But Rand Paul wanted a formal statement from the White House as a condition of ending his filibuster.
And now, apparently, he’s got it:
White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters at 1:15 pm. that Mr. Holder’s letter to the Kentucky Republican went out shortly after noon, and just 12 hours after Mr. Paul stages a marathon talking filibuster on the Senate floor demanding clarification of U.S. drone policies and the president’s authority to order strikes on Americans.
Mr. Holder’s letter answers Mr. Rand’s question, “Does the president have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill Americans not engaged in combat on U.S. soil,” Mr. Carney said.
“The answer to that question is no,” he said. “A letter signed by the attorney general has gone out in the last half an hour.”
This is great, on its face. But when examined a bit closer, it looks like there’s some Clintonian parsing of words occurring:
…before you celebrate, think carefully about whether Holder’s really answering his concerns. Paul wasn’t just asking about “weaponized drones.” He was asking about targeted killing generally.
Sending the CIA in to shoot a guy in the head because he’s on O’s “kill list” doesn’t address the due process concerns just because no drone was used. The phrase “not engaged in combat” is also murky since the entire point of this debate is about defining what it means to be “engaged in combat” against the United States.
Paul’s point yesterday was that, even if a U.S. citizen is an “enemy combatant,” the feds should be barred from summarily executing him if he’s on U.S. soil.
Because without that distinction, we still have this, simply minus the “drone” part:
Still, we wouldn’t be this far without Rand Paul’s efforts, which were successful on a number of levels. From the Washington Examiner:
On the most practical level, Sen. Rand Paul’s 13-hour filibuster from Wednesday morning til after midnight accomplished this: delaying for a day the vote on President Obama’s nominee to head the CIA, John Brennan. Soon enough, Paul ceded repeatedly, Brennan will win confirmation.
So, did Paul accomplish anything besides “blowing up Twitter,” as his cohort Ted Cruz put it? He certainly did. How much he accomplished will be determined, but here are some places to look:
- He got the major media talking
- He got many Republicans to express objections to extrajudicial drone killings
- Made a conservative case for limiting war powers
- Made a libertarian outreach to the anti-war Left
- Made himself a major Republican figure
The piece elaborates on all of those points wonderfully, and you really should read it all.
The obvious question in all this has already been asked: can you IMAGINE the wailing if it was Reagan or Dubya claiming to be able to blast Americans from the sky? The duplicity of the Media when dealing with all things Obama has gone from frustrating, to absurd, to chilling.
But thanks to the filibuster, finally, a whole bunch more folks heard about this for the very first time, and, to quote the Examiner piece one last time, “exposed the craven partisanship” of the Left completely:
Democrats refused to allow Paul a vote on a non-binding resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that government can’t kill U.S. citizens on U.S. soil, while those citizens pose no imminent threat.
There’s no way this course of action jibes with the party’s stated principles. The most likely explanation …is that they didn’t want a vote that might embarrass their party’s president.
Last night was extraordinary, for each of the reasons above.
We should ALL agree: No president, not even one whom we admire, has the right to circumvent Due Process unless the situation is truly imminent, not “potentially” imminent. And having our glorious Droner-in-Chief attempting to keep this in his bag of tricks certainly made me more than a little uncomfortable.
It’s not as if I ever thought he was going to target me personally, of course.
…Hey, what’s that? Up in the sky…?