Mary Katherine Ham has the language of the “sense of the Senate” resolution that Rand Paul wanted passed:
Resolved, that it is the sense of the Senate that:
1. The use of drones to execute, or to target, American citizens on American soil who pose no imminent threat clearly violates the Constitutional due process rights of citizens.
2. The American people deserve a clear, concise, and unequivocal public statement from the President of the United States that contains detailed legal reasoning, included but not limited to the balance between national security and due process, limits of executive power and distinction between treatment of citizens and non-citizens within and outside the borders of the United States, the use of lethal force against American citizens, and the use of drones in the application of lethal force within the United States territory.
That bold language is important, because (as I argued yesterday) a President has to have the right to act in a 9/11 situation where a Flight 93 remains in the air. If Paul’s filibuster was not a partisan issue where we decry executive overreach only when the other guy is in office — and it wasn’t — we have to devise rules that make sense regardless of who is in the Oval Office. Senator Dick “Dick” Durbin raised the Flight 93 issue with Sen. Paul last night, who acknowledged that everyone agrees a Flight 93 situation poses a different question.
But when you have no imminent threat — when an American citizen is sitting at a cafe (Paul’s and Sen. Cruz’s example) on U.S. soil — the government has no Constitutional right to simply snuff him out with a drone. This would seem such a simple proposition. Why wouldn’t Senators bring it to a vote? Why wouldn’t Obama make a clear statement to that effect?
A report says that Brennan’s nomination can still be filibustered, because Mitch McConnell gave his blessing to opposing cloture. That report was filed before Durbin came in at the end of Paul’s filibuster and uttered some sort of parliamentiary incantation, and I’m not positive it’s true. I hope it is.
There is a collection of videos from yesterday’s filibuster here. To whet your appetite, here is one in which Paul calls Obama a hypocrite on civil liberties:
Paul makes the point, as I say above, that the law has to apply to everyone, because you never know who’s coming next.
When your government won’t tell you they don’t have the power to do something, they’re telling you they do have that power.
— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) March 7, 2013
Finally, I said this last night and I stil believe it: this event was far more important than most in the media realize. The filibuster made the front page of the L.A. Times, but it was only part of a larger story centered around the debate prompted by the white paper on drone attacks. I think what happened yesterday went beyond the issue of drone attacks. Conservatives saw, at long last, two men (Rand Paul and Ted Cruz) willing to literally stand up for what they believe in. It felt like the first time that had happened since Ronald Reagan. It was inspirational, and it won’t soon be forgotten.